Thanks to the good folks at Twin Cities Moviegoers (and my darling wife, who spotted the ad for a free screening), I got to take a sneak peek at Green Lantern this morning, and one in 3D even! I'm hoping this turns out to be the only speed bump in a summer of superhero movies.
The story centers around ace test pilot Hal Jordan, who is selected to be a part of the prestigious Green Lantern Corp, a sort of intergalactic police force that utilizes the green energy of willpower to fight evil (more on that in a little bit). Hal is not what you would call an ideal recruit. He's a loose cannon at his job, much to the frustration of his lifelong friend, Carol Ferris. He's got some emotional baggage that's holding him back as well. It's easy to understand why the de facto leader of the Green Lanterns, a guy named Sinestro (gee, can't imagine what his character arc is going to be), has such grave reservations about Hal's place in the Corp. That's because an ancient enemy of the Corp has reappeared and threatens to destroy everything they are supposed to protect.
As I left the theater, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed with this movie. Don't get me wrong, there's some fun stuff here. Ryan Reynolds was fun to watch and made for a believable hero. I don't know if diehard fans will appreciate the humor he brought to the role, but I did. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris was okay, but she did lead to one great, laugh-out-loud moment regarding the plausibility of costumes protecting secret identities. And a lot of the effects and visualizations were great. Oa, the Green Lantern's base of operations, was pretty cool to look at.
But where this movie kind of fell apart was the story. For starters, there was the lack of focus. We kept ricocheting between Oa and Earth, and the writers slathered on a lot of emotional hand-wringing, which meant that we didn't get a lot of what I wanted to see, namely Hal Jordan using the green energy of willpower to make stuff out of thin air.
Speaking of which, that kind of struck me as odd when they mentioned it the first time. Okay, I know, it's Green Lantern and I've read enough of the comics to know that his power is based on willpower. But the way they were tossing around emotional energies and their attendant colors struck me as a little silly. Why is willpower green? Why is fear yellow (beyond the obvious cliched reason)? Worse, the way they described the Lanterns at one point made me think of a different group of individuals tasked with protecting a galaxy far, far away. Almost word for word.
What really bugged me was the tag at the end. Up until the end, I was mildly surprised at how well they were setting themselves up for a sequel. If you know the source material, you know what's coming in the next movie (if there is one; I'm not so sure there should be), but what impressed me was how the writers set it up organically within the story. It was a significant move in terms of the larger storyline, but they contained it well within the convoluted mess they had created. But then, at the end of the movie, without any explanation as to why, they set up the villain for the next movie. In my not-so-humble opinion, it would have been better to leave the tag for the sequel and explain why what happened happened.
So there we go. I've seen better superhero movies this summer. This was okay, I guess, just not all that satisfying.