Sunday, October 16, 2011
The Emerald Knight Goes Blu (Ray)
As if being a box office disappointment and a critical flop weren't bad enough -- it's strange labeling a $200 million worldwide take a flop or a disappointment, and yet it was both -- Green Lantern left film fans and comic fans cold. And, for once, a comicbook adaptation alienated moviegoers of all stripes for the same reasons, regardless of how familiar they were with DC Comics' space-faring saga. Where to begin?
Director Martin Campbell's interstellar superhero actioner is too slow, too uneventful, too melodramatic, too anticlimactic, and offers too little too late. More? Its casting is riddled with odd choices and poor picks, its superpower showcases and superpowered showdowns are dull and CG-driven, its attachment to Earth infuriating, its performances clunky and inconsistent, its tone too disjointed, its hero too shallow, its fourth tier human villains too cheesy, its planet-chomping alien menace too cartoonish, and its true Big Bad relegated to the bench until an end-credits sequence calls him in for a sequel that might not ever come to fruition. Long story short...
Green Lantern has high aspirations but never quite gets off the ground. I expected a lot of CG, I mean how else could it have been done, but this is just bad. Initially I enjoyed it when I saw it on the big screen, but a few months later and a review on DVD really soured my views on this one.
Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer doesn't exactly swoop in to save the day. Contrast is rather oppressive and black levels are heavy, unforgiving and, every now and then, abusive, stamping out shadow detail with abandon. It's as if someone cranked up the "in blackest night" dial but forgot to flip the "in brightest day" switch. (On a positive note, the more brutal blacks cover up some of the seams that haunt the film's CG elements, chief among them Hal's suit.) Even when the sun rises, the image lacks a bit of the brightness, crispness and clarity that should rise with it. When the sun sets, matters get infinitely worse. Crush is an issue, as is middling delineation and some muddled fine textures. Videophiles won't be easily satisfied and even those who are will probably be those who mistake the overzealous shadows that press in as thematic when they are, at least in part, indicative of something more troubling: the possibility of an over-tweaked encode. Granted, much of the deteriorating detail traces back to the source. I noticed the presence of noise reduction while watching the film in the theater and most, if not all, of the (reasonably) minor DNR that's visible here comes courtesy of Campbell and company, not Warner. Still, an eyesore is an eyesore. Closeups of Ryan Reynold's face (the refined shots at 41:09, 1:14:47 and 1:44:30 being a few of the exceptions) shouldn't look as flat, indistinct or muddy as they sometimes do.
Which brings us to the next problem. While superpowered greens and yellows light up the screen with welcome vibrancy, Dion Beebe's palette -- or perhaps Warner's approximation of it -- looks as if it belongs in a film featuring the Dark Knight, not the Emerald Knight. While typically attractive, fleshtones don't always boast natural hues, many a primary sinks into the abyss, and shadows occasionally descend without mercy, eclipsing both the practical sets and CG environments. (Hal's confrontations with Parallax are particularly dreary and dubious. Look no further than the murky mess that is their battle at the 1:42:00 to 1:44:00 mark. Even explosions and spewing fire struggle to push back the prevailing darkness.) Thankfully, there are saving graces. Significant artifacting, banding, aliasing and ringing are nowhere to be found, detail isn't always consumed by darkness, and a variety of scenes, though still relatively dark, look quite good. Some soupy noise tries to disguise itself as filmic grain and fails, but it isn't a major distraction. All things considered, Green Lantern offers a passable, now-and-again impressive presentation, but it also stands as one of the more underwhelming superhero-adventure transfers to come along in some time. I already knew I didn't enjoy the film itself, but I thought the resulting Blu-ray release would, at the very least, blow me away. Instead, it just sort of limps along. Green Lantern was a bit brighter, a bit more colorful and, if memory serves me, a bit more detailed in theaters, but four months is a long time when it comes to memories, so take that with a grain of salt. Even so, I would recommend adjusting your expectations. The video presentation isn't as brave, brilliant or bold as you might assume. I honestly had a tough time deciding between a 3.0 and a 3.5. Fair warning: you may feel it holds steady at a 3.0 or, if you're particularly sensitive to specific issues, descends into 2.5 territory.
Ah, this is more like it. While Green Lantern's visuals are trapped in a maddening free fall, Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track kicks on the afterburner and roars overhead. Dialogue is clean, well-grounded and intelligible throughout (minus a few lines dwarfed by mid-battle chaos) and sound effects, be they down-to-Earth or powered-by-will, remain crystal clear from start to finish. Explosions, minigun fire, Kilowog punches, jet engines, toppling buildings and burning stars take full advantage of the LFE channel, and dynamics lend power and presence to an already engrossing soundscape. The rear speakers are responsible for plenty of sonic flash and flair as well. Alien warriors rocket past, energy blasts streak across space, Parallax billows and fills the soundfield, and every intergalactic hotspot and Earthbound locale is nice and immersive. (Even though Lantern's distant planets seem to be slightly more enveloping than our own. I suppose Campbell has more to play with when he's off-world, brief as those opportunities may be.) If the film's transfer came to life with the same vividness and tenacity as Warner's mix, this would be an entirely different review.
parts of this review are taken from bluray.com.