REEL IN REVIEW #01—INTRODUCTION, PLUS MY REVIEW OF GREEN LANTERN: BEWARE MY POWER.
Greetings and bienvenue, all.
Welcome to the first installment in a new project that I’ve decided to collectively dub Reel in Review. These segments are going to serve as my personal reviews of movies that I have watched, in the same way that my currently running About a Book segments include my book reviews.
Those of you who’ve followed my blog since the start won’t be surprised by this new project. I made clear in my inaugural post that this blog will cover a rather wide topic range. For those of you who are new to this blog, my name is Fred Tippett; and I’m an author of Young Adult and Adult fiction novels. My recently released YA Mystery novels, The Women in White and The Lethal List, are well-reviewed titles available on Amazon.
While I’m introducing this subset of my main blog, I might as well make clear that the movies I cover in these Reel in Review segments won’t necessarily be of any one type. I watch and enjoy movies of all sorts, and Reel in Review will accordingly comprise a melting pot of reviews for movies of all shapes and sizes. The uniting factor is that they’ll all be movies that I’ve seen and want to discuss or review or just criticize for whatever reason.
I won’t necessarily be reviewing the newest films or the most anticipated or the highest performing. Some of the titles that I review may be months to years old, while some will be newer. Some will be commercially popular, while some will be more obscure.
My reviews will contain mild to medium spoilers. Each will also consist of a brief summary of the movie, my review, and my brass-tacks rating ranging from one to five cronuts—a dessert which I love, despite having never had the pleasure to enjoy one. 😋😋😋
As with the installments of my general blog and my About a Book segments, I’m not planning any specific timetable for my Reel in Review entries. So they won’t be dropping on any preplanned schedule. I will, however, update my Twitter and Instagram accounts each time I drop a new review, so my followers there will know. I’ll also be updating as many as have subscribed to my mailing list by email.
Which brings me to today’s final pre-movie-review point. IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND HAVEN’T ALREADY, YOU’D BETTER SUBSCRIBE TO MY MAILING LIST RIGHT FRIGGIN’ NOW! I’ll even make it easy for you: just click HERE to get started. And I’ll sweeten the deal too. When you subscribe, you’ll get a FREE copy of my debut Young Adult Mystery novel, The Women in White.
With that in mind and without further ado, as follows is my inaugural Reel in Review entry. It is a review of the DC Universe Animated Movie Green Lantern: Beware My Power.
Director: Jeff Wamester
Writers: John Semper and Ernie Altbacker
Actors: Aldis Hodge, Jimmi Simpson, Ike Amadi, Brian Bloom, and Jamie Gray Hyder
Runtime: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Release Date: 26 July 2022 (USA)
Genres: Animation, Action, and Science Fiction
*BE WARNED: MILD TO MEDIUM SPOILERS FOLLOW*
• SUMMARY •
In Green Lantern: Beware My Power, recently discharged Marine sniper John Stewart is at a crossroads in his life, one which is only complicated by receiving an extraterrestrial ring which grants him the powers of a Green Lantern. The ring doesn’t come with instructions, but it does come with baggage—like a horde of interplanetary killers bent on eliminating every Green Lantern in the universe. Now, with the aid of the light-hearted Green Arrow, Adam Strange, and Hawkgirl, this reluctant soldier must journey into the heart of a galactic war between Rann and Thanagar and somehow succeed where all other Green Lanterns have failed.
• MY REVIEW •
I was filled with hope when this movie was announced at DC Fandome in October 2021. Green Lantern is one of my favorite superheroes, I personally think that the character has yet to get his full due in either animation or live-action, and I wanted this movie to be the one to change that.
I lost some of my hope when the first trailer dropped this past May. The premise and animation style made me realize that the film was going to be a John Stewart origin story set within “The Tomorrowverse,” an unofficially named shared universe of animated movies that began with 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow. The so-called Tomorrowverse is relatively nascent and only consists of four titles besides this movie—Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Justice Society: World War II, and the two-part Batman: The Long Halloween. (A 27-minute short called Constantine: The House of Mystery is debatably set within this continuity, and an older short called DC Showcase: Adam Strange may also be tangentially related.) I’ve watched most of those movies, which is how I realized fast that the May trailer was teasing a John Stewart origin movie featuring a very complex plot and a huge amount of Justice League backstory that has never been established within the Tomorrowverse. And if there are two things that I can’t abide in cinema, they are overly complex origin films and the shoehorning in of unsupported or self-contradictory backstory.
Nevertheless, I stayed cautiously optimistic that this movie would surprise me with an emotionally satisfying and gripping origin tale for the John Stewart Green Lantern. (After all, one of the writers was John Semper, who formerly captained Spider-Man: The Animated Series, one of the defining treatises on superhero television.) Unfortunately, what I got instead was a shallow, predictable, and one-dimensional disaster of a film whose only positives are the stellar voice acting and the breathtaking animation.
The first ten minutes or so are wonderful, doing a great job of showing John’s background as a decorated ex-marine who now faces severe PTSD and systemic racism in the country that he defended. However, once John gets the Green Lantern ring, the story takes a nosedive. And what could and should have been a simple, uplifting story about a tortured black war hero’s evolution into a more confident hero of the super variety evolves into an overblown mess.
First and foremost, John’s origin tale as presented here is a cut-rate imitation of Kyle Rayner’s origin tale. That only serves to cheapen John’s story and make it less memorable.
Then comes John’s introduction to the Justice League—which begins with an eyeroll inducing fight between him and other Leaguers because of a misunderstanding about how his ring brought him to the League’s space-based Watchtower. This leads into a massive exposition dump about how Hal Jordan (who has apparently already been a part of the League for years and is known as the universe’s greatest Green Lantern) and the entire Green Lantern Corps are dead due to storytelling mechanics involving Sinestro, the Sinestro Corps, and an interplanetary war between Rann and Thanagar.
1. Like I said earlier, the Tomorrowverse is still nascent. The Justice League in any form was only lightly teased in a post-credits scene at the end of Batman: The Long Halloween’s Part 2. So seeing the League in this movie as fully operational with a space-based Watchtower and members who are best friends despite having never been introduced as a team onscreen really threw me for a loop.
2. Hal Jordan hasn’t even yet been introduced as a Lantern in the Tomorrowverse. So getting a backstory dump regarding his history of friendship with Green Arrow and the League, his enmity with Sinestro, and his intergalactic reputation also really took me out of the story. I just kept wondering if I’d overlooked some secret cache of Tomorrowverse movies or comics that bridged the gap between this movie and Long Halloween, Part 2.
3. The Green Lanterns haven’t even been seriously floated as a collective concept in the Tomorrowverse before this movie. So I found the decision to kill the whole Corps offscreen to be a cheap, frustrating, and disappointing cop-out.
John Stewart’s origin story here is, of course, a knock-off of Kyle Rayner’s. So it should come as no surprise that this movie tells a knock-off version of the “corrupted Hal Jordan” storyline. In fact, this movie’s major but predictable twist reveals that Hal Jordan is not only still alive but also being possessed by Parallax, secretly leading the Sinestro Corps, and planning to destroy the universe and remake it in his image. Hal is defeated in the end by Stewart (of course) and killed by Green Arrow in a moment that’s supposed to be moving but which doesn’t land due to no real prior onscreen buildup of the friendship between Hal and Arrow.
Sinestro, Parallax, and the Sinestro Corps were criminally underutilized here. For some reason, the Corps itself was comprised of Despero and other heavy hitters who were basically reduced to silly goons and target practice for the heroes to kill off at plot-convenient times. Sinestro, despite his rich comics history of strong stories ripe for adaptation, was neutered and turned into a standard mustache-twirling bad guy with a derivative domination plan. Parallax, despite his similarly rich history, was treated as little more than a plot device to catalyze Hal’s dark turn so that he could be the final boss battle.
The Rann/Thanagar conflict was an unnecessary plot thread that could’ve been put to bed with one five-minute conversation in which both sides compared notes and realized that they were being played against each other. The cynic in me wonders if this plotline was used as an excuse for including Hawkgirl and teasing a relationship between her and Stewart like unto the iconic one from the Justice League cartoons of the 2000s.
Green Lantern’s powers, in my opinion, have never been presented properly in film; and despite a few good tries, this movie doesn’t change that. The action sequences were mediocre at best—which was quite disappointing, given that Green Lantern has some of the most cinematically versatile and adaptable powers in DC Comics history. I truly am starting to believe that there might never be a Green Lantern movie that presents his vast abilities to adequate iconic effect.
It’s clear that the writers and director for this movie are not very familiar with Green Lantern lore and probably aren’t major fans of the character in any iteration. So, in the end, Green Lantern: Beware My Power is a massively disappointing cookie-cutter superhero movie that neither moves the needle nor fairly services its characters.
• MY RATING •
I give Green Lantern: Beware My Power an underwhelming one and a half cronuts out of five.