Green Lantern: Beware My Power Review – Oh Dear, John
We may be long overdue for a John Stewart Green Lantern movie, but frankly this ain’t it, DC. Green Lantern: Beware My Power feels like the kind of comic that turns off a casual reader, relying on pre-existing lore knowledge to appreciate, and building to a truly unsurprising mystery element. What’s especially odd is that it’s as much a sequel to the animated Adam Strange short on the Apokolips War Blu-ray as it is a John Stewart movie. Not that this one doesn’t try to explain the Rann-Thanagar war and Zeta rays all over again, but it really helps to have seen that short you might not have known about until now.
What’s doubly weird is that in theory, that short existed in another continuity. Apokolips War rebooted the timeline, and DC animated moves from Superman: Man of Tomorrow onward exist in a new one. One where it’s not clear what has and hasn’t happened. The Justice League Watchtower satellite exists, but Hawkgirl Shayera Hol is a brand new character nobody’s heard of yet. John Stewart thinks meeting an alien with a magic green talking ring is bizarre, but it later turns out he’s heard of Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern. It’s like each film’s creative team picks and chooses, with no real consistency.
About an hour into the movie, Stewart utters the line, “We still have a long way to go.” Considering he ought to serve as the audience surrogate, that shouldn’t have been the first time to relate to him. Stewart (voiced by Black Adam‘s Hawkman, Aldis Hodge) begins Beware My Power as a regular guy, albeit a multiple medal of honor-winning, former Marine regular guy. But when a dying Guardian crashes in his backyard and gives him Hal Jordan’s actual power ring, which talks, Stewart plunges into the midst of an alien conflict.
Give him credit, or give it to the inconsistent writing — Stewart adapts to the mythos of the Rann-Thanagar war pretty quickly. Working alongside Adam Strange, Hawkgirl, and Green Arrow to figure out how it started, Stewart must then try to end it before the result leads to genocide. The plot involves a bit of a mystery villain element. But anyone who knows literally anything about Green Lantern should guess who it is.
In a bid to cram several disparate stories together, the movie unfortunately neglects any of the traits that make John more interesting than Hal. The way he builds his constructs from the inside, for example, or his ability to control different energies. He’s a cipher when he should be our surrogate. We want him to ask the right questions and be appropriately weirded out. Instead, Jimmi Simpson’s fast-talking take on Green Arrow gets that job. He also goes on about how Hal Jordan is his best friend, which we must take for granted since they have no history we’ve seen in this timeline.
To give due credit, whatever money and work the filmmakers didn’t put into the story clearly went into the animation. The deep space sequences are truly impressive. A battlefield full of floating corpses looks appropriately haunting, and a series of asteroid dodges looks epic. Even though animation can, in theory, show anything at any time, this plays like the equivalent of a big special effects film without much of script.
The dialogue also feels off, like it’s been mixed with inappropriate pauses. Some animated movies let the voice cast record in one room, but Beware My Power very obviously didn’t. There’s a scene near the end where Stewart awkwardly comforts another character, and it feels so disconnected that it comes off as ridiculous.
Audiences who may already consider themselves devotees of Rann and Thanagar may delight in seeing those planets onscreen in any form. The rest may simply wonder why a John Stewart movie doesn’t really seem to center on John Stewart in the end.
Green Lantern: Beware My Power debuts on Blu-ray and 4K Tuesday, July 26
Recommended Reading: Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1
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