Where and how did the Green Lantern movie go so horribly wrong?
When the Green Lantern movie came out, it was ravaged by the critics. I figured it had to be at least somewhat of a backlash on it being yet another comic book movie, but now that I have recently gone back and watched it again for myself … the critics weren’t harsh enough.
Moving away from “they changed such and such from the comic,” I am going to focus solely on the basics of storytelling and say that this film was flawed on so many levels that is almost impossible to know where to start. However, after a lot of thinking I narrowed it down to three things: Hector Hammond, Sinestro and effects.
Many comic book movie sequels tend to go with too many villains, and it leads to a confused audience. This film series, however, decided to do it from the get go.
Lets start with Hector Hammond. There was absolutely no reason for him to be involved in this story. Parallax infected him and then he … did nothing of merit.
You see, Hammond had to have a reason to be involved, so lets bring in his father, the senator. This necessitated bringing in another character the script didn’t need. And, lets see, to get him infected we need to bring in another character to assign him the job of the autopsy, so lets bring in Amanda Waller so she can take up some screen time. Oh, and as long as she’s here, lets have Hector use a power he never uses again to show us her past so we can understand her for the three or so scenes she’s in.
The whole involvement of Hector Hammond as a villain in this film necessitated bringing in even more characters that were underserved and did nothing but take up screen time and real estate.
If the screenwriters really felt like they needed Parallax to have an agent on Earth they could have still used Hammond and just had it be someone he selected. There was no need for the inclusion of the father. No need for Waller to be running experiments on the body of Abin Sur and so on. Instead they just built up the story more and more making it that much more difficult to care.
Hammond is just a pure waste of space in this film. This is no reflection on Peter Sarsgaard in the role, it is just the reality of the script. He wasn’t needed.
Sinestro isn’t truly a villain in this film until a post credits scene. Up until that point we saw him being the leader of the Green Lantern Corps. So, while Sinestro actually isn’t a villain yet in this film, the build up is there for him to apparently become so in a second film — which is not happening at this point — for no good reason.
When Sinestro first goes to the Guardians and suggests they forge the Yellow Ring, it isn’t out of a desire to do evil, he is actually doing it as what he sees is the only way to fight Parallax. In other words, he is doing it for apparently noble reasons. And I do feel he is still on the side of good at this point because otherwise he has no reason to go rescue Hal at the end of the movie from falling into the sun.
So at the end of the movie, for some completely unknown reason Sinestro decides to put on the Yellow Ring despite the fact the threat of Parallax is over. Is it just out of curiosity? Is it that he has had evil plans all along? We have no idea, and that’s where the whole Sinestro storyline falls apart.
There was no emotional impact to his turning evil. He has been in only a handful of scenes and we know next to nothing about him or his motivations. He is a hard core member of the Corps, and yet he will suddenly decide, “Hey, putting on this Yellow Ring powered by fear, the power that created Parallax, seems like an awesome idea!”
This was clearly something that should have been saved for a second film. Go ahead and have the ring created. Maybe show Sinestro lingering a bit too long while locking it in a vault, and then cut to the second film. Hal has become more established in the Corps, Sinestro now works with him and respects him, a friendship has formed (easily established in the first 10 or so minutes of a film), and then something occurs that makes him think the Yellow Ring is the only answer. Then it carries some emotional impact and makes sense.
The way it happened? Complete throwaway nonsense.
For a film with a $200 million dollar budget, how did they get the effects so wrong?
Mark Strong wore makeup for his role as Sinestro, and it looked good. Maybe a bit too “lifeless” in a couple scenes in the forehead region, but all in all it was acceptable. But some idiot along the way decided that not only should Ryan Reynolds entire costume be CGI, but that even his mask should be.
Whomever made this call is hopefully now asking if you would like fries with your order and is as far as possible from film production.
The Green Lantern mask on Reynolds is laughable. Forget the costume looking fake half the time, the mask was distracting in every single scene. Was it really that much less work to draw the mask on him in every shot then to just make a convincing practical effect?
The mask wasn’t the only issue, though. Let us not forget the design decision for Parallax looking like a giant poo cloud.
Yeah, that wasn’t distracting at all.
So Much Suck
Green Lantern had a lot of promise, and yet it felt like everything that could go wrong did.
It is, however, a perfect example of how if you start off with a bad foundation, in this case the script, there is just no recovering. I know a lot of hate was heaped on Reynolds, but he didn’t do a horrible job, it was everything going on around him that was the problem. From poor design choices to an overly bloated story, it was just one thing piled on top of another that added up to a real disaster of a film.
Why Sucky Movies Suck is an ongoing series of film analysis articles that takes a look at films that went wrong no matter how old they may be.