“Green Lantern” Blu-Ray Review
– for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: June 17, 2011
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 14, 2011 (Amazon.com)
In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax…he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all. (from MovieWeb.com)
It’s actually no surprise that Green Lantern has been getting a cold reception from film critics and fans… that is, upon learning that the comic book movie adaptation was directed by Martin Campbell. I say that not because Campbell is a bad director, but actually because he’s actually quite the opposite. Considering how Campbell resurrected the James Bond franchise with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale five years ago, we can expect greater things from the New Zealand born director. So when Green Lantern isn’t all that you would expect from this skilled filmmaker, disappointment is likely to result.
However, while it was evident that the younger audience members in the row behind me didn’t quite enjoy Green Lantern based on their chuckling throughout the movie (and sarcastic cheering following it), I found the film to not really be as horrendous as most reviews made it sound. Perhaps that’s because I have seen much worse (Batman and Robin is just one of the worst that comes to mind), but it may also be because I expected a complete trainwreck and walked out feeling entertained instead. However, with films like Iron Man, X2, Dark Knight and even this summer’s Thor having raised the bar on the superhero genre, it’s easy to see why Green Lantern has been met with such criticism. It’s a bit of a mixed bag with hit and miss special effects as well as a tone that isn’t entirely consistent.
It may be safe to say that having Ryan Reynolds embody the Green Lantern is both a strength and a weakness for the film. Reynolds is funny and charming, but at times it can be a little hard to take him seriously. I suppose the same can be said for Downey’s take on Tony Stark, but perhaps it’s Downey’s convincing acting and more complex character that make him a more dynamic hero and character as Iron Man. Still, Reynolds does a pretty good job with what he’s given to work with. Blake Lively is decent as his love interest, Carol Ferris. She’s attractive and likable, but she’s not especially warm or as charming as her male counterpart. Her character doesn’t really offer much to draw in the audience, or even explain exactly why Hal would be interested in her besides just her looks. Peter Sarsgaard plays the film’s villain, Hector Hammond, who isn’t given a whole lot of dimension and only grows sillier in appearance as the film progresses. The combination of his character and the entirely-CG Parallax might draw a few comparisons to the cheesy treatments the first HULK film gave its villain (and subsequent powers)… and that’s not a good thing.
With that said, the special effects really seem to be an unfortunate mix of good and bad. While Thor was effects-heavy, the effects were largely done well and effectively. Green Lantern’s effects himself look great throughout, as they should, including his frequent mental fabrications that are created by the power of his ring (and are the most fun to watch in the movie). It’s really Parallax, who looks like a big, twisting mud cloud (or worse) and some of the inhabitants of the Green Lantern universe that cheese out the film some And by the time Hector’s head and neck swell to embarassing sizes, I’m willing to bet that the look of sheer terror on Tim Robbins’ face is not in reaction to Hector’s transformations, but instead it’s the realization that he’s locked into a film that’s going to have one really ridiculous looking foe.
The content in Green Lantern is certainly of the PG-13 variety. There is some profanity, although it isn’t frequent, which consists of 2 “s” words, a handful of blasphemy, and a few other cuss words. Given the film’s more comic-book feel than some others in the genre, it felt out of place to have the language in there. There are also a couple minor sensual references, but nothing especially explicit, while the violence is mostly non-graphic, although intense at times. For example, a syringe flies into an anonymous lab worker’s forehead before he’s tossed about, and another character is tossed into a room which is then engulfed in flames, incinerating the person inside (but we do not see anything gruesome). Also, when Hal meets the injured Abin Sur, we see a somewhat gory wound in his purply skin, which is later seen again in a little more explicit detail. Most of the violence isn’t all that gross or graphic, but there’s enough to warrant some caution.
My feeling leaving the theater after watching Green Lantern was that it was an enjoyable film watching experience, but I can see why there has been widespread disappointment about the movie. It’s probably not as bad as you may be hearing, but it’s certainly not the better of the superhero films you’ll see this year. Green Lantern is probably the most fun when Hal is learning the tricks of his new trade and getting the opportunity to wallop a bad guy or two, but it’s everything in between that muddles the end result. More like its fellow green franchises, Hulk or Green Hornet, Green Lantern shows promise, but it likely won’t appeal to anyone looking for another Iron Man or Dark Knight installment. Fans of the more campy and cartoony superhero/action movies need only apply.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 6/23/11)
Blu-Ray and Special Features Review
Green Lantern comes home in a special Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack and a separate combo pack that includes the 3D version. Here, we’ll take a look at the 2D Blu-Ray release. First off, the picture is fantastic. The transfer for the BD release is wonderful and the colors really pop throughout the film. It’s one of the more impressive high-def releases this year!
For the first time ever, “Ultraviolet” is introduced on this Warner Bros. title. With it, movie watchers can access their movie anytime anywhere through streaming, and they can also download a copy to their computer. The upside is all the above, the downside is, instead of including a digital copy disc that contains your digital copy, you have to download a 1.7GB video. For those with slower connections, that’s a bit rough (but at least you won’t have a useless disc after the transfer is done). The other downside is you need to signup for an account with Flixster and install a special application just to download the file. Previously, you could just use iTunes. I haven’t tried streaming it yet, since I’m more of a download-it-to-my-iPod kinda guy, but it’s a neat new feature that I’m sure many will be jazzed about.
When it comes to special features, there’s quite a bit, including a new “Extended Cut” which you can choose to watch, or the theatrical version that was shown in theaters…
Extended Cut – The film is extended by only six minutes in this special Extended Cut. For those curious as to what has been added back into the film, it literally just shows Hal as a kid at the beginning of the film instead of only in the flashbacks he has while his plane is falling. We see the same scene with Parallax open the film, but instead of it cutting to grown-up Hal oversleeping for work, it takes us to 1993 when Hal is a kid and interacting with his family. It does set up the story well, but it feels just a little redundant when they show all the highlights of this flashback during the plane sequence only a little bit later.
Maximum Movie Mode: The writer of the current Green Lantern comic book takes the viewer on an inside look into the production of the film, examining why Reynolds took the role, what inspired the film’s design, and much much more. The Maxium Movie Mode appears in the lower right hand corner for almost the entire feature film, showing interviews and behind-the-scene footage. The option to jump into a still gallery is also given occasionally during the film’s duration, along with links to the “Focus Points,” which thankfully are available separate (see below). I really wish the interviews and on-set footage had been made available apart from this feature, especially since it’s impossible to enjoy the film while watching it in Maximum Movie Mode because you’re constantly being interrupted by a featurette that takes up more than a quarter of the screen.
Ryan Reynolds Becomes The Green Lantern – This is a fantastic featurette that focuses on Ryan’s preparation for the role with some really excellent behind-the-scenes footage of him on set with all the visual effects stripped away. The end of it shows Ryan hooked up to a crane that yanks him 95 feet in the air for the shot where he gets pulled from the back alley up into space for the first time. (1 “a” word used here)
Deleted Scenes – There’s a brief collection of deleted scenes, most of which don’t really add anything to the film. The first is titled “Hamster Scene” and shows Harold, after he’s been infected, puking in the sink. He then goes and levitates his hamster, speeds up his wheel and catches him before he hits the wall. In the next sequence, Hal returns to the Lanterns’ home planet to find that a group of Lanterns were ravaged by Parallax. It precedes his imploring the Guardians for help. In the next one, he says goodbye to Carol before facing off with Parallax. Lastly, there’s a sequence where we see Hal’s nephew Jason and his family planning to retreat to their cellar with Parallax on the loose. At one point, Jason sees the family dog outside and runs to save him, but is confronted by Parallax. Just as Jason is about to be killed, Hal shows up and saves him. For all of these scenes, too, the special effects are unfinished, but it’s cool that they were included anyway.
The Universe According to the Green Lantern – Unfamiliar with the Green Lantern history? This excellent featurette is dedicated to the comic book birth of Green Lantern and the history of how he turned evil in the mid-90s, was killed off, but then brought back in a fresh way only several years ago. It’s a great crash course in learning about Green Lantern and Hal Jordan.
Justic League #1 Digital Comic – This is the new relaunch of the Justice League comic book series, featuring Green Lantern, which allows you to read the whole thing panel by panel. It’s pretty neat, actually (and a nice teaser for the comic book series).
Preview of Green Lantern: The Animated Series – This gives snippets from an episode of the cartoon show, complete in HD, that shows a stylized 2D/3D look that isn’t especially detailed animation, but starts to look a bit better as you watch it.
Focus Points – As mentioned before, the Focus Points linked within the Maximum Movie Mode are available separately and are pretty great watches:
The Art of Green Lantern – This shows how the film’s look was so elaborately conceptualized and how it was actually the look of the design in preproduction that sold Reynolds on taking the role.
Weapons Hot: The U.C.A.V. Dog Fight takes a really in-depth look at what all went into creating the dog fight sequence near the start of the film. It’s cool that they enlisted the guidance of real fighter pilots to advise on making it as realistic as possible. I was surprised to learn that it took about eight months to complete this sequence alone! There’s also some great on-set footage here too, including Martin Campbell actually directing some of the action during filming.
Reinventing The Superhero Costume shows how the Green Lantern costume evolved into what you see in the film. The costume designer talks about her research and then it’s discussed how the suit’s look was physically created. Basically, no real version of the suit was ever used, but each actor was dressed in a gray motion capture suit. Then, when the digital effects were applied, they gave the characters that superhero physique digitally. It’s an intriguing process as to how the suit became what you see on screen.
Ring Slinging 101 – This covers the effects and the design of the look of when the ringbearer creates “constructs” with their mind in battle. The constructs were one of the most fun aspects of the film, to me, and it’s cool to hear the cast and crew talk about them here.
We Are The Corps – For diehard fans, this is an especially neat look at the other Lanterns that Hal comes in contact with. We get to see more details about the characters that you won’t really notice during the film, and they show the comic book source references next to the film’s version for a series of them. It’s also neat to see Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan in the studio as they recorded the voices for their characters too.
Acting Under 10 Pounds of Silicone – This covers the characters of Hector, Sinestro, and Abin Sur, and we hear from each actor as to what it was like to undergo the makeup transformations for the film. We see each one during the makeup process as well as, like in Hector’s case, what the various stages of the process looked like. I enjoyed hearing each actor reflect on wearing the makeup application and what it was like to wear it during filming as well.
Guardians Revealed – Here we see how they filmed Sinestro and Hal confronting the Guardians. It also talks about their comic book origins, their design for the film, and subtle details you might not notice on film.
When Parallax Attacks – The final “Focal Point” is dedicated to the film’s villain, Parallax. I appreciated the detail they went into to create it, but after watching the film twice, I never picked up on the fact that the brown cloud was made up of the skeletons and souls of Parallax’s victims. I feel like the overall design is forgivable, but a better execution of this character would have made the movie stronger. As it is, it’s a bit difficult to take the brown, flowing cloud of creepiness all that seriously.
All in all, Green Lantern is a great Blu-Ray release that you can tell Warner Bros. took care in putting together. Fans of the film and the comic book series should be pleased with the home entertainment release. It’s not the best superhero movie you’ll see, but it’s certainly not a bad one, and it’s nice to know its BD release is a good one to go with it.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 10/12/11)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: When Hal wakes up in the morning, he’s cuddling with a girl under his bed sheets. He then hops out of bed in nothing but his boxer briefs and gets dressed; When he sees Carol at work, she’s mad at him for being late and he tries to calm her, then comments “let’s get these pants off and fly some planes;” While reminiscing about a previous relationship they had together, Hal tells Carol, “that was the first time we…. flew… together.” She then replies that now he’s flying all the time with anyone who’s willing to fly with him (insinuating he sleeps around); We see a side view of Abin Sur’s naked body in a glass case; We see Hal in just his boxer briefs again; Carol makes a comment that she has seen Hal naked in their past together; Carol shows a little cleavage in some of her outfits; Hal and Carol passionately kiss
Vulgarity/Language: 2 “S” words 1 “J-sus,” 2 “g*dd*mn,” 6 “h*ll,” 2 “*ssh*le,” 1 “S.O.B,” 1 “b*tch,” about 6 derivatives of “G-d”
Alcohol/Drugs: Hector is visibly drunk at a party; Various people drink at a party and in a few other scenes
Blood/Gore: We see a pretty gory wound in Abin Sur’s chest which we later see a couple more times. In one scene, we see a camera view from what looks like inside the wound looking out at a person with their hands inside the wound (for some kind of autopsy); Hal has a small abrasion on the side of his face; We see a small drop of blood after Hector draws a sample of his own blood; Hector has some slightly bloody cuts/ abrasions on his face and forehead; We see part of a charred skeleton after Parallax drains it of its life; Hal has a few small cuts or abrasions on his face
Violence: Parallax sucks dry a couple Lanterns and we see their yellow skeletons get absorbed by the monster; We see a flashback where a plane explodes, killing someone; A plane crashes and explodes; Parallax shoots Abin Sur, mortally wounding him. Hal finds Abin Sur who is lying bleeding to death; Hal is jumped by a few men in an alley who beat him up. His ring then causes him to deck the men with a really large fist, sending them flying; Among the other Lanterns, Kilowog and Sinestro spar with Hal to teach him how to use his powers; Hector uses his mind to throw a student who makes fun of him; Hector uses his mind to throw a beer tap handle into a helicopter blade and send it veering out of control. It nearly kills a lot of people at a party before Hal stops it; Hector violently becomes deformed as his head stretches and he screams. We also see him trash his office; A syringe sticks into a man’s forehead or face and he violently is thrown about. Another man is tossed onto a table with restraints. Hal fights Hector and then that man is thrown into a room which is then engulfed in flames, killing him; We see a person hovering in mid air with a syringe poised at their neck. A man fires at a wall, blowing a hole through it, then fires at Hal and is blown backwards through the hole they just made. Parallax sucks a person’s energy out, leaving a shriveled skeleton on the ground. Hal then fights Parallax for an extended battle sequence. We briefly see Parallax killing civilians in the street by absorbing them; and probably more superhero-related action violence.