GREEN LANTERN Could Have Shined Brighter
Get it? "Shined brighter"? Because it's about a lantern? That makes...
Oh, nevermind. Point being, GREEN LANTERN wasn't a great movie. A lot of people are coming out and saying "This proves that superheroes are done for in Hollywood!" or "This proves that B-list heroes can't carry a movie!" or "This proves that comic book types shouldn't muck around in filmmakers' business!"
To the last point: I certainly can't prove that Geoff Johns wasn't to blame for everything wrong with the new GL movie, but I can tell you that his GREEN LANTERN: SECRET ORIGIN trade is light years better than what we got in theaters last week. So you'll have to do the math for yourself.
In the meantime, here's a short list of what they could have done better to make GL really fly:
[Because he flies, get it?]
1. Let the audience discover the mythology along with Hal. You're setting up a universe where Hal Jordan is the first human to be a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Why on
Earth Oa would you try to front load audiences with a bunch of hard to retain back story that you're going to have to re-exposit for the main character anyway 45 minutes in. It's bad storytelling AND it weakens the all-important connection between audience and protagonist.
[As a note, I'm restricting myself to non-fanboy criticisms. There are things that rubbed me the wrong way as a fan, but those aren't the things that make a movie good or bad. For example, why is Amanda Waller a scientist? And skinny? Why does Abin Sur's escape pod land on the beach? Why are there so many building on Oa, but everyone's always hanging around outside?]
2. Include a plot. There's so little happening in this movie! Now, I don't expect every movie to be THE DARK KNIGHT, but that was a movie with tons of characters, all with competing agendas that were themselves an expression of their characters. In GREEN LANTERN, Hal get a ring, feels sorry for himself, and then shows up for some fight scenes. Hector Hammond didn't so much has a masterplan as a list of places to show up for fight scenes. Parallax had a motivation (revenge, I guess?), but his plan basically amounted to: (a) show up, and (b) be a monster. The plot of GREEN LANTERN all boils down to "Will Hal Jordan accept his destiny?" He's the hero, right? I'm guessing the answer is yes.
[Although if Guy Gardner showed up 2/3 of the way through the movie, took the ring from him and told him to stop being such a wuss, that would be HILLARIOUS!]
3. Seriously. A plot! Please. There are plenty of ways to add a plot to the movie they put out. For example:
- Make a mystery of who killed Abin Sur, and make it something Hal Jordan has to figure out.
- Make Sinestro a bit of a bad guy, working to undermine or subvert the Corps. Again, something for Hal to look into and stop.
- Make Hal Jordan's family a part of the story, instead of just window dressing. Hal tries to maintain a relationship with his nephew while at odds with his brothers. Or something. And they could totally use the kid as bait in Act 3.
- Or make the financial troubles of Ferris Air an extended part of the movie. Maybe Hal uses his ring to try to promote the business? Would give a chance to see normal people reacting to the world's first superhero (?) in a more extended/less superficial way.
- Or have Amanda Waller know a lot more than Hal, and have Hal probe to discover her secrets.
Anything that pushes the story to be about more than: "I'm afraid!" "Now, I am no longer afraid!"
4. Earth and one other planet is NOT Epic. Shuttling back and forth between Earth and one other planet (where everybody is made of CG and all they do is stand outside in big crowds) does NOT entitle you to compare your movie to Star Wars. Star Wars featured a wide variety of aliens and environments spread out across a quest-style story. If you want to go cosmic, go cosmic! Set the story largely in space and have Hal Jordan visit multiple alien worlds and interact with characters from those worlds and get to know the other Green Lanterns as
people lifeforms. Or don't! But then you need to use Oa better (perhaps more sparingly?) in the narrative. For instance: towards the end of the movie, Hal visits the Guardians to ask their permissions to defend the Earth from Parallax. And he needed their permission why? When you have a PLOT, you can ask "Does this scene serve the plot?" But when you have NO PLOT, you cannot ask "Does this scene serve the no plot?"
5. Sell us a movie first. Then toys. If you're old like me, you'll remember the old STAR WARS action figures from the original movies, where every background alien got its own figure. That was cool, because it allowed kids to recreate a lot of different scenes in the movies and to imagine new stories around all the minor characters. I can't help but feel that the makers of STAR WARS watched that movie and said, "Why are they building out all these different scenes and locations to introduce all of these action figures? Why not just feature them all in one scene where they stand together in a crowd?" I get that DC wants to introduce all this stuff to new audiences. But to invest such time and energy into detailing out what's essentially set decoration in the story strikes me as a misplaced priority.
Okay, I think that's all the NerdPlotRage I can manage for one post. I leave you with a quick round-up of links that mock the GREEN LANTERN: