Talking Movies: The Suicide Squad

Talking Movies

Released: 30 July 2021
Director: James Gunn
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Budget: $34 million
Stars: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone/Steve Agee, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi, and Viola Davis

The Plot:
After Colonel Rick Flag (Kinnaman) and Doctor Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn (Robbie) are captured and presumed killed during a mission into the war-torn nation of Corto Maltese, Amanda Waller (Davis) blackmails former mercenary and marksman Robert DuBois/Bloodsport (Elba) into leading a new Task Force X team on a suicide mission into the nation to acquire Gaius Grieves/The Thinker (Capaldi), who has vital information regarding the mysterious and potentially cataclysmic “Project: Starfish”.

The Background:
Task Force X, otherwise known by the more colourful sobriquet of “The Suicide Squad”, is a team of supervillains, anti-heroes, and convicts that first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #25 in September 1059. Created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, the team’s initial six-issue run was later expanded upon exponentially by writer John Ostrander in 1987; Ostrander defined many of the elements that are now closely associated with the team, such as them being commanded by Amanda Waller and forced into behaving under threat of remote execution. Due to the very nature of the team (the clue’s in the name after all), the Suicide Squad has seen many different incarnations over the years and has featured in a number of adaptations outside of the comics. They made their live-action debut in Suicide Squad (Ayer, 2016), a film that arguably was the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) attempt to emulate the success of Guardians of the Galaxy (Gunn, 2014); despite heavyweights like Will Smith and Jared Leto attached and bringing in nearly $750 million against a $175 million budget, Suicide Squad was a critical disaster. However, Suicide Squad did give us Margot Robbie’s fantastic portrayal of Harley Quinn, which received significant praise (and her own spin-off), and there has been a major fan demand for Warner Bros. to release the director’s cut of the film. Still, Suicide Squad made money and had a bankable star so a sequel (and several other spin-offs) was put into development. Perhaps because of Ayer’s public lambasting of Warner Bros.’ interference with his film, a new director was courted for the follow-up, with James Gunn being hired after he was briefly fired from Disney and Marvel Studios. Given complete creative control of the project, Gunn decided to produce a standalone sequel that featured some of DC’s most ridiculous villains and mashed them into a team of losers, misfits, and combustible personalities. Delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Suicide Squad was eventually released to overwhelmingly positive reviews that praised its action, gore, and humour. As of this writing, the film has only grossed $7 million at the box office but is projected to bring in $35 to 60 million and Gunn has already completed a spin-off series for HBO Max starring Christopher Smith/Peacemaker (John Cena).

The Review:
My experience of the Suicide Squad is basically almost zero; they rarely appear as a team in the DC Comics I read and usually just kind of crop up as a team of misfits for DC’s superheroes to fight with. As a result, when I heard that Warner Bros. were going to be putting time, effort, and money into a big-screen version of the team, my first question was…why? Why are we getting that and not a standalone Batman movie for Ben Affleck, or a Flash movie, or a Cyborg one…anything but randomly tossing out a Suicide Squad film. To this day, I’ll never understand why Warner Bros. didn’t retool the script to have Batman battling against Waller’s team that acted as a prequel to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Snyder, 2014) and showed exactly how and why Batman has fallen so far into the dark by explicitly centring around the Joker (Jared Leto) killing Jason Todd/Robin. Instead, the film didn’t really add all that much to the DCEU; it completely wasted Will Smith on a nobody like Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (he really should have been Slade Wilson/Deathstroke) and was so cut up by the studio that it’s basically been swept under the carpet now, and that’s a shame as its cast and concepts could have been used to far greater effect in a Ben Affleck-led Batman film.

Blackmailed by Amanda Waller, Bloodsport is forced to lead the new team to spare his daughter.

Thankfully, The Suicide Squad doesn’t go out of its way to retcon or erase the original film form continuity; I never expected that it would since Flag, Quinn, Waller, and Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) all returned to the film but you wouldn’t believe the arguments I had online with people who insisted that this wasn’t a sequel…when it clearly is. Sure, Harley’s reasoning for being back on the team is kind of hand-waved away and they don’t explicitly refer to events of any prefers DCEU films, but there’s an obvious and oft-stated familiarity between these characters, which is enough for me. Of course, we have a slew of new characters here, many of whom I am completely unfamiliar with, such as Bloodsport and Peacemaker. Although Gunn stated that he wrote the script specifically with Elba in mind for Bloodsport rather than a replacement for Deadshot…he basically is Deadshot but with a fancier suit. Like Deadshot, Bloodsport has a strained relationship with his daughter and is an expert marksman but he’s made a character all his own through his disinterest in joining the team, working with others, doing good, and his high-tech, quasi-alien suit that allows him to generate and assemble a wide variety of weaponry.

Peacemaker loves peace so much that he’s willing to kill for it!

Bloodsport not only immediately clashes with Waller when she threatens his daughter to coerce him into leading her new Suicide Squad, he also forms a fast rivalry with Peacemaker; another character I’m not too familiar with, Peacemaker is a unit of man who is so obsessed with peace that he’s willing to kill anyone to attain it. A psychopath hiding behind patriotism, Peacemaker is adept with melee weapons and guns but his presence by no means makes Bloodsport redundant as their personalities and methods are entirely different. Garbed in a ludicrous comic-accurate costume and built like a brick shithouse, Peacemaker is seemingly willing to align with the team to achieve peace but continuously grates against his teammates. He and Bloodsport often engage in a silent, unstated competition to see who can kill the most people in the most flamboyant or impressive ways but he does find common ground with the team when they share a few drinks while staking out the Thinker’s favourite night club.

Flag is a far more amiable character this time around, while Harley’s crazy has been dialled up a notch.

Returning from the last film are Rick Flag and Harley Quinn; unlike in the first film, Flag has, apparently, lost the rod up his ass and is a far more laid back and amiable character. Rather than seeing commanding Task Force X as his duty or a punishment of sorts, he treats them like friends or comrades and strikes up a camaraderie with most of them. While he also butts heads with Peacemaker, he has a former relationship with Bloodsport that allows the two to work as a more cohesive unit and, in turn, help galvanise the team of misfits into coming together in a workable strategy. Harley, by comparison, is largely the same character as before except her craziness has been dialled up somewhat. Still a bit of an odd choice for such a team, Harley proves that appearances are deceiving as her craziness makes her a formidable and unpredictable opponent who is just as likely to bust out a rocket launcher as she is to strangle a man to death with her legs during severe torture. Harley has a bit of a side story where she’s courted by President Silvio Luna (Juan Diego Botto) and provides much of the more explicit comedic moments thanks to her trademark mad-cap nature and her gunning down countless soldiers while animated flowers and birds fly around in the background.

The team is rounded about by some of DC’s most ridiculous characters.

The team is rounded out by a couple of new characters, most notably Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher II (Melchior), Nanaue/King Shark (Stallone/Agee), and Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man (Dastmalchian). While we learn a bit about Bloodsport and his relationship with his daughter and there’s a bit of character development for Quinn in her vow to not let men use her again, we don’t really learn too much about Peacemaker’s background and these three latter characters get quite a bit of play and have quite an impact on the film. We learn all about Ratcatcher II’s childhood, for example, and her fondness for rats (which Bloodsport is deathly afraid of); despite her lethargic attitude and borderline narcolepsy, she is also the only one of the team to actually befriend and treat King Shark like an actual person rather than a burden. King Shark looks absolutely fantastic and is characterised as a ravenous, child-like creature who is often the butt of the team’s mistreatment, though he is also responsible for some of the film’s most humorous moments. And then there’s Polka-Dot Man, a ridiculous character on paper who is given new life as a bat-shit insane psychopath who is constantly spawning and at threat from cosmic polka dots thanks to his mother’s experimentations. By the finale, his character arc becomes a tragic story of redemption, of sorts, since he begins the film literally hoping for them all to die and end sit ready to sacrifice himself to save Corto Maltese from a rampaging monster.

Waller is determined to use the Thinker to keep America’s involvement in Project: Starfish under wraps.

Behind the team, safe in the United States, is the ice-queen herself; Amanda Waller is just as impassive and manipulative as ever, fully prepared to use any means necessary to coerce the convicts into getting bombs implanted into their necks and heading out on a suicide mission in the hopes of shaving ten years off their sentences. Once they’re out in the field, Waller tells them only what they need to know and, the moment they go off-mission, doesn’t hesitate to remote detonate the bombs and blow their heads off. Similar to the last film, Waller’s motivations for the team’s excursion into Corto Maltese are shrouded in deception and revolve more around trying to cover up America’s part in Project Starfish rather than destroying the weapon but, this time around, her control staff are aghast at her extreme methods. Also similar to the first film is the fact that the team is battling against an army of foes rather than tackling a singular enemy head-on; the Thinker fills the roles of a secondary antagonist to a degree, being a maniacal scientist who has gleefully spent the last thirty years experimenting with Project: Starfish on humans in a variety of gruesome and reprehensible ways though, in the end, his role in the story is quite small beyond the team forcing him to get them into Jötunheim, the Nazi-era bunker where the project is based.

The Nitty-Gritty (Minor Spoilers Ahead):
Like the first film, The Suicide Squad (terrible title, by the way; adding a “The” to a sequel’s title is always a red flag for me and smacks of laziness) uses music to punctuate many of its scenes. Unlike that film, though, it benefits from far better editing and pacing; where Suicide Squad was like a frenetic music video (especially in the first ten minutes or so, which bombard the viewer with so much sensory input that it’s nearly impossible to know what’s going on), The Suicide Squad is far more deliberate and conservative with its use of music and edits. The film begins in media res and then flashes back to show us how Waller’s two teams ended up being recruited and sent off to Jötunheim and, at various points, the film cuts off a dramatic reveal or moment to skip over to the other characters and show us what they’ve been up to. The film also contains a number of creative on-screen titles, presumably to make the film easier to watch when on HBO Max or simply to add to the zany nature of the film.

The Suicide Squad trumps its predecessor by upping the action, violence, and destruction.

Where The Suicide Squad really stands out from, and trumps, the last film is in its use of gore, copious swearing, violence, and explosive action. The first film felt like it was holding back by having the team battling glorified zombies but this one pulls absolutely no punches; the opening scene alone sets the tone by showing Flag lead a doomed beach-front assault that sees members of his team getting immolate, shot to pieces, and blown into bloody chunks. King Shark is responsible for many moments of bloody violent thanks to his ravenous hunger and the competition between Bloodsport and Peacemaker lead the two to murdering numerous members of the Corto Maltese rebellion. Hell, Harley gets an entire side plot where she fights, shoots, and kills her way out of Luna’s mansion and the film’s hard-hitting action scenes are punctuated by endlessly entertaining explosions, gore, and over the top violence that finally does what the first film so desperately tried to do (i.e. take what we saw in the first two Deadpool films (Miller, 2016; Leitch, 2018) and ramp it up a few notches).

Based on the team’s nature, not every character gets out alive, especially when Starro goes on a rampage!

Gunn packs the film with all kinds of C- to G-tier characters from DC Comics’ vast library; given free reign to use, and kill, whichever characters he wanted, no character is safe no matter how powerful they are or how established they are from the first film. This is exemplified in the gory opening but continues throughout the film as the team are constantly against the odds, and themselves, and comes to a head in the finale. I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to say that the team end up battling against Starro the Conqueror since trailers and interviews have already shown this but seeing Starro, of all things, onscreen is just…exhilarating. Reminiscent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Starro goes on a rampage through Corto Maltese, spewing out tiny Facehugger extensions of itself to instantly create an army of brainless zombies to spread its influence and oppose the Suicide Squad. Even better, Starro is presented in full daylight and looks equal parts incredible and ludicrous, which is entirely the point, of course. Still, I am a little confused as to where these Suicide Squad films feel they have to pit the team against armies of zombie-like enemies and cosmic-level threats when they’re arguably better suited to black ops missions and such but seeing the remnants of the team come together as a unit to try and take Starro down is something that appeals to the comic book, action, and Kaiju fan in me and it was massively entertaining as a finale. It’s just a shame that we’ll probably never see these characters interacting with the Justice League given the state of the DCEU.

The Summary:
While I don’t agree with the state of the DCEU, or Warner Bros. decision to funnel funds and certain actors into projects like The Suicide Squad when they should be concentrating on bringing some of their more well-known heroes and properties to life, and while I had some problems with the film’s presentation (those titles, for example, were a little distracting at times), The Suicide Squad was an absolute blast. Clearly evoking the bombastic action movies of the eighties and nineties and embracing the most ridiculous aspects of the source material, it presents its over the top characters and premise without shame or embarrassment and goes all-in with the concept of a team of disposable misfits being in over their heads. Punctuated by some amusing moments and character beats, copious amounts of gratuitous gore and violence, and a surprising amount of poignant heart and characterisation (to say nothing of a few unexpected twists along the way), The Suicide Squad more than makes up for the failings of the last film. Again, it’s just a shame that it’s so unpredictable as to whether or not these characters will actually interact with their respective heroes in the wider DCEU as I’d love to see more of them and for the DCEU to actually, properly bring all these disparate threads together but if all you’re looking for is a kick-ass action film that isn’t shy about pulling its punches then The Suicide Squad has you well covered!

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Have you seen The Suicide Squad? If so, what did you think to it and how would you rate it compared to the first film? Which of the new characters was your favourite? Who did you think was going to die and who were you surprised to see survive? Are you a fan of the Suicide Squad concept and comics? Would you have preferred to see the villains appear elsewhere, like in a solo Batman or Flash movie or do you think it’s a good thing that the DCEU is so sporadic? Are there any villains you’d like to see included in another Suicide Squad film and are you going to be watching the Peacemaker spin-off? Whatever your thoughts about The Suicide Squad, feel free to leave a comment below.

Talking Movies [Brightest Day]: Green Lantern: Extended Cut

In 2014, the 2nd of February was dubbed “Green Lantern Day” because, by the American calendar, the date read as “2814”, the sector of space assigned to Earth in DC Comics. While the significance of this date has passed as the years have changed, it seems like a great excuse to celebrate DC Comics’ green-garbed intergalactic police corps but, sadly, the date clashes with another important anniversary so, this year, I’m switching it to today, the 2nd of August, instead since this would have been 2/8/14 back then as well.

Talking Movies

Released: 14 October 2011
Originally Released: 17 June 2011
Director: Martin Campbell
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Budget: $200 million
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, and Clancy Brown

The Plot:
When test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is bequeathed a powerful ring that can make his thoughts reality, he becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corps, a vast organisation of intergalactic lawmen. However, Hal’s will is tested when Parallax (Brown), a malevolent entity and the embodiment of fear, is awakened and threatens the safety of not just Earth but the entire universe!

The Background:
The Green Lantern character first appeared in All-American Publications’ (a precursor of DC Comics) All-American Comics #16 in July 1940. Then, the pseudonym was the alter-ego of Alan Scott but, in 1959, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz enlisted writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to reinvent the character as Hal Jordan and, in the process, create countless other Green Lanterns in the establishment of an intergalactic police force. Production of a live-action adaptation of the character can be traced back to 1997 and, at one point, Jack Black was set to start in what sounds like would have been an absolutely dreadful action/comedy take on the character.

Green Lantern hasn’t had the best history when it comes to live-action adaptations…

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) impressing at the box office with its first phase of movies, Warner Bros. made significant strides towards a Green Lantern film with a script heavily influenced by the seminal “Secret Origin” (Johns, et al, 2008) story arc, and director Martin Campbell and star Ryan Reynolds locked in to bring to life the daunting, effects-heavy superhero sci-fi. Unfortunately, Green Lantern proved to be a critical and commercial failure; the movie made just under $220 million at the box office and reviews were scathing, scuppering Warner’s hopes for a sequel and delaying the start of their own cinematic universe. As much as I am a fan of Reynolds, I can’t say that I was too impressed with how much he has bad-mouthed this film (which really isn’t as bad as people think) in the years since its release, especially after he was well into honouring the legacy and influence of the role during production.

The Review:
When we’re first introduced to Hal in the modern day, he’s a far cry from the straight-laced, serious space cop of the comic books; perhaps thanks to having Reynolds in the role, Hal is a womanising, snarky, and arrogant test pilot who drives a muscle car, frequently shows up late to work, and generally shirks responsibility at every opportunity. The only time he takes any situation serious is when he’s sat in a cockpit, where he’s all business and undeniably the best test pilot on the Ferris payroll but his attitude leaves a lot to be desired. It’s interesting that the filmmakers chose to make these changes and portray Hal as a far more immature and flawed character; it works for his overall story arc as he has to grow into his role as a superhero and learn the usual, cliché lessons about responsibility and duty and gives Hal a snarky edge that makes for the film’s more comedic moments but it’s difficult to believe that this version of Hall will ever grow into the Corps’ most revered soldier.

Hal’s cavalier attitude makes him a great test pilot but causes friction with those around him.

Hal’s attitude stems, largely, from the trauma of experiencing the death of his father, Martin (Jon Tenney), who died during a test flight right before Hal’s eyes when Hal was just a kid. Having witnessed the most distressing and harrowing event possible, Hal has grown up entirely fearless; he never worries about his safety, takes unnecessary risks, doesn’t let anything or anyone get to him, and doesn’t believe in a no-win situation. This, naturally, doesn’t sit well with his friends, family, co-workers, or superiors, who all believe that Hal has a death wish and is being unreasonably irresponsible with his life. Despite this, he has a close relationship with his nephew, Jason (Dylan James), and there are clearly unresolved issues between him and childhood friend, co-pilot, and boss Carol Ferris (Lively).

Carol believes in and is attracted to Hal but cannot sanction his lackadaisical attitude.

Hal believes that Carol has lost her way somewhat since she has, largely, traded the cockpit for a desk, though Carol asserts that she’s simply grown up and accepted her responsibilities. She cares for Hal and is clearly still attracted to him but despairs of his lackadaisical and cavalier attitude; she just wants him to grow up a bit and to be responsible for once in his life rather than coasting along on his admittedly impressive abilities. In a refreshing change of pace, she immediately sees through his rudimentary disguise as Green Lantern (even comment on the ridiculousness of such an ineffective mask) and accepts and supports his newfound superhero life. Indeed, she urges him that the power and responsibility of the ring isn’t something that he can just walk away from and encourages him to actually try and live up to his potential for a change. Far more than just an achingly gorgeous face, Carol actually helps Hal out when Parallax comes to Earth and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, making her more than a match for his trademark snark.

Hal is subjected to harsh training and criticism from the likes of Sinestro.

However, while Hal describes himself as a “screw up” and even his friend, Thomas Kalmaku (Taika Waititi) believes him to be an asshole, he doesn’t hesitate to pull Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) from his crashed spacecraft, does everything he can to keep him alive, and is genuinely distraught when Abin dies in his arms (he even takes the time to bury Abin’s body after he dies). Confused and overwhelmed at the alien and the strange ring now in his possession, Hal is equally blown away when the ring transports him to Oa and garbs him in the uniform of the Green Lantern Corps; however, Hal adjusts to these alien sights and concepts with an awe-struck bewilderment and struggles to come to grips with his ring’s capabilities and the focusing of his willpower. On Oa, Hal is greeted by Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush), who introduces him to the planet and briefs him on the basics of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal’s training is very much a crash course and, honestly, should have taken up a greater deal of the film’s focus and screen time as Hal is put through a tough and uncompromising boot camp at the hands of Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan). Almost immediately, before Hal even has a chance to master the basics of ring-slinging, Thaal Sinestro (Strong) interrupts to put Hal through his paces; a being of immense pride and a much-respected member of the Corps, Sinestro was Abin’s friend and former protégé and regards Hal as a disappointment to his mentor’s legacy. Sinestro’s opinion is only fuelled by the fact that Hal is (somehow…) the first ever human being to become a Green Lantern but, truthfully, his focus and mentality comes more from his overwhelming militant mindset. Sinestro believes, to his very core, in the power and authority of the Guardians and the Corps and devotes himself entirely to their cause, rallying his fellow Green Lanterns in a unified, if futile, effort to oppose Parallax and maintain the sanctity of their intergalactic police force.

Hector, already a troubled scientist, is driven to maniacal insanity by Parallax’s influence.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Hal also faces significant threats at home in the form of his childhood friend Doctor Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard); sadly, Hector isn’t that threatening or impressive as a villain and is more like a quirky, disassociated, unhinged child in a man’s body. Hector resents Hal’s cocky attitude, rugged good looks, and relationship with Carol, harbours unrequited feelings of his own for Carol, and is constantly trying to please his father, Robert (Tim Robbins), a United States senator who Hector feels is constantly disappointed and embarrassed by him. Hector believes his genius and ability are finally being acknowledged when he is hand-picked by Doctor Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett) to perform the autopsy on Abin’s body and is enraged when he finds out that his father arranged it; having been possessed by exposure to Parallax’s yellow fear energy, Hammond slowly develops mental abilities and degenerates into a hideous, hunchback like creature, his inner bitterness and ugliness reflected in his warped and transformed exterior. However, given the larger threat of Parallax and the fact that we briefly see how big and limitless the universe is, Hector isn’t much of a threat and is easily bested by Hal with the simplest of deceptions.

Rather than a giant space bug, Parallax is a massive, fear-inducing cloud.

Not that Parallax himself fairs much better; rather than the giant, intergalactic space bug and the embodiment of fear, Parallax is, instead, a fallen Guardian as the filmmakers merged elements of Parallax and the dark Guardian Krona (which, to be fair, I feel does work in the context of the film and simplifies the story somewhat). Sadly, because the Guardians look so damn goofy, Parallax doesn’t look all that intimidating and just appears to be a big, angry-looking, cartoony head and that’s when we can actually see him since, for the most part, he takes the form of an ethereal, destructive cloud and, if there’s anything experience has told us, it’s that clouds are never scary or intimidating.

The Nitty-Gritty:
The extended version of the film only adds about ten minutes to the film’s run time but the majority of this is used to further develop Hal’s childhood and his relationship with his friends and family. Indeed, the extended version includes an entirely new opening sequence that shows more of Hal, Carol, and Hector’s childhood and the bond between Hal and his father, and his nephew. It’s not much extra footage but it does help to flesh Hal’s character out a little bit more and to build up an understanding of why he is the way he is.

Green Lantern‘s abundance of CGI makes the film resemble a cartoon more often than not.

Of course, one of the major problems with Green Lantern is the quality of the special effects; given the concept is quite unique and necessitates a great deal of work to render not just the Green Lantern’s constructs but also the various worlds and aliens that make up the Green Lantern Corps, and the universe, a great deal of special effects are necessary for a film such as this. Unfortunately, many of the film’s CGI just doesn’t work and is flawed; Parallax and the Guardians, especially, look pretty terrible, to say nothing of Kilowog, Tomar-Re, and, yes, the Green Lantern suits themselves. Personally, I think the idea to render them full in CGI was a really good idea (…on paper) given their otherworldly make up and the fact that they’re generated from the ring and the problem isn’t so much that the suits don’t look good (though they, like a lot of the CGI, do appear disturbingly cartoony) it’s that Hal’s mask looks so damn goofy.

It’s a shame the film didn’t employ a greater use of practical and traditional special effects.

This is a shame because Green Lantern does a pretty decent job at adapting the concept and bringing to life such an abstract and near-limitless superhero. As I mentioned, the idea of the suit works really well and Oa, especially, looks pretty good; however, while I like that it’s teeming with life and various alien races, it’s very…busy and kind of looks like a mess of conflicting colours and dodgy CGI. Such shots are contrasted by how good the film’s more practical effects are; the scene where Hal and Carol out-pace automated aircraft is an exhilarating sequence and the make-up effects used to bring Sinestro and Abin Sur to life are top-notch (hell, even Hector looks suitably horrific when he mutates into little more than a hunchbacked man-monster). It’s almost as if the filmmakers should have veered more towards practical effects, maybe even employing the use of traditional puppets and animatronics for the Guardians and Kilowog, and use the CGI sparingly rather than rendering 90% of the film in a mess of computer effects.

Hal eventually comes to accept the responsibility of the ring and grows into his heroic role.

A central theme of the film is Hal’s inability to live up to the expectations placed upon him and to accept responsibility. On Earth, this makes him a highly skilled but unreliable test pilot; when on Oa, it leads to him walking away from the Green Lantern Corps after what feels like maybe an hour, tops, of training. He takes Sinestro’s criticisms regarding him (and the human race) to heart and uses his condemnation as the perfect excuse to reject the destiny placed upon him by Abin Sur; however, for some reason, he is allowed to retain possession of the ring and, reluctantly, becomes a superhero back on Earth. This is directly paralleled with Hector’s own arc as he struggles to live up to his father’s expectations and gives in to the hate, fear, and power of Parallax’s influence; fuelled by his negative emotions, he forces Hal into acting with the ring’s power and, thus, into a heroic role that he, eventually, willingly assumes in order to defend the Earth from Parallax.

Despite Hal’s victory, Sinestro switches to the yellow ring for an unresolved cliffhanger.

Parallax, while an unimposing and disappointing villain compared to both his comic book counterpart and other villains of superhero films, is certainly built up to be an intimidating threat. His ability to induce fear and then suck the life out of his victims is certainly unique and his power only grows as he absorbs the lifeforce of others. While the Green Lanterns are notoriously supposed to be entirely without fear, it’s clear that the Guardians fear Parallax’s power; indeed, they are reluctant to send their corps against Parallax out of fear for their lives and they only divulge Parallax’s true origins to Sinestro after he pleads with them for the knowledge to oppose his power. While Sinestro comes to believe that the only way to defeat Parallax is with fear itself (forging a yellow ring in the process), he eventually saves Hal after his battle and defeat of the creature in the finale and, despite having witnessed that the green light of willpower is powerful enough to overcome even the embodiment of fear, decides to switch to a yellow power ring in, perhaps, one of the most tantalising mid-credits scenes in all of cinema.

The Summary:
Green Lantern is a perfectly fine and action-packed science-fiction spectacle; it’s full of humour and big special effects and has a really strong cast, with Mark Strong, especially, standing out as a perfect choice for Hal’s mentor and rival, Sinestro. I think the main problem with Green Lantern, though, is that it isn’t really sure what it wants to be; it’s not a sci-fi epic as a disappointing amount of the film is set on Earth, and the time spent on Earth is nowhere near as interesting as the potential of space and the Green Lantern Corps. When I saw Green Lantern, it was a month or so after seeing Thor (Branagh, 2011), a film that did a much better job of balancing its cosmic, otherworldly elements in a grounded and relatable way and I think that’s the problem with Green Lantern: it’s too confused about its disparate elements and I can’t help but feel a more elaborate approach in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy (Gunn, 2014) and Serenity (Whedon, 2005) would be a far more fitting direction if we ever see the Green Lantern Corps in live-action again. Personally, though, it’s not as bad as people make it out to be and there’s plenty here that’s worth keeping around (Mark Strong, for one) and it really wouldn’t have taken much to fold this film into the existing DC Extended Universe at one point but, ultimately, it’s just a shame that we never got a sequel to improve upon the film’s high (and low) points and that the film failed to properly live up to the potential of the concept.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

What did you think to Green Lantern? Were you a fan of the movie when it first released or did you warm to it over time? What did you think to Reynolds in the title role and who would you prefer to see take up the mantle at some point? Were you a fan of the film’s overuse of CGI? What did you think to the animated suit and depiction of Parallax? Would you have liked to see where a sequel would have taken the story or do you think a full reboot is the way to go? Which Green Lantern character, villain, or story is your favourite and why? How are you celebrating this pseudo-Green Lantern day today? Whatever you think about Green Lantern, and the Green Lantern comics books, feel free to leave a comment below.