Two of Hollywood’s hottest young stars had superhero movies this summer that just came out on video. (Well, three if you count “Thor,” but that was earlier on both counts.)
One is much better than the other, and I don’t think it’ll be any surprise to see which my opinion favors.
I’m a big DC Comics guy from way back, so I was rooting hardest for “Green Lantern,” but an uneven, dull script really tarnishes the Emerald Knight. I’ve never read the comic with any regularity, but I remember him fondly from “Super Friends,” and he’s had such a high profile lately.
But “Captain America” just fires on all cylinders and blows “Green Lantern” out of the water. (That wouldn’t happen in the comics, of course, but this is Hollywood.)
“Captain America: The First Avenger” is just plain fun. Chris Evans, who was a great rascal as Human Torch in the “Fantastic Four” movies, has grown enough as an actor that he can carry an action flick like this on his own through sheer charisma.
It helps that he has a dynamic script to work with that has some emotional oomph along with its action sequences. And the transformation from scrawny Steve Rogers to ripped Steve Rogers is an amazing bit of special effects work. I remember seeing the preview and thinking how poorly done scrawny Steve was, but it was cleaned up considerably by the time of release.
Hayley Atwell is great as love interest Peggy Carter, a real spitfire with lots of moxie. And his supporting cast of howling commandos is a hoot.
The whole thing is just a rip-roaring yarn that draws you in and keeps you riveted from beginning to end. It uses its period (WWII) perfectly and just perfectly mixes action, humor, drama and a little bit of camp.
“Green Lantern,” on the other hand, tries way too hard.
Ryan Reynolds is actually a great Green Lantern, I think, or would have been with a better script.
I think the main problem is that it goes for such a cosmic scale its first time out. Hal Jordan is lost in the mix of a whole corp of thousands of Green Lanterns. He’s a small speck in this cosmos, but it’s his movie.
It doesn’t help that Blake Lively is pretty flat as his love interest, Carol Ferris. She shows a bit of spark during a showdown sequence, but it’s too little too late.
And the main villain is a big cloud with a mean face. He’s Parallax, the embodiment of the yellow energy of fear, and the best they could do is a big cloud with a mean face. The movie is packed with CGI effects and backgrounds, many of which look more like videogame cutscenes than movie-grade special effects. I just didn’t buy it.
And with Parallax going after Hector Hammond going after a senator and Amanda Waller, the focus was just shattered, and it got kind of messy.
And I’m sorry, but that sinewy CGI suit looks too much like those creepy cadaver muscle exhibits at science museums, and I didn’t like it.
I think with a more focuses script that didn’t splinter Reynolds’ character so much, “Green Lantern” could have been the one to beat. He tried hard, but wasn’t given much.
The one who came out best was Mark Strong as Sinestro. Assuming a sequel gets made, maybe a well-thought-out fight between the two of them will make a more dynamic film.
P.S. The “Green Lantern” disc includes a preview of the upcoming CGI show on Cartoon Network. Again, I’m rooting for DC here, but I’ve got to say the animation looks worse than “Reboot,” which was almost a decade ago. I hope it’s well-written.