How Not to Make a Movie: ‘Green Lantern’


I was going to write a review for Green Lantern, but it would’ve comprised of the word ‘shithouse’ repeated over and over, so instead let’s take an educated look at the film-making process and where they went wrong.

When a team of people sit down to make a movie they have a process to follow. If just one of these steps is done wrong it can be detrimental to the final product. It doesn’t mean that the whole movie will suck – just that it’s not going to be perfect. Now if you fuck up every part of development in a movie, like they did with Green Lantern’, you’re not going to have anything to show for it at the end but a pile of crap.

So strap yourselves in for some education as we examine the eight steps towards making a movie, and how they went wrong.

#1 Have An Idea

The idea for this movie seems straight forward: make a movie out of Green Lantern. How did this go wrong? Because they tried to make a movie about all of Green Lantern. They didn’t have an idea for an actual story, such as Batman Begins, which focused specifically on the journey Bruce Wayne took to becoming Batman, or Superman Returns, in which they looked at Superman finding the world different to the one he left. The idea they had for Green Lantern was simply two worlds: ‘Green Lantern’. This isn’t an idea as much as it is a marketing pitch.

#2 Write a Story

Writing an original tale is a challenge indeed…that is why most genre film writers stick to a formula, especially for something like a Superhero flick. Yet even with a well established formula they tried to branch out and do something different. Admirable, ambitious, yes…but not without a solid game plan. Something they don’t have. Instead we get a dot-point definition of Green Lantern mythology with little in the way of a narrative arc. The villain is introduced late in the second act, the main character has no motivation outside of ‘daddy issues’ and nothing ties neatly together.

I'm a totally serious bad guy.

#3 Find the Right People For the Job

Alright, I’ll throw them a bone. Ryan Reynolds in a fine pick for the lead role. He’s the right level of cocky and charming and he does add a bit of enjoyment to proceedings. Everyone else, however, is hired for the wrong reasons. Martin Campbell has, as a director, successfully brought the Bond franchise back from the dead twice by adding some real-world drama to liven up the action. He hardly seems like the right choice for the colourful adventures of a green flying man and his bug-eyed alien friends. The rest of the cast are all just wrong for the parts they were given. Just because you can afford Tim Robbins it doesn’t mean you have to give him a part.

#4 Find Out What Audiences Want

Audiences are a fickle bunch. What they love can become something they hate in the space of a few months – look at 3D, for example. Constantly pandering to audience needs isn’t going to drive the industry forward, but this isn’t that type of movie. This is a Hollywood blockbuster – they need to deliver what the audience wants. Computer special effects are expected in this kind of film, but somehow the makers of this movie didn’t get the memo about CGI no longer being used as a draw card. Likewise, the average viewer doesn’t want a totally ‘accurate’ adaptation of the comic – that’s only the vocal nutcases of the internet.

#5 Art Design

Every part of the movie needs to be designed, from the clothing the actors wear to the alien landscapes. This process takes a while and goes through many drafts, so there’s no reason for you to end up with Lantern that looks like a bong or a superhero costume that looks like a glow-in-the-dark condom.

Quack quack quack quack. Quack.

Or this guy.

#6 Keep an Eye on the Overall Picture During Production

You want your movie to be consistent in tone. If your movie is about a superhero fighter jet pilot, don’t make him fly into space to talk to technicolour aliens only to return to Earth to have it out with muggers. It makes everything look silly. Don’t get distracted making the effects the centerpiece, instead spend some time with the actors, because that’s what’s going to matter by the end of the movie going experience.

#7 Editing

When piecing your movie together, be ruthless. Cut out every single thing that doesn’t contribute directly to the story or the experience. Just because you’ve spent the time filming a long, boring sequence where the hero learns to use his powers it doesn’t mean it’s going to be interesting, so drop it. Characters who serve no purpose, such as a mate of the main character who makes a big fuss about working out who the hero really is only to disappear from the movie entirely, can also be left on the cutting room floor. Get your movie down to concise, well paced film.

"I know, right?"

#8 Wrap it Up

A huge nuisance for film-goers right now is the studios belief that every movie is a potential franchise. You can forget about a stand alone story that neatly and satisfyingly ties everything together at the end – everything needs to be left open for the sequel/s. So we have the introduction of a character called Sinestro, who looks like something from a 70’s era Star Trek porn spoof, who pops up every now and then to talk about yellow rings. This doesn’t go anywhere. Then, after the credits, there’s an additional scene of Sinistro getting a yellow ring and turning evil. For the sequel. None of this has any relevance to the film you’re already watching, but a movie that isn’t written or even green-lit yet. It’s pointless, it’s confusing and it’s annoying.

Overall the Green Lantern movie is dull, confusing and pointless waste of cinema. But let’s take a lesson from it – look at it is a guide to how movie shouldn’t be made.

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