REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN MOVIE GREEN LANTERN HAL JORDAN
I've always liked Green Lantern, and by that I mean Hal Jordan. Nothing really against John Stewart, Guy Gardner, or Kyle Rayner, but I always felt Green Lantern was at his best with the presence of Hal Jordan, out there in the cosmos with the Guardians of the Universe and the multi-planetary Green Lantern Corps.
Needless to say, I've been immensely enjoying Geoff Johns handling of the character and surrounding concepts when he brought Hal Jordan back in "Green Lantern: Rebirth", and then reinstated the Corps, and if all that wasn't enough, gave Sinestro his own Corps, and then came up with a whole bunch of other multi-colored Corps on top of that. These have been good times for a Green Lantern fan!
So, a live-action movie of Green Lantern is going to get my attention. It seems to me that DC has been a little hesitant about turning loose too many of their heroes on the big screen. We've seen plenty of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, but not a lot of others.
Marvel, on the other hand, seems to have no such issues. They've given us Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Punisher -- heck, they gave us Howard the Duck! Say what you will about the relative quality and/or success of some of these movies, it certainly wasn't a lack of willingness on the part of Marvel to bring these characters to the cinemas.
I respect DC. Heck, up until they announced that "Relaunch", I respected them more than Marvel. But it's about time somebody else broke through that "glass ceiling" of the movie theater, reached beyond the animated series and whatever unusual guest-stars made it onto "Smallville"over the years, and honestly, I'm glad it was Green Lantern!
Obviously, there's an action figure line to accompany the movies. This has been the summer of the super-hero -- and the transforming robots. The action figure section of the average store at the time of this writing seems to be divided between robots, red-white-and-blue, and green. Probably just as well that Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean don't have a really distinctive color scheme or it'd really look bizarre.
Mattel has the Green Lantern movie line, since they also have the DC license in general, and they have produced a series of 4" figures, a larger series of 6" figures, and other assorted merchandise, including masks, power rings, and the like. For this review, I'll be taking a look at the basic, 4" Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure, but first, I'd like to present a basic background of Hal Jordan from the comics, and of the Green Lantern movie itself.
Hal Jordan first appeared in Showcase #22, in October 1959, and was created by John Broome and Gil Kane, one of a number of "Silver Age" heroes that were developed using the same names as a number of "Golden Age" heroes, such as Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom, but were entirely different individuals with new stories.
Hal Jordan was a test pilot working for Ferris Aircraft. A critically wounded alien Green Lantern, Abin Sur, crash-landed on Earth, and ordered his ring to seek out a replacement. The ring found Hal Jordan, who became the new Green Lantern.
Jordan would soon discover that there was an entire intergalactic force comprised of Green Lanterns from thousands of worlds, each of whom wore a green power ring, and were guided by the Guardians of the Universe. Geoff Johns has since expanded upon this mythos, revealing the color green to be at the center of an emotional spectrum, representing willpower, which controls the power rings. Sinestro's yellow, for example, represents fear. The Star Sapphires' violet represents love, and the Red Lanterns represent hatred and rage.
In the 1990's, when a number of heroes were being retired or overhauled, Hal Jordan saw his hometown of Coast City destroyed by the forces of Mongul and the Cyborg Superman, in the wake of the Death of Superman. He strove to resurrect his city with his power ring, but was forbidden by the Guardians to use his power thusly. Seemingly driven mad with grief, he made his way to the homeworld of the Guardians and the Green Lanterns, the planet Oa, destroying the massive Power Battery of Oa and taking its power for himself, becoming a villain named Parallax.
One Guardian, named Ganthet, escaped with a sole remaining power ring, and bequeathed it to Kyle Rayner, who became the new Green Lantern. Jordan as Parallax turned up from time to time, and ultimately seemingly gave his life to restore the sun in the "Final Night" storyline. He later came forth to take on the power of the Spectre, but that ultimately didn't work out too well, so he was restored to his status as a Green Lantern, with it being revealed along the way that Parallax was in fact a "fear entity" that the Guardians had trapped in the power battery eons ago. This in effect set up the Sinestro Corps storyline that would follow later on.
Hal Jordan nevertheless remains the best known Green Lantern. Now let's turn our attention to the movie.
Be advised that this is your SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't yet seen the movie, and I highly recommend it, and you don't want to know, then skip down to the paragraph that starts with "So, how's the figure?"
The movie starts with a brief history of the Guardians of the Universe and their formation of the Green Lantern Corps, dividing the universe into 3600 distinct sectors, with a Green Lantern assigned to each sector. One such Green Lantern, Abin Sur of sector 2814, the same sector as Earth, defeated the fear entity Parallax and imprisoned it in the Lost Sector on the ruined planet of Ryut. However, in the present day, Parallax escapes his imprisonment. Several months later, after killing four Green Lanterns and destroying two planets, Parallax mortally wounds Abin Sur, who escapes his ship and crash lands on Earth, commanding his ring to find a worthy replacement.
Ferris Aircraft test pilot, who manages to be a hotshot and a screwup at the same time, is chosen by the ring and transported to the crash site, where Abin Sur appoints him to be a Green Lantern, telling him to take the ring and speak the oath. (A rather hysterical sequence follows where Jordan tries to figure out what "the oath" might be, using everything up to and including, "To Infinity and Beyond" and even, "By the Power of Grayskull!")
Jordan initially doesn't really know what's going on, until he is attacked outside of a bar, and in the process of taking a swing to defend himself against his attackers, the ring manifests a huge green fist that knocks them into next week. At this point, he is whisked off to the planet Oa, where he encounters and is trained by Tomar-Re and Kilowog. He also meets Sinestro, longtime friend of Abin Sur, who is very dismissive towards Jordan - a human - and as such a primitive compared to the other races present.
Meanwhile, on Earth, scientist Hector Hammond has been taken to a government facility to analyze the corpse of Abin Sur, which has been discovered by the government. A piece of Parallax's DNA hidden within Abin's corpse makes its way into Hammond, gradually transforming him into the telepathic, large-headed villain that is one of Green Lantern's arch-foes in the comic book. Hammond, resentful towards his father, a noted Congressman, attempts to kill him. The first time around, the senator is saved by Jordan. The second time, he isn't so lucky, and a fight ensues between Hammond and Jordan. However, both soon realize that Parallax is on its way to Earth.
Meanwhile, back on Oa, the Guardians tell Sinestro that Parallax was originally one of them, until he desired to control the yellow essence of fear, rather than the green essence of willpower. He ultimately became the essence of fear itself. Believing the only means to fight fear is with fear, Sinestro boldly requests for the Guardians to forge a yellow power ring, preparing to concede Earth in order to save Oa. However, Jordan arrives, telling Sinestro not to use the yellow ring, and asks that the Corps be sent to help him protect his planet. Jordan's request is denied, but Jordan decides to return and protect Earth alone, if he must.
Upon returning to Earth, Jordan saves Carol Ferris from Hammond, just as Parallax arrives. Parallax destroys Hammond for failing to kill Jordan, and then proceeds to wreak havoc on Coast City. Jordan ultimately hauls Parallax away from the Earth, and is able to use the sun's gravitational pull to disintegrate the entity. Jordan loses consciousness after the battle, but is saved by Kilowog, Tomar-Re, and Sinestro. The entire Corps congratulates him on his victory and bravery, and even Sinestro acknowledges that Jordan has truly become a Green Lantern, and reminds him more than a little of Abin Sur.
During the end credits, however, Sinestro is seen putting on the yellow ring, and his costume transforms into a version of his Sinestro Corps costume from the comics.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie. Critics have tended to be unkind, but I have to add to that that it does help to have some mild familiarity with Green Lantern before going into the movie. It helps you appreciate the characters more. The special effects are staggering. There's an excellent hard cover book out there called "Constructing Green Lantern" that I highly recommend. Ryan Reynolds comes off better as Hal Jordan than I expected he would. He can be a little over the top at times, reminiscent of Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies. Both characters could stand to be a little more serious in my opinion. Mark Strong is an amazing Sinestro. The visuals for characters such as Kilowog and Tomar-Re are respectful enough to their comic likenesses, while admittedly being redesigned for the sake of the movie. They didn't take them as far afield as, say, some of the cinematic Transformers from the live action movies. It wasn't anything I couldn't live with, certainly.
If I have any complaint about the movie, it would be that I wished we'd spent a bit more time with the alien Lanterns. But -- a sequel has already been announced, I think it's a fair bet what the story is likely to be about, so maybe that'll happen. And if we manage to get a trilogy out of this, I'd love to see the Red Lanterns turn up.
Overall, though, I was extremely impressed with the Green Lantern movie, and it definitely has my recommendation. It was well-done, the effects were staggering, and it was very respectful to the source material across the board.
So, how's the figure? Not that easy to find, for one thing. Now, there's no shortage of Hal Jordan variants in this Green Lantern line, interspersed with a large crop of alien Lanterns, some of whom don't really get all that much screen time. But as one might expect, there are several versions of Hal out there. There's one that's wearing a mostly dark suit with little sparkles molded into it. There's another one whose costume details are so bright green they might surpass that of a cell phone's screen. There's one that's just of Hal Jordan in civvies. But the one I wanted was Hal Jordan as Green Lantern as he appeared in the movie. No great surprise that this would be the tough one to find, any more than it's a surprise that this was figure "01" in the line.
In the movie, the Green Lantern uniforms are not comprised of fabric. Rather, they are generated by the power rings themselves. To that end, in the production of the movie, no actual Green Lantern costume was made. They were all computer generated, even those worn by human actors such as Reynolds, Strong, and Temuera Morrison, who played Abin Sur. Strong and Morrison were obviously made up as Sinestro and Abin Sur, from the neck up, but like Reynolds, they otherwise wore, again referencing the "Constructing Green Lantern" book, gray bodysuits with markings on them to help the CGI animators.
This may seem rather extravagant, until you see what the costumes look like. They have a heavily ridged look to them, that follows the musculature of the wearer. The Green Lantern emblem in the center of the chest actually glows, and additional lines of energy can be seen glowing on the costume, between the intricate ridges. The end result, I must say, is an extremely cool and effective, and certainly unusual, costume.
For the most part, the costume follows the design parameters of the comic book. Hal Jordan's costume is mostly green, with black arms below the shoulders, a bit of black on the sides, black legs, and green boots and gloves. One major difference is that the change in color between green and black is not as distinct as it is in the comic books. It's a bit more gradual. This was easy enough to accomplish on the action figure with airbrushing. About the only really distinct point between green and black is at the waist.
A further observation. In the comics, Green Lantern's gloves are white. In the movie, they're green. Once again, referencing the "Constructing Green Lantern" book, the original plan was to give Hal Jordan white gloves, but in the end, it was decided to make them green, and give the overall costume a greater color consistency. It's a minor alternation, certainly less than some super-heroes I've encountered on the screen, and I can readily live with it.
The figure does an excellent job replicating the intricate look of the costume, it really does. I'm impressed by the overall sculpting job. The headsculpt looks enough like Reynolds, as well, and he came across better as Hal Jordan than I expected him to.
For the most part, the paintwork is neatly done on the figure, especially on the costume. The mask and hair could have been a little more neatly painted, but it's not bad at all, really, and the Green Lantern emblem has been very well imprinted on the chest. The right hand has the power ring just where it should be, and it's been given a metallic green bit of paint.
Any complaints? Just one -- and it's the same one that most collectors have put forth about this line: Articulation. Sadly, these Green Lantern movie figures are not very well articulated, and the collecting community did not react well to it. Green Lantern is poseable at the head, arms, legs, and waist -- and that's it. The arms do move outward as well as back and forth, but even so, there is no elbow or knee articulation whatsoever.
On the one hand, I agree with the sentiment. Producing a 4" -- or any other scale -- of action figure these days, and leaving out the elbow and knee articulation, isn't going to win you many friends in the collecting world.
On the other hand, I can see how this could happen. For one thing, these 4" figures aren't intended for the collectors. That's what the larger, 6" line might well be for. These smaller figures are more intended for the kids, and if you wonder whether or not any kids would even be interested in Green Lantern, then I refer you to an event that happened two days before I went to the movie myself, when I was leaving the mall that the theater was in, and I saw two young boys with their mother. Both boys were wearing Green Lantern masks, and when I casually asked them if they liked the movie, one of the boys pointed his power ring at me while his mother answered that they really thought the movie was good. It's kids like that as much as anything that these figures are for.
Additionally, the detailing on these figures is very intricate. It has to be if it's going to match the design of the costumes in the movie, and at this scale, the sculpted ridges have to be a little exaggerated to show up properly. To have designed these figures with knee and elbow articulation would have, inevitably, diminished the look.
Now, would I have liked better articulation? Yes. Do I think they should have had more articulation? Yes, honestly I do. Am I going to raise as great a ruckus about it as a fair number of my fellow collectors? No -- because I can see why they might not have had greater articulation, and I also acknowledge who the real target audience of this line it.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for good articulation in action figures. But just as I have said in any number of DC Universe Classics reviews where a figure was saddled with the utterly pointless and useless double-jointed knees and elbows, when the articulation gets to the point of having a seriously adverse effect on the look of a figure, it's time to back off. While I really do consider it pretty inexcusable for these figures not to have elbow and knee articulation, that might well have been a factor involved, and in this case, I can live with it. It's not something I'd want to see on a Star Wars or G.I. Joe figure, but here -- I don't like it, but -- okay.
Fortunately, Hal Jordan is not at all pre-posed, and he looks cool enough that even on a limited basis, you can get some pretty cool poses out of him. The articulated waist helps.
Hal Jordan comes with two accessories. One is a huge, translucent green fist, a ring construct, made from a flexible plastic. It fits over his right hand, and admittedly, he's totally unable to stand up on his own while "using" it. I cheated in the photo accompanying this article, and laid him flat against my white backdrop instead of standing him up in front of it. It was the only way.
Let me make a quick movie note here -- Green Lantern would've been impossible without CGI -- and I don't just mean the aliens. The ring constructs just would not have come off if CGI effects hadn't reached the level that they have, and they were used to great effect in this movie. Everyone involved should be commended for their work.
Hal Jordan also comes with a "kid-sized" Green Lantern power ring, and I do mean "kid-sized". Despite a certain amount of flexibility, it's still a pretty sturdy piece of plastic, but if you're over the age of -- let's say 8 -- don't even try to put this on your finger. I couldn't even get it on my pinkie. Thus, I just set it on a shelf and let it look cool on display.
So, what's my final word? The movie is excellent. I definitely recommend it. The action figures are not bad at all. I might try to bring in one or two of the larger ones. I definitely plan to get a few more of the 4" ones, and you can look forward to reviews of any additional movie-based Green Lantern figures that I add to my collection whenever that takes place.
Green Lantern Hal Jordan is nicely sculpted, certainly well detailed, and well painted. He's an excellent likeness of the movie character. Really looks like he pretty much stepped off the screen. The limited articulation is a mild issue, but if you know what you're getting at the outset and can accept it, then he's definitely a cool figure, from a cool line, based on a very cool movie -- that's based on one of my favorite super-heroes.
The GREEN LANTERN MOVIE 4" figure of GREEN LANTERN HAL JORDAN definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation, in brightest day OR blackest night!