Review: Green Lantern

Posted by on Jun 21, 2011 in Reviews |

I wanted to like Green Lantern. I really, really did, but it’s tough to like something when nearly everything you know about it became unrecognizable onscreen. Was that supposed to be Hal Jordan? Was the movie supposed to be a Green Lantern story? Yes, obviously, but I shouldn’t have to ask those questions in the first place.

This post contains spoilers. You may want to stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

I’ve only viewed a few trailers of the movie so I found it surprising that the intro revealed the main villain to be Parallax. I don’t know much about him from the comics, but I read about him in Wikipedia before, specifically this part:

The "Emerald Twilight" storyline began in Green Lantern vol. 3, #48 (Jan. 1994). Following the complete destruction of his home town Coast City by the villain Mongul, Hal Jordan descends into madness. Jordan went on a rampage, destroying the Green Lantern Corps, killing his friend Kilowog and all of the Guardians except for Ganthet. Hal Jordan became Parallax.

See that last line? Hal himself became Parallax when the villain was first introduced in the comics. He wasn’t a run-of-the-mill member of Jordan’s rogues gallery. He was an enemy of the entire Green Lantern corps, someone much more than the former-Guardian-turned-fear-incarnate that the movie showed him to be. I found myself asking why he was the main villain already. Nolan waited until his second Batman movie to get the Joker out. It took Raimi three movies to unleash Venom. Maybe I should’ve taken the intro as a precursor of things to come.

So a few minutes later we get Hal. Then we see the dogfight and the eventual crash. Now, I understand how easy it is to choke sometimes so that part was believable. What bothers me is what triggered it: the picture of his father. Seriously, why would you bring a memento like that if you know it can cause negative memories to resurface? It just doesn’t make sense. By the time the movie ended I realized not making sense applied to a lot of things.

Going back to the dogfight, the sequence showed him as a guy who’s determined to win at all costs, even if it meant sacrificing his wingman (who happens to be the only woman who believes in him. Way to go, Hal.), his plane, two AI-controlled aircraft and, potentially, his life. Later on we learn that he also cost people their jobs and almost caused Ferris Aircraft to lose the government contract they were gunning for. He then spends most of the film plagued by self-doubt, even going as far as quitting being a GL out of fear of Parallax.

Given these problems it’s amazing he even got the ring to work at all. With so much emphasis placed on willpower I wonder if it occurred to anyone that Hal didn’t look like he had enough of it to begin with. He only got it in the end, enough to ask the Guardians for permission to take on Parallax solo. In yet another logic-defying moment, I ask why he needed their permission in the first place. I mean, they didn’t take away his ring even after he quit, did they?

Willpower and fear are key themes of Green Lantern lore. Green is the color of will, yellow is the color of fear. The movie tries to keep these concepts intact through visuals and dialogue but failed to do so with the other elements of the film. Going back to that defining moment where Hal crashed the plane, was it because of fear or stupidity (see my point about the memento)? Later on when he quit being a GL, did he do it out of fear or irresponsibility? Again, I shouldn’t have to ask. The script keeps saying he does it out of fear but what I saw told me otherwise.

So why did the ring choose him again?