Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Breakdown: Green Lantern (Part 1)

Welcome to our scene by scene breakdown of Green Lantern, the 2011 superhero flick starring Ryan Reynolds.  I promised this entry well over a year ago.  Sorry it took so long.  Originally, I wanted to do a video breakdown, Nostalgic Critic style.  Unfortunately, during editing (and, subsequently, pretty far into the project), I determined that it was not working.  I simply do not have the voice or talent to pull something off as clever or interesting.  I do want to add a video component to the Culture Cast someday, but it is not going to be today.

Anyway, Green Lantern — this movie is bad.  Whatever potential it had, it completely squanders it.  The truth of the matter is that it was not one big thing that destroyed the movie, but a lot of little, smaller things that just added up.  Today, I am hoping go through the movie, scene by scene to see what just did not work.

One thing before we begin.  If you liked this movie, great!  These are just my opinions.  I did not like it, and these are my reasons why.  I do not think less of anyone who likes this movie.  That is just arrogant, and I really try not to be.  Without further ado, here is Green Lantern.


We start with an opening narration given by Tomar-Rey (who is voiced by Geoffrey Rush).  This was my first warning sign of bad things to come.  I am always leery of movies that try to cram a lot of information in some sort of opening narration or scroll.

Look at movies like Super Mario Bros. or Judge Dredd.  I realize they are trying to get the viewer up to speed with the backstory, but it rarely works out.  Especially so since they are forcing the audience to swallow these insane and goofy concepts.  Green willpower?  Yellow fear?

It’s laughable at face value.   In a movie with space aliens, giant head creatures, and evil clouds, you need to ease your audience into these concepts.  In a high concept movie such as it, you need to first ground it, and then bring on the crazy.


Abstract images of strange looking people do not help.

Look at the Star Wars movies.  They did it right.  None of the opening crawls wasted time on the history of the Jedi or Republic.  It just told us what was going on in that particular moment.  The rest was filled in as the movie went on.

I guess I would not go on about this so much considering that an hour later (when this stuff actually matters), the movie repeats everything established here.  It is even said by the same character.

Anyway, we start out on “The Lost Planet” in the “Lost Sector”, even though people know where it is.  We see some hapless aliens release Parallax, our principle villain.  He then attacks Green Lantern Abin Sur.  Sur gets away, but not before being gravely injured.


Rumor has it that Parallax and Galactus from Fantastic Four were roommates in college.

We then cut and meet our hero, Hal Jordan.  And, since it is important to show him being an irresponsible douche, we get him trying to wrap a present while driving recklessly on his way to work (of which he is already late to).


Who will be able to forget the iconic gift wrapping scene? Cinema was forever changed.

Why is he wrapping the gift then?  We see later on he has plenty of time before the party when he is standing around at work doing nothing.  What went through his head when driving to work?  “Hey, I’m late to work.  I can’t think of a better time than now to wrap a present.”

The movie is trying too hard all at once to make him irresponsible.  You can show it bit by bit.  We the audience will get it.

So, Ferris Air is giving a demonstration about some new automatic planes they are trying to sell to the government.  Hal and love-interest Carol (played by Blake Lively) are facing off against new technology to prove the new tech’s worth — I think.


“Honestly, Hal, that mysterious Gossip Girl couldn’t make heads or tails out of what we’re suppose to be doing today.”

It is never made clear what the goals and motivations are from the different people involved.  Hal and Carol seem as if they need to show up the new unmanned planes.  The higher-ups at Ferris Air want the unmanned planes to win (so they can get the lucrative government contract).  And Tom, the guy who invented the new planes, seems happy when Hal wins against them.

Why does he get this excited over Hal winning?  Especially in front of the generals, who the company hopes will buy the planes.  That’s like Bill Gates being happy in front of investors that the next version of Windows fails.


“Awesome! The thing I worked tirelessly on has completely failed the test to impress the people my bosses hope to sell it to and save the company I work for!”

So, as I mentioned, Hal wins against the new planes after a crazy maneuver.  But, of course, he causes his plane to go out of control which, in turn, triggers the memory of his father’s death.  Why is this here?  It is totally shoehorned in.   Does he get flashbacks like this often?  Was it because he was in a dangerous situation?  If so, why is he allowed to fly?  You’d think that would come up during a psych test.  Well, Hal ejects and his plane crashes.


Nice job, Ace. Next time, don’t showboat.

We then cut to a scene where Hal gets chewed out, and I am left wondering why Hal couldn’t wait to wrap his nephew’s gift.  I mean, they are all just standing around doing nothing.


“Hmm…Good thing I wrapped that gift when I did!”

Tomorrow: Part 2!



7 responses to “Breakdown: Green Lantern (Part 1)

  1. JD January 8, 2013 at 9:04 am

    That is actually about as far as I got into Green Lantern before turning it off. I’m interested to see how your critical deconstruction of it turns out as this was an interesting start.

  2. CultureCast-Z January 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Yeah I’m pretty sure I’m gonna stay away from this movie forever.

  3. Pingback: Breakdown: Green Lantern (Part 2) « The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

  4. Pingback: Breakdown: Green Lantern (Part 3) « The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

  5. Pingback: Breakdown: Green Lantern (Part 4) « The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

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