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A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.
For more about Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Blu-ray release, see Green Lantern Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 5, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong, Geoffrey Rush, Blake Lively, Clancy Brown (I), Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Martin Campbell
» See full cast & crew
Green Lantern Blu-ray Review
"In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 5, 2011
As if being a box office disappointment and a critical flop weren't bad enough -- Or should that be a box office flop and a critical disappointment? It's strange labeling a $200 million worldwide take a flop or a disappointment, and yet it was both -- Green Lantern left film fans and comic geeks cold. And, for once, a comicbook adaptation alienated moviegoers of all stripes for the same reasons, regardless of how familiar they were with DC Comics' space-faring saga. Where to begin? Director Martin Campbell's interstellar superhero actioner is too slow, too uneventful, too melodramatic, too anticlimactic, and offers too little too late. More? Its casting is riddled with odd choices and poor picks, its superpower showcases and superpowered showdowns are dull and CG-driven, its attachment to Earth infuriating, its performances clunky and inconsistent, its tone too disjointed, its hero too shallow, its fourth tier human villains too cheesy, its planet-chomping alien menace too cartoonish, and its true Big Bad relegated to the bench until an end-credits sequence calls him in for a sequel that might not ever come to fruition. Long story short? Green Lantern has high aspirations but never quite gets off the ground.
After a convoluted prologue of sorts fails to make the green essence of willpower all that awe-inspiring or the yellow essence of fear all that frightening, Green Lantern unleashes the Ender of Worlds to top all Enders of Worlds: Parallax (Clancy Brown)... a smoky space cloud with tentacles and a giant face. (Pause for unintended laughter.) After a fair amount of further exposition, we're introduced to death-defying top gun Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a hotshot test pilot who lives to break the rules, even if it rubs fellow pilot and ex-flame Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) the wrong way. Soon enough, though, Hal is forced to grow up and face his deep-seated fear when a wounded alien warrior named Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) crashes to Earth. Before Abin Sur dies, the will-harnessing power ring in his possession chooses Hal as Sur's successor, making the less-than-enthused pilot the first human representative in the Green Lantern Corps. (For those not in the know, the Green Lantern Corps is an interstellar peace-keeping organization established by an ancient race of beings called the Guardians of the Universe. There are 3600 sectors in the known universe, 3600 Green Lanterns, and 3600 sentient power rings in existence. Each ring chooses its owner, seeking out the most worthy candidate if and when its current owner is killed or gravely injured in the line of duty.) Before you can say "brightest day and blackest night" (actually, after you have time to say it at least three-hundred times), Hal is whisked off to the planet of Oa to be inducted into the Green Lantern Corps. There, he receives rudimentary training from three veteran Lanterns -- Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan), Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Sinestro (Mark Strong) -- but quits the moment the going gets tough, returning to Earth like a pouting child. Of course, it isn't long before Parallax, power-hungry outcast Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), corrupt senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) and shady government agent Dr. Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett) require the down-on-his-luck Corps rookie to save Earth from destruction.
Whew. If it sounds like there's a lot going on in Green Lantern, that's because there is. And yet, somehow, there isn't. Despite all the subplots, despite all the double, triple and criss-crosses, despite having two or more planets to explore, Campbell's Earthbound misfire has all the depth and dimension of its 3D presentation. Which is to say: not much at all. The plot is in a constant state of perpetual motion, but it doesn't move anywhere or anything, and it certainly isn't going to move anyone. More distressingly, Lantern's heroes and villains are as flat and two-dimensional as its story. Hal Jordan, Abin Sur, Kilowog, Sinestro, Tomar-Re... each classic comic character leaps off the pages of "Green Lantern," comes to life in animated features like First Flight and Emerald Knights, and has the potential to be unforgettable on the big screen. But with Campbell and his squad of writers at the helm, each Lantern and monstrosity is underdeveloped, under-realized and underutilized. (Yep, even Jordan, whose arc consists of dealing with his father's death and, well, dealing with his father's death.) It doesn't help that the trickier elements of the Green Lantern universe -- fists and baseball bats being crafted out of green light, star-flung police officers punching and swatting inhuman monsters, a hero who disguises his face with a sliver of a mask, and an 3600-strong army of bizarre alien creatures that make the Mos Eisley Cantina regulars look like models at an L.A. casting call -- come off as silly, corny or both. (Campbell's task was admittedly a difficult one, but not impossible.) Comic fans will naturally be more forgiving, albeit only to a point and only insofar as their own will allows. Reynold's CG suit fails, Hal's use of a massive green racetrack to save senator Hammond and his guests is as ridiculous as you might imagine, CG beasties Kilowog and Tomar-Re never feel like meat-and-bone characters, Parallax is one of the most unintimidating villains to rear its head in a superhero adaptation (his comicbook form is much more unsettling), and the culmination of Hal Jordan's powers is... a pair of green fighter jets chained to his back? Hrm.
What works? Not very much by my estimation. Strong stands out despite his truncated appearances and delivers an impassioned, dare I say nuanced performance, Rush and Brown's voicework is spot on, Reynolds does his best with a hit-or-miss screenplay, the Guardians of the Universe succeed on every level (in spite of a few details that will leave comicbook purists grumbling) and Jordan's training, short and insufficient as it may be, is a great set piece that provides visual, thematic and character-driven thrills aplenty. Sadly, that's about it. Sarsgaard, Robbins and Bassett ham it up to such heights that they nearly bring the film crashing down; Lively tries, and tries hard, but remains out of her element, out of her comfort zone and out of her league; Kilowog is wasted thanks to an uninteresting design and mashed-potatoes voicework; and, even with a whole universe to explore, Campbell and his screenwriters seem convinced that audiences won't relate to a story that doesn't take place on Earth, won't connect with characters who aren't human, and won't root for more than one hero. Why adapt "Green Lantern" if you aren't going to spend time tearing through the cosmos or teaming Hal with all the characters that make the comicbook the fan-favorite that it is? First Flight tossed Jordan into the far reaches of space, mixed in a healthy homage to The Shield, and came away all the better for it. Thor juggled Earth and Asgard brilliantly. No, it wasn't the Nine Realms epic it's sequel is purportedly set to be, but Branagh followed the story wherever it took him; Campbell, by contrast, seems desperate to get away from Oa as quickly as he can, concocting any and every excuse necessary to keep Hal stuck in Earth's orbit. It's everything a Green Lantern film shouldn't be, truth be told, and it pays the price accordingly. Here's hoping Green Lantern 2, if it gets the green light, unshackles Hal, hands over the keys to the heavens, and sends DC's Emerald Knight in a cross-universe battle with someone more befitting his attention. Some like Strong's Sinestro, who I suspect would have made the series' first film a more intense and fascinating cinematic introduction to the Green Lantern Corps.
Green Lantern Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer doesn't exactly swoop in to save the day. Contrast is rather oppressive and black levels are heavy, unforgiving and, every now and then, abusive, stamping out shadow detail with abandon. It's as if someone cranked up the "in blackest night" dial but forgot to flip the "in brightest day" switch. (On a positive note, the more brutal blacks cover up some of the seams that haunt the film's CG elements, chief among them Hal's suit.) Even when the sun rises, the image lacks a bit of the brightness, crispness and clarity that should rise with it. When the sun sets, matters get infinitely worse. Crush is an issue, as is middling delineation and some muddled fine textures. Videophiles won't be easily satisfied and even those who are will probably be those who mistake the overzealous shadows that press in as thematic when they are, at least in part, indicative of something more troubling: the possibility of an over-tweaked encode. Granted, much of the deteriorating detail traces back to the source. I noticed the presence of noise reduction while watching the film in the theater and most, if not all, of the (reasonably) minor DNR that's visible here comes courtesy of Campbell and company, not Warner. Still, an eyesore is an eyesore. Closeups of Ryan Reynold's face (the refined shots at 41:09, 1:14:47 and 1:44:30 being a few of the exceptions) shouldn't look as flat, indistinct or muddy as they sometimes do.
Which brings us to the next problem. While superpowered greens and yellows light up the screen with welcome vibrancy, Dion Beebe's palette -- or perhaps Warner's approximation of it -- looks as if it belongs in a film featuring the Dark Knight, not the Emerald Knight. While typically attractive, fleshtones don't always boast natural hues, many a primary sinks into the abyss, and shadows occasionally descend without mercy, eclipsing both the practical sets and CG environments. (Hal's confrontations with Parallax are particularly dreary and dubious. Look no further than the murky mess that is their battle at the 1:42:00 to 1:44:00 mark. Even explosions and spewing fire struggle to push back the prevailing darkness.) Thankfully, there are saving graces. Significant artifacting, banding, aliasing and ringing are nowhere to be found, detail isn't always consumed by darkness, and a variety of scenes, though still relatively dark, look quite good. Some soupy noise tries to disguise itself as filmic grain and fails, but it isn't a major distraction. All things considered, Green Lantern offers a passable, now-and-again impressive presentation, but it also stands as one of the more underwhelming superhero-adventure transfers to come along in some time. I already knew I didn't enjoy the film itself, but I thought the resulting Blu-ray release would, at the very least, blow me away. Instead, it just sort of limps along. Green Lantern was a bit brighter, a bit more colorful and, if memory serves me, a bit more detailed in theaters, but four months is a long time when it comes to memories, so take that with a grain of salt. Even so, I would recommend adjusting your expectations. The video presentation isn't as brave, brilliant or bold as you might assume. I honestly had a tough time deciding between a 3.0 and a 3.5. Fair warning: you may feel it holds steady at a 3.0 or, if you're particularly sensitive to specific issues, descends into 2.5 territory.
Green Lantern Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ah, this is more like it. While Green Lantern's visuals are trapped in a maddening free fall, Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track kicks on the afterburner and roars overhead. Dialogue is clean, well-grounded and intelligible throughout (minus a few lines dwarfed by mid-battle chaos) and sound effects, be they down-to-Earth or powered-by-will, remain crystal clear from start to finish. Explosions, minigun fire, Kilowog punches, jet engines, toppling buildings and burning stars take full advantage of the LFE channel, and dynamics lend power and presence to an already engrossing soundscape. The rear speakers are responsible for plenty of sonic flash and flair as well. Alien warriors rocket past, energy blasts streak across space, Parallax billows and fills the soundfield, and every intergalactic hotspot and Earthbound locale is nice and immersive. (Even though Lantern's distant planets seem to be slightly more enveloping than our own. I suppose Campbell has more to play with when he's off-world, brief as those opportunities may be.) If the film's transfer came to life with the same vividness and tenacity as Warner's lossless mix, this would be an entirely different review. Ah well, one-half of an outstanding AV presentation is better than nothing I suppose.
Green Lantern Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Green Lantern Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The prospect of a Green Lantern movie was always fraught with peril; it isn't the easiest universe to adapt for the big screen. Sadly, director Martin Campbell fails to do for Hal Jordan and the Lantern Corps what he was able to do for James Bond. Green Lantern is a 3,600 sector pileup, and a dull, haphazard one at that. Warner's Blu-ray release is a bit uneven as well; just not as uneven as the film itself. While its DTS-HD Master Audio track delivers the goods and its supplemental package is quite generous, Green Lantern's video transfer languishes in darkness and never shines as bright as its heroes' rings. Ultimately, regardless of whether you're a film fan, a comic geek or anything in between, I would recommend sticking with a rental.
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