The following post contains major spoilers for Green Lantern as well as middlin’ spoilers for Dark City (we also have minor spoilers for The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (the extended version comes out on Blu-Ray on the 28th!) and The Dark Crystal). In a nutshell, I’d say that Green Lantern was a fun movie while in the theater but, as I walked out to the car, it slowly became a “wait, why didn’t they…?” movie and, by the time I got home, a “what the heck was *THAT*?” movie. I have been told that my tendencies while walking out to my car and driving home indicate a fundamental flaw on my part. If you share this flaw, be warned that this movie will trigger it. Otherwise, I found it to be okay… for a superhero movie.

(I admit: the first draft had me talking about weaknesses to wood evolving to weaknesses to yellow evolving to weaknesses to fear and the sheer number of retcons necessary to pull such a thing off. It was too cranky by half, though. I’m sure you can come up with your own cranky jokes involving Goldface.)

The movie does a good job of explaining the way the Green Lantern Universe works and in such a way that you won’t be confused about whatever happened to the yellow vulnerability or anything like that. They do a good job of sprinkling in little things from the comics (you’ll recognize a handful of characters from the corps beyond Tomar-Re, Kilowog, and Sinestro) and update the origin story admirably. The scene where Abin Sur and Hal interact feels ripped right out of Showcase #22. It sort of felt like watching the first Harry Potter movie insofar as I kept saying “oh, so *THAT* is what that would look like in real life…”

Sadly, the throwaway visuals were the best part of the movie. (Honestly, I tried to talk about the stuff that I liked for longer but I keep remembering things…)

The villian Hector Hammond was never really a top-tier bad guy in the first place and while Peter Sarsgaard does a spectacular job of bringing him to life… he’s stuck trying to make a grand villian out of a resentful psychic guy with Proteus syndrome… which is just as well, the hero he’s fighting against is, well, do you remember the movie Hot Shots!? The scene in the movie where the psychiatrist stamps Charlie Sheen’s psych eval report with the “Father Syndrome” rubber stamp? Yeah, well, Hal Jordan has the same thing going on in this movie.

Hector’s just a distraction compared to Parallax, however. Parallax is going to eat Earth on the way to going to eat OA (the homebase for the Green Lanterns). Sinestro takes several of his finest warriors to beat up Parallax and Parallax wins handily (fair enough, I suppose). What does not make sense is that Hal beats up Parallax using a trick used by Kilowog during the (far, far, far too short) training sequence (a training sequence, the movie points out, being watched by Sinestro). Sinestro’s handpicked greatest warriors were quickly dispatched to the point where I’m wondering if, in the sequel, Sinestro will talk about sabatoging the mission to get rid of those who were most likely to stand in his way in the future. (Which would, granted, lampshade the problem nicely.)

This brings me to my main criticism of the movie: A Green Lantern ring is capable of creating whatever is in the imagination of the wielder, right? Then why are we stuck seeing little more than flying giant fists, swords, or machine guns? I’m not putting such down for the comic book, mind… I’m sure they’re easy to draw and striking to look at. It’s just that when you have a bunch of experienced Green Lanterns explaining how the ring turns Will into Reality, Reality ends up being dull by comparison.

I suspect that the main culprit, at the end of the day, is CGI itself. If you think about what was going on in any given scene as it was being shot, you’ve got a bunch of guys standing around pointing their arms at each other. Hector Hammond works because Mr. Sarsgaard had the makeup to make him look like the Elephant Man and he was acting like he was resentful and in pain and delighted to manifest psychic powers. Ryan Reynolds is stuck being asked to pose while being told that “we’ll add in the other stuff in post-production”. Remember Dark City? At the end when Rufus Sewell’s character is manifesting his own psychic powers for the first time, he leans forward and waves spew from his forehead. I remember, on the drive home, telling Maribou “if they didn’t have special effects, it would have just been him leaning forward and looking constipated”.

Anymore, thinking about CGI makes me think about The Dark Crystal. (We were discussing this movie just yesterday and talking about how and why it holds up.) We compared it to, among other things, Lord of the Rings (specifically Gollum). Gollum’s scenes in Lord of the Rings, no matter how groundbreaking they were at the time, are uncanny and “CGI-ey” (on top of that, they haven’t aged particularly well). The Dark Crystal has illusions that are very grounded in reality and the illusions interact with each other in a way that carries the viewer along with it. Gollum is CGI. Dark City’s psychic powers are CGI. Green Lantern’s manifest will is CGI… and you’re stuck watching actors pretend rather than watching them act.

There are a handful of scenes that are very striking from the movie, don’t get me wrong. Sinestro’s speech to Hal. *ANY* scene with Peter Sarsgaard. It’s just that these scenes are few and far between scenes with CGI that don’t have enough script heft to drag you to the next really good scene.

You’ve got all of the computing power in the world. A veritable Green Lantern ring in itself! Unfortunately, all the imaginations of the writers could come up with were fists. Swords. Guns.

But Tomar-Re was really cool and I liked Sinestro’s character (all five minutes of it) and Abin Sur was amazing.

It’s just that such things weren’t enough to hold up the movie for me by the time I made it to the car.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I saw the movie this afternoon too. It felt shallow and weakly scripted. Peter Saarsgaard was the only interesting character at all. They could have done more with Hal Jordan having quasi-paternal rather than just avuncular feelings for his adorable 11-year-old nephew.

    I have a hard time seeing Blake Lively as the future Star Sapphire in the inevitable sequel. Too earnest, too bland. Sinestro was believable as a future bad guy too; you got the sense that he enjoys being the political leader of the Green Lantern Corps a little bit too much.

    They should have picked a different villain for Hal Jordan to confront first off. Hector Hammond is a fine first one, and Doctor Polaris would have been a good villian too. Parallax just looked, well, like a big space octopus and he was only good when he was taunting Jordan during the final battle.

    And swords and machine guns? I can accept that the Green Lanterns are limited by their own imaginations, which are drawn from their own experiences. So I’m okay with Hal Jordan, an American from Earth in the early 21st century who makes his living flying fighter jets, think in terms of Earthly weaponry. But I’d have liked to have seen Sinestro fight with swords that looked like they were from his world, not from Earth.

    • I mentioned Peter Sarsgaard to Maribou and she said “I have to see the movie now!” and I pointed out that he was the main reason to do so.

      It’s a pity that they put him in Hector Hammond’s role instead of… oh… hell, even the Tattooed Man would have been better than Hector. Solomon Grundy! Actually, Solomon Grundy (cunning version) would have been pretty cool…

      But I’d have liked to have seen Sinestro fight with swords that looked like they were from his world, not from Earth.

      Or start with Earth swords and then move up to his swords. Our swords are better, our imaginations are better, our Green Lanterns are better than your Earth lanterns. I can’t believe Abin Sur’s ring choose you… that sort of thing. Yeah, I like that.

  2. Huh. Well I still thought it was pretty good, for what it was. I thought Sinestro was fantastic and Hector Hammond was pretty good, too (I don’t really like the character). And that they tied things together pretty nicely while moving the film along at a good pace. My main complaint was the lack of originality… but I kind of knew that going in.

    • I regularly get told something to the effect of “Jeez, Jay… just sit back and enjoy it!” when it comes to movies with special effects in them, for what it’s worth.

      • Well, it sounds like you did that. But then you got up and walked to your car….

        • There’s enough spectacle to confuse you until after you’ve peed.

          This does not a good movie make.

  3. > This brings me to my main criticism of the movie: A
    > Green Lantern ring is capable of creating whatever
    > is in the imagination of the wielder, right? Then why
    > are we stuck seeing little more than flying giant
    > fists, swords, or machine guns?

    This was always my problem with GL. I remember at one point in fifth grade or so during an inevitable “Marvel vs. DC” argument (us not yet being into independents), someone telling me that Green Lantern was better than anything Marvel could put out because he was only limited by his imagination. At which point I said, “He doesn’t seem very imaginative” (I actually probable said something along a much more colorful phrase).

    Comic books were immediately forthcoming, and “see, look how awesome this is!” comments were made while pictures were gestured towards by excited fan.

    I wondered why anyone would summon a single fist to pummel something when an animated Cthulhu-tentacle monster would do the job so much faster. Why a gatling gun when you can summon the Wave Motion gun?

    • That’s one of the reasons The Mask worked as well as it did.

      “How do I deal with a SWAT team? I know, a Conga line.”

      • The Mask was seriously underrated as a comic book movie. Everybody dealt with it as a Jim Carrey movie (or a “ZOMG that new chick actress is totally hot” movie, which more embarrassing).

        • It was 1994… The Crow came out that same year (so did The Shadow).

          Comic book movies were still trying to figure out how to make things work. The Mask and The Crow worked because they played it straight (for the most part).

          • I would argue that, for the most part, DC wasn’t even trying to make it work until Marvel got into the business. On the other hand, those that dealt with unknown properties did have to find an angle.

          • Superman worked. Superman II, most of it anyway, worked.

            I don’t think they understood why.

          • The Shadow. Okay, I’ll fess: guilty pleasure, I like The Shadow, even though it was a huge disappointment.

            I was expecting hard-bitten pulp action, I got camp. But at least it didn’t take itself seriously *while* giving me camp (cough, Dick Tracey, cough).

          • Dick Tracy was the first movie I saw whilst on a date.

            It holds a special place in my heart.

    • They replaced Hal Jordan (for a while) with Kyle Rayner, who was a graphic artist and therefore much more imaginative. It did not go over well. People complained “Why bother with such an elaborate construct to do what a giant fist could be doing?” They didn’t put it quite that way, but it was along those lines.

      Of course, I think a lot of it was that they hadn’t gotten over Hal going crazy, obliterating the Green Lantern Corps, and becoming Parallax. Rayner was going to be hated no matter what.

      • Hal going crazy was one of the most compelling storylines they’d had for a good long while.

        Most of the Silver Age heroes (that had not yet been invented) were pretty much bland babyfaces who were defined by the powers they used. Green Lantern, The Flash, The Atom… they were all cookie-cutters.

        I thought that the Hal/Spectre idea was brilliant too…

        Stupid space parasites…

        • Preach it. My only complaint about Emerald Twilight is that it was rushed (to get it over with for #50). And that Hal was replaced by Kyle Rayner, who (imagery aside) was just another young hip white guy.

          The Atom Special #2 actually had a somewhat unique (for one of the icons, anyway) retroactive take on Ray Palmer. I thought to myself, “this is how they should have made him to begin with.” The guy who was so excited about being a superhero and living the professorial Life of the Mind that he had a tendency to let things slide. But they never ran with it. A couple fans I talked to thought it “diminished” the character that he didn’t pay his bills on time and so on.

          • I didn’t think that Kyle was *BAD*, per se. I liked how he was considered the new kid by freakin’ everybody. It’s just that once they got past that, they had nothing for him.

            Guy Gardner! Now *THERE* was a Green Lantern! I never got over his “Warrior” phase. I can’t believe they greenlit that.

  4. I know you didn’t play Mortal Kombat vs. DC but they actually reference this.

    Lex Luthor is in front of the Guardians and he argues that he would make a better Green Lantern than Hal because Hal has this amazing weapon that runs on imagination and willpower but all he does is imagine giant fists and simple objects like that.

    Of course, if you really want a Green Lantern that uses his ring to the fullest……

    • In Darkest Knight was a much better Elseworlds before they wrote it than after, sadly.

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