Okay, I’m setting an unprecedented move here. Not only am I double dipping on the feature material, but I’m ALSO presenting a counter review to a man I have come to know and love (carnally and otherwise): Mr. Ryan Lynch. Mr. Lynch is a smart, almost respected, quasi-masculine member of the public at large, not to mention a cinophile of the highest order. The man has a triple black belt in obscure fighting movies. He’s attained a higher level of consciousness on the plane of nitrocellulose. And he has received my own personal Nobel “movie-writing-about” Prize on several occasions. So yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.
Anyway, he recently wrote a review about the Green Lantern that was fairly sympathetic to a film that has been collectively panned as an absolute failure by critics, fan boys, regular movie goers, casual movie goers, occasional movie goers, and people who read the novelization of “Green Lantern: The Movie.” And you know what, it was a darn good review. He didn’t rave about anything. He didn’t gush and fawn and drool. He sort of told it like it is. Stripped bare of all the hype, the $300 million dollar price tag, the slander, the expectations, Ryan let the world know that this was still an enjoyable flick and “an intergalactic police force movie that kicks ass.” He pointed to the great special effects, the majesty of alien landscape, and the actors doing their best with what they were given. And I for one would like to say thanks, Ryan. Thanks… and fuck you.
Now look, I don’t mean that in the harshest sense of the word. When I finally got around to seeing “Green Lantern” I could see some of what Ryan was talking about. Some. But then I got to see “Thor.” In my estimation, Thor and Green Lantern are counterparts to one another in the epic Marvel/DC battle for comic book supremacy. Both have a complicated back story rooted in thousands of years of mythology and mysticism. Both deal with otherworldly beings and universes of unparalleled majesty. Both weild godlike powers beyond comprehension of this mortal world. And both had yet to achieve mainstream awareness before the age of the superhero movie.
But the people behind Thor just got it right. When you compare the special effects between the two movies, there is a clear winner and a clear loser. And (spoiler alert) Green Lantern got beat bad. Both Thor and Green Lantern had to fly around visiting worlds and galaxies of breathtaking beauty while beating the crap out of larger-than-life bad guys. However, when I was watching Thor, I felt the cosmic power radiating out his mythic hammer, Mjolnir. I was flying along beside him during his intergalactic roadtrips. I could taste the the sweet cherry chapstick upon Natalie Portman’s lips…
Conversely, the whole time I was watching Green Lantern, I just felt like I was watching Green Lantern. Some of the special effects were pretty killer, but there was an obvious disconnect when Reynolds was simply flying around the screen. Flying around the screen in a superhero movie should be old hat by now for film makers. I mean, there’s always a twist or variation that a director can put on it, but it’s been pretty seamlessly integrated in enough movies by now that I shouldn’t have to ever think to myself, “Well that sure was done in front of a green screen.” So if you can’t get the simple stuff done at this point, the rest of your movie probably doesn’t stand much of a chance.
In terms of character development, humor, dialogue, pacing, and story, Thor managed to outpace GL in every category. I know that there were lines in Green Lantern that I wanted to laugh at. And more than a few that I wanted to want to laugh at. I just couldn’t. Every bit of comedy fell flat, and I think that one liners are right in Reynolds’ wheelhouse! Conversely, Chris Hemsworth played Thor with such a charming mix of smug cocksureness and sincerety that I couldn’t help but love him.
I loved the background characters, Thor’s redemption story, and action sequences. I will say that Peter Sarsgaard did make for a very creepy and entertaining bad guy in Green Lantern, but even he wasn’t enough to bring that movie back from the red and into the black… er, green. Whatever. I love you, Ryan.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!