Green Lantern Review and Bluray Features
17 Jun 2011
Q&A with Director
He has built a solid reputation as a top-fight action director who successfully rebooted the James Bond franchise with the gritty CASINO Royale, but Martin Campbell longs for a return of the days when movie studio heads concentrated on telling good stories with believable characters.
So what is he doing directing a 3D summer outer-space blockbuster like Green Lantern, which is based on a comic-book superhero, is bursting with action and special effects and which he cheerfully admits is a little “cheesy”?
“I did it because I’d never done a superhero movie before,” he says frankly, “and they’re complicated. I had no idea. You accept these jobs and then you realise you’re in the quicksand. It was an extraordinary learning curve, conceptualizing the characters, going to another planet, deciding what the planet looks like and keeping a sort of reality, if you can call it that. The most difficult thing, apart from the damned effects, which are so time-consuming, is finding a tone and keeping the reality of it.”
The Green Lantern is one of the lesser-known comic book superheroes and in fact started life not as one character but as an elite force of thousands of alien warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order. They first appeared in a DC comic in 1940 and have evolved over time with the introduction in 1959 of Hal Jordan, the first human Green Lantern, a gifted but cocky test pilot played in the movie by Ryan Reynolds.
According to comic-book lore, a sworn oath, a lantern and a ring are the tools that provide a Green Lantern with his powers; with them and his own strength of will, he can create or do anything his mind can envision, which gives Campbell and his team plenty of scope for some extraordinary special-effects-driven stunts.
In the adventure, which is destined to be the first of yet another superhero franchise, Hal Jordan joins the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps to battle Parallex, an enemy threatening to destroy the balance of power in the universe.
New Zealand-born Campbell, whose previous films include the 1995 Bond adventure Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro and its sequel and last year’s Edge of Darkness, says: “I grew up with Superman and Batman and the Lone Ranger and when the Green Lantern came through the letter box and they asked me if I’d like to do it I read up on him and he struck me as probably being way more interesting – because of the origin story, the different universe, the different planet and the Green Lantern corps – than a Superman or a Batman, who are much more limited.”
More seriously, he added: “These superhero movies are interesting because obviously they’re fantasies; they’re not Shakespeare, so in order to make them credible and find the correct balance in terms of the tone of the movie you have to get actors that ground it and bring something over and above the script.
“I had seen Ryan in Buried and I chose him largely because of his ability as an actor. He looks great, has a sense of humour and is physically terrific. What more could you want?”
Campbell filled out the co-starring cast with Blake Lively, the Gossip Girl star who appeared with Ben Affleck in The Town, the British Shakespearean actor Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins.
Campbell spent a total of two and a half years working on the Green Lantern – “Too long, but there you are,” he shrugs. He shot for 103 days with a budget of around £150 million pounds – £50 million pounds of it for visual effects – HIS DAYS BEGINNING AT 4AM AND FINISHING AT 7PM.
When work on the film began, he says, James Cameron’s Avatar had not yet been released and there was no talk of Green Lantern being in 3D. It was converted after filming had finished, although, says Campbell, “I’m not a 3-D man; I’m a 2-D man.
“But I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it in 3D. I think it turned out pretty well. The technology is a whole lot better than it was and it will continue to improve. It’s going to be very interesting to see Martin Scorsese’s new film [Hugo Cabret] because he has shot it all in 3D from beginning to end and I’m sure it will be terrific.”
Campbell has no firm plans for his next project. He says he would happily leave big-budget blockbusters behind and go back to making a £3 million movie if the script was good.
“My Dinner With Andre 2, perhaps,” he laughed. “A film with just two characters. I’d do it in a skinny minute.”
Q&A with Cast
Question: Ryan, as you delved into the really expansive mythology that the comic books have built for Green Lantern, what were the discoveries you made that helped you in developing the character? How did you want to make this superhero different from the batch of superheroes currently on the big screen?
RYAN REYNOLDS: A lot of the current iterations of superheroes are a little bit darker and a little bit more serious in tone. The thing I distilled from diving into that mythology and that universe is that there’s a tone that’s a little bit different. It’s a bit of a throwback, in that sense. There’s a lot of fun with the character. He’s not a character that’s overly funny, but he’s witty. I always say he’s that guy who can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl. There’s something really iconic and fun about that guy because anything’s possible with him. For me, there wasn’t any particular narrative or storyline because we were telling an origin story in this film. It was mostly just tone, finding out who Hal Jordan was, and also distilling what it is that the fanboys love about this character and making sure that that could be found up on screen. If they love it, there’s a good chance that a broader audience, who’s being introduced to this character for the first time, is also going to love it.
Did you ever have any doubt about playing this particular superhero?
REYNOLDS: Of course, I have trepidation playing any role. You don’t get into a plane unless you have a great pilot. Martin Campbell was attached, and the opportunity to work with him was huge for me, but also you look at who Martin hires as well. There were all of these incredible talents that were involved, so it was impossible to not want to play this guy. Also, I just wanted to learn. I wanted to see what it was like to do a film like this. I had never, ever done anything that involved this much post-production, so I was excited to see how that would all pan out.
Blake, what was the appeal of portraying a character in a superhero movie? What are your thoughts on tackling a strong female character, like Carol Ferris?
BLAKE LIVELY: I think Carol is very unique, in this genre. She’s an incredibly powerful woman, and she’s also a fighter pilot, along with running her father’s aviation company. It’s rare to see such strong women existing as equals amongst men in film, especially in this genre. And, I love that, if this franchise continues, she does become a villain. That was also a very, very appealing element to this.
You play a more realistic leading lady, who is honest and straightforward. Was that you bringing your own energy to it, or was the character written that way?
LIVELY: It was definitely written that way. That was what was so appealing about Carol. In a lot of ways, this film was much more straightforward and honest. In the scene where Carol first sees Hal as the Green Lantern, in every single superhero film, you wonder, “How on Earth do they not see that this is the person they’ve known their whole life and that they’ve been intimate with? You don’t recognize him because he has a four-inch mask on his face?” This movie tackled those things, and it’s a really refreshing take, on such a big film full of fantasy, to have those moments where you actually acknowledge what every other comic film doesn’t. That bled through to each of our characters. Hal is a superhero, but he’s also very, very human and he’s flawed, and he doesn’t know if he wants to be a superhero. That’s incredibly unique, and that’s why this story is so special. You can really connect with the people, at the heart of this story.
It’s always interesting to see villains before they’re villains. Mark, knowing where Sinestro goes, what kind of discussions and thought process did you have, when it came to how the character was going to be portrayed, in this particular story?
MARK STRONG: If you know the comics, you know the direction that Sinestro goes in. It’s great to play him before he goes there. Usually villains are just villains in these things. They’re very straightforward. So, it’s nice to have him as a hero, in this one. I couldn’t really imbue him with anything to do with where he goes after this movie, but I tried to give him characteristics that would lend themselves to being believable, should he decide to go to the dark, or yellow side. I couldn’t think about where the stories go. The source material is so vast. There’s plenty to draw from, but I had to really just stick to the script, as it was. If we do go somewhere else with it, the hope is that he’s a believable character who would go that way.
Ryan, the last movie people saw you in was Buried, where you were in a box the whole time. How did you go from playing that role, to playing this over-the-top superhero? What is the difference between doing a small, independent movie and this big-budget Hollywood film?
REYNOLDS: The two movies are more similar than not, actually, in the sense that Buried involved a lot of imagination. The people that I was talking to on the phone, the entire time, were not on the phone with me. Going from a small, wooden box to a large, blue box for Green Lantern didn’t feel too dissimilar either. I’d never worked on a movie that required this much imagination. It felt like I was a kid again. Everything you’re seeing in this world, you have to imagine. Granted, we do have amazing people that are working behind the scenes, not the least of which is our production designer, Grant Major, who created a lot of the worlds for The Lord of the Rings. He would come down with visual references, so I had an idea what I was looking at, but I would have to imagine what that was, and then express it through my eyes for the audience. That was a big challenge. And, I was definitely happy to be able to get up and walk around, even if I had to wear a crash test dummy suit, for the most part.
Having played Deadpool and now Green Lantern, what’s your background with comics? How many of the DC and Marvel characters do you want to play?
REYNOLDS: By 2014, I’m going to do Wonder Woman, but after that, I think I’m gonna hang up the lasso and the short, short shorts. Growing up, I read a bit of X-Men stuff, and I loved Deadpool. My brother introduced me to Deadpool. Beyond that, I didn’t know that much about comics. Those are the ones I stuck to. Deadpool is a character that I love and I got a great opportunity to play him, in more of an ancillary sense, in a film, which was great, because it allowed me to jump in and play him, but then not be committed to too much beyond that. I do have that film that’s in development, and we’ll see what happens with that, but for the most part, Green Lantern is the first real iconic superhero role that I’ve ever had the great opportunity to play, and I’m pretty damn grateful for that.
Mark and Peter, what was it like to have to put on the prosthetics for your characters?
STRONG: Well, Peter had a much heavier burden than me. Suffice it to say, they take a long time to put on, but they’re incredibly effective.
PETER SARSGAARD: We shared the same glue. When I finished with the film, Mark was starting, and my passing comment to him was, “You’re going to find that you have this thing about the glue.” You dream about the glue. You want the glue again. It’s the smell. I still think about it sometimes. And, it was impossible to get off. A couple of days later, you’d find a long strand of glue on your face. It was a challenge, but for me, as an actor, there were these different stages, and none of them looked like me. Even the beginning doesn’t look like me. It was a gift. I could tell where I was, in the movie. A lot of times, you’re in a movie and you’re like, “Right, we’re in the part where what happens?” But, I had clear stages that told me where I was in the movie, which is nice.
Ryan, how did you use your will to overcome your fear of flying, in terms of doing the wire work?
REYNOLDS: On the third day, they basically fired me 200 feet in the air, at 60 feet per second, and that got me over it right quick. Without an adult diaper or anything, I just did it the regular way. That helped. After awhile, you’re playing on these wires and they’re so articulate. The technology for that is amazing now. You’re moving left and right, and up and down, and all that stuff, and I was actually getting a little cocky with it, by the end. I was wondering if we could actually find some way to transport me back to my hotel, each day, on the wires. I loved it, after awhile. The best way to get over it is just to do it. The fear of flying in a plane is a whole separate issue. I’m being told to get on a commercial airliner and trust a drunk pilot, and I don’t like that. I can’t see what’s in front of me, and there’s maybe some control issues there, mixed with a few daddy issues.
Mark, how did you prepare for this role?
STRONG: I couldn’t do any research on aliens. I don’t know any aliens, so I didn’t know what kind of a guy he was. All I could do was use human characteristics, and it was very obvious to me that he’s a military commander type of figure, who is very wary of this new Lantern. He feels like his priority is the Corps, and if this guy’s going to be the weak link in the Corps, then he’s going to have to do something about it. The way he’s drawn, it’s a muscular drawing, so you have to try to bring an element of that to the way you play him. That’s what I tried to do.
Was part of the deal that the role would get bigger in sequels?
STRONG: As far as where we go from this film, it was never discussed. It’s there in the source material, but this was the movie we were making.
When did you shoot the tag that’s after the credits?
STRONG: I think that was shot speculatively. There was the thought that there would be an introduction of the idea that the yellow ring corrupts him. Perhaps it was felt that the body of the film just wasn’t the right time to introduce it. The thing to do was to introduce everybody to the mythology and the story, and then give them that little taste. Certainly, the fanboys who know about it will be excited, and anybody else will get the opportunity of understanding where it could go from here.
How did you guys feel, seeing the final product?
REYNOLDS: For me, it was incredible because I was basically shooting in a box for a good portion of the movie with the blue screen. To see these immensely talented artists, who are world builders, create this universe around me, that I’m interacting with in a very real way, was mind-blowing. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It was a feat of engineering, unto itself. That was pretty spectacular, that first time. I saw it in 3D as well, and I was practically weeping. It was pretty incredible.
STRONG: Usually, in a movie, you’ll go to see it and you’ll have forgotten what everyone else is doing in the movie. You’ll remember your parts because you shot them. But, on this, you actually get to see the bits that you’re in that you’d forgotten about because there’s nothing around you while you’re shooting. You’re in a big blue room, and every object is covered in blue or green. So, it was amazing to see the environment that you were in, what you were imagining, and seeing it realized. They’ve done such an amazing job. It’s mind-blowing.
LIVELY: It was a very special experience for me because I got to watch this film, almost as an audience member. I grew up always being a fan of these comic book films, and I would come out of them wanting to fly and kick someone’s butt. Never have I seen a film that I’m in where I’m able to watch it somewhat objectively. I was surprised throughout the film, and cheering. It was a really cool experience to be on screen and see the way that it came together. We saw all of the visual effects, all of the artwork, and all of the design, but it was such a big undertaking that it seemed impossible that this movie would actually come out. We’ve been living with this movie for a year and a half now, so I can’t believe that it’s actually here. I’m so excited to share it with everyone because I think it is very special.
Peter, what did you think the first time you saw what your character would look like?
SARSGAARD: I’m glad I’m married because I’m not going to get any dates from this movie. The thing that impresses me the most is, when it comes right down to it, it all has to be in Martin’s head somehow. There are a lot of people doing different jobs, and it’s incredibly collaborative. There were people doing CG here and scores there, but there’s a guy that has to make sure that all of those things come together and turn out great. I’m just extraordinarily impressed that he managed to contain this in his mind, in some way.
Blake, coming from a TV show with a mainly female audience, like Gossip Girl has, and moving into a comic book movie, which tends to be more male-leaning, what should be done to attract more of a female audience, and why should women watch this movie?
LIVELY: I’m always attracted to strong women, and I think Carol is a character I wish was portrayed more on film. It’s so nice to see a woman fighter pilot up there, flying a plane, and I think women will appreciate that. Somebody said to me, “This is a very modern film because now women are strong,” and I said, “Women have always been strong, it’s just a new idea to see it more on film.” I think women will appreciate that. I think anybody that goes to a theater wants to sit down and be transported to another world for two hours, and this movie is appealing to everybody. It’s full of heart, humor, action, and the fact that it takes place, not just on planet Earth, but it’s also in the entire galaxy, with tons of alien species and different planets, and I don’t care who you are, your going to have your imagination blown open. Also, Ryan is half-naked for a good part of the film.
RT/Meta Critic Review
A very good movie for a first run at this particular hero! R.R was the right choice. A good balance of action both in the suit and out. I look forward to number two! (MovieTone/MetaCritic)
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, flesh tones 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.
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
- Extended and Theatrical Cuts: Two versions ofGreen Lantern are included: a 114-minute theatrical cut and a roomier (but no more eventful) 123-minute extended cut.
- Maximum Movie Mode: Green Lantern’s Light(HD, 161 minutes): DCE Chief Creative Officer and Green Lantern comicbook writer Geoff Johns leads viewers on a behind-the-scenes look at the film, its development, special effects, character designs and more. It’s more of a standard Picture-in-Picture track than a full-blown host-controlled Maximum Movie Mode, but it’s still a high quality experience teeming with cast and crew interviews, accessible Focus Point featurettes, pop-up trivia, character bios and other goodies.
- Focus Points(HD, 47 minutes): The Maximum Movie Mode’s production featurettes are also accessible from the main menu. Segments include “The Art of Green Lantern,” “Weapons Hot: The U.C.A.V. Dog Fight,” “Reinventing the Superhero Costume,” “Ring Slinging 101,” “We Are the Corps,” “Acting Under 10 Pounds of Silicone,” “Guardians Revealed” and “When Parallax Attacks.”
- The Universe According to Green Lantern(HD, 20 minutes): DC Comics artists, writers and executives, as well as filmmakers and fans, dig into the Green Lantern universe, its characters, mythos and comicbook evolution.
- Ryan Reynolds Becomes the Green Lantern(HD, 9 minutes): Reynolds dons a pair of dotted pajamas to portray Hal Jordan and discusses the development of his character, his approach to the material and his training and performance.
- Deleted Scenes(HD, 7 minutes): Five inconsequential (and unfinished) deleted scenes that don’t leave much of a mark.
- Justice League #1 Digital Comic(HD, 9 minutes): Enjoy the first issue of “Justice League” from “The New 52” DC Comics relaunch.
- Preview ofGreen Lantern: The Animated Series (HD, 7 minutes): Simplistic as its animation is, Green Lantern: The Animated Series looks pretty good in motion and has solid voicework to boot. It even has a slightIncredibles I’m intrigued.
- PS3Arkham City Character Skin Code: Suit up as Sinestro Corps Batman in the PS3 version of Arkham City.
- UltraViolet Digital Copy