The problem with reviews that offer a score at the end is that the reader will be inclined to ignore what people actually write and instead base their judgement on on a purely subjective and in no way qualifed number or percentage.
I admit that I do that sometimes.
The first thing I do with a game review on a site like Eurogamer is skip to the final score. I’ve probably missed out on things or bought things I didn’t end up liking based on a numbered score (Chronicles of Riddick for the Xbox being a prime
example – what a load of rubbish that game was).
So when The Green Lantern got 2 stars out of 5 in both the Daily Express and the Digital Spy website, I was wary. I didn’t read the reviews mind you, I just looked at the score.
But as you know, Superhero films are a genre I like, and I was bored this afternoon so I thought I’d use my unlimited ticket to go and see it.
Skipping to the very end now, I’ll tell you that the film is not without its flaws, but it is decent. You probably won’t want to watch it again in a hurry, but it was good enough to sustain my interest, and much like most films in the genre at the moment, the special effects and visuals are excellent.
But I came away from it thinking “I really need to read the reviews that gave it 2 stars and see what they had to say”.
When Reviews Just Don’t ‘Get It’
The Digital Spy one is more interested in talking about Ryan Reynolds’ back catalogue of movies. The woman writing the review wanted the film to explore Hal’s personal demons more and considered that the biggest problem. Essentially she wanted it to be something it wasn’t even supposed to be.
Meanwhile, the man over at the Daily Express’s main bone of contention was that it was a superhero movie, and he’s seen too many of those films lately. Hardly objective. In fairness he did at least try and be critical and complained that it had too many different sub-plots on the go at once, which was valid.
In both cases, they lay into the film for the ‘old fashioned 1960s’ design of the alien characters like Sinestro, Abin Sur and the Guardians of the Universe (in the Daily Express man’s case, he incorrectly states it reminded him of 1960s Doctor Who, even though there were absolutely no characters in 1960s Who that look anything like any of them. But hey, why bother to qualify your criticisms).
On that final point, I would say that the film makers should be congratulated rather than criticised. The film is about a comic-book hero whose hay-day was in the 1960s. A brief look at wikipedia will show that the likes of Sinestro, Abin Sur and the Guardians look like they are supposed to. And because the CGI and makeup is of such a high standard, they don’t just look like men in rubber costumes. I really do not see that as a valid complaint. If you go to see a Romantic comedy and
the male lead is played as a suave gentleman type, you wouldn’t criticise it for resembling a Cary Grant film, would you?
Similarly, you wouldn’t criticise a comedy on the basis that there have already been comedies out on the cinema this year?
Of course you wouldn’t. Or should I say ‘shouldn’t’
The Film Itself
As for the film itself, it is – as I say above – decent.
To be fair, the character of Hal Jordan is about as deep as you could expect from a comic book character. I was a little bit concerned at the start that he might be a little too one-dimensional when they went through the whole ‘He’s a maverick who plays by his own rules and the consequences be damned’, but that soon made way for his transformation into the Green Lantern.
And yes, at the start there is a fair amount of exposition, but being someone who has never read the Green Lantern comics, I appreciated it.
Despite what the DS reviewer says, as a concept, I think the Green Lantern is quite interesting – especially for a DC character. While Batman is just a wealthy hardnut in a rubber costume, the Green Hornet is just a bloke who has a mate that makes good inventions and Superman is symbolic of America’s opinion of itself on a world scale, the Lantern has a bit of imagination behind it – literally. With his ring, he is able to create anything he wants; his limitation is the strength of his imagination. That’s pretty good.
As I said above, the criticism of the film having too many sub-plots is fair. The stuff with Hector Hammund and his decline and mutation could have been explored more – I would have preferred it if he had been the main villain rather than the Unicron knock0ff we got – and being even more critical, I’m not sure the ending made all that much sense. Hal is considered as being held back by his own fear, but by the end he does manage to overcome it. The problem is there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme nor reason for that happening – all of a sudden he’s just fearless.
The Mask As A Disguise
The one thing that bothered me the most about this film is something that bothers me a fair bit in fiction – the Crap Disguise.
Prince Adam looked exactly like He-Man, but had a slightly higher pitched voice and wore different clothes. That was it. You could tell that Prince Adam – who was supposed to be young and cowardly – spent a ridiculous amount of time at the gym and had the same physique as his alter-ego. He didn’t even go to the effort of wearing baggy clothes to hide it; instead he wore a skin tight, long sleeved white t-shirt. If anything, that would accentuate the problem.
Superman? Clarke Kent with his glasses off and a bit of hair gel.
Well the Green Lantern is almost as bad. It’s just Hal Jordon with a mask over his eyes. Not his face – his eyes. You can see the picture of it. And even though they made a joke about it when his love interest recognised him, she only rcognised him when she was standing under a foot away from him. He didn’t even bother to change his voice.
And let’s not forget, Hal Jordan is a well known guy in his world.
Quite frankly his disguise is a bit insulting to the viewer, and even though they tried to make light of it, it still bugged me.
A Final Point
Even though it wouldn’t sound anywhere near as catchy, from this film I got the impression that if he was going to be named after the source of his power, the character should be called The Green Ring. Essentially, his Lantern is his ring’s charger. You wouldn’t name a mobile phone after the USB cable you use to power it up would you?
Should You Go And See The Green Lantern?
You’ll notice this review hasn’t given a plot summary, but that was intentional. I went into the film not having a clue what it was about, so for a change, I thought I would write a review that gave an opinion on
it that wouldn’t spoil a thing before you go and see it, but hopefully has enough to it that allows people who have seen it to appreciate it.
As you know, I don’t give scores – they can be too influential. If I was to give a score, it wouldn’t be 2/5 because that implies it’s worse than average on a scale of anything I’ve ever seen. And that’s not fair, nor is it true.
I’m not going to tell you this film is great – it’s not. It looks great but the entire package is just ‘decent’.
For the genre that its in, it’s better than the Green Hornet and it’s better than Thor, but nowhere near as good as X-Men: First Class.
The makers should be applauded – not criticised – for keeping the film true to its comic book roots.
Should you see it? It’s certainly worth a watch if you like this sort of thing, but whether it’s worth paying to see at the cinema, I would say probably its not. I’ve got an unlimited card so it’s no extra expense for me.
Oh, and I’d also say that I went to see it in 2D rather than 3D and I doubt I lost anything from the experience.