REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN MOVIE SINESTRO FIGURE
I should really start off by saying that I don't go to a lot of movies. But -- there are occasional, infrequent exceptions that will get me into a theater. Movies that I really don't want to wait for, or that I think deserve to be seen on the big screen. In the summer of 2011, that list grew to include GREEN LANTERN.
I've always liked Green Lantern, and by that I mean first and foremost Hal Jordan. Nothing really against anyone else who has put on the ring and donned the costume, but I have always believed that the Green Lantern comic was at its best with the presence of Hal Jordan, out there in the 3600 sectors of the universe, with the Guardians of the Universe and the star-spanning Green Lantern Corps.
Needless to say, I've been immensely enjoying Geoff Johns' take on the concepts when he brought Hal Jordan back in "Green Lantern: Rebirth", updated his origin, and then reinstated the Corps, and proceeded from there with some of the most amazing adventures ever seen for the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe. These have been good times for a Green Lantern fan!
So, a live-action movie of Green Lantern certainly got my attention. It seems to me that DC has been a little hesitant about turning loose too many of their heroes on the big screen. We've seen plenty of the Caped Crusader and the Last Son of Krypton, but not a lot of others.
I respect DC -- at least until they announced the so-called "Relaunch", which is being deservedly likened to being the comics world equivalent of "New Coke". But from a cinematic standpoint, it's about time somebody else broke through that "glass ceiling" of the movie environment, and honestly, I'm glad it was Green Lantern!
Obviously, there's an action figure line to accompany the movies. Mattel has the Green Lantern movie line, since they also have the DC license in general, and they have produced a series of 4" figures, a larger series of 6" figures, and other assorted merchandise, including masks, power rings, and the like. For this review, I'll be taking a look at the basic, 4" scale SINESTRO Green Lantern figure. First off, let's consider the background of the character, from a comics standpoint.
His full name is Thaal Sinestro, and he was created by John Broome and Gil Kane, first appearing in Green Lantern #7 in August of 1961. Although initially just a bad guy with a yellow power ring, which the Green Lantern power rings had a vulnerability to, Sinestro's backstory was gradually overhauled considerably to make him a former Green Lantern, at one time of their greatest, and these days, in the comics, he even has his own Corps of ring-wielders.
Sinestro was born on the planet Korugar in space sector 1417. His dedication to preserving order originally manifested in his previous career, an anthropologist specializing in reconstructions of ruins from long-dead civilizations. One day while he was on one such site, a Green Lantern named Prohl Gosgotha crash-landed into the site, injured and apparently dying. He quickly gave his ring to Sinestro, just in time for Sinestro, who barely even understood what the ring could do, to defend himself from the Lantern's pursuer, a Weaponer of Qward. However, Sinestro had to destroy the ruins he had spent loving care restoring in order to defeat the Qwardian.
His desire for order did well by him in the Corps, and initially led him to be considered one of the greatest Green Lanterns. As the years passed, he became more and more fixated upon not simply protecting his sector, but on preserving order in the society of his home planet no matter the cost. Eventually he concluded that the best way to accomplish this was to conquer Korugar and rule the planet himself.
When Hal Jordan joined the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro was assigned to be his instructor. Jordan was horrified at his new mentor's totalitarian methods, though Sinestro maintained that his iron-fisted rule was necessary to protect his people. During his training, Jordan helped Sinestro repel an attempted invasion of Korugar from the alien warlords known as the Khund. When Jordan called for help from the other Green Lanterns, Sinestro's dictatorship was exposed and he was forced to appear before the Guardians for punishment.
For using the power of the Green Lantern to instill fear rather than combat it, the Guardians banished Sinestro to the antimatter universe. There, Sinestro ended up on the antimatter world of Qward, which was ruled by a race of warriors and scientists known as the Weaponers of Qward, who bore a fierce hatred of the Guardians and all Green Lanterns. By exiling Sinestro to a world ruled by beings who specifically hated him as a Green Lantern, the Guardians hoped to humble him.
This would prove to be a major miscalculation. Sinestro believed himself to have been wronged by his former masters and now hated them just as much as the Weaponers. He would become allies with them, and they would create a yellow power ring for his use, sending him back to the "positive" universe to seek his revenge. Sinestro quickly became the Green Lantern Corps' most powerful nemesis, partially due to a weakness in their power rings that prevented them from directly affecting the color yellow.
Years later, before the Guardians took a leave of absence from the universe, they constructed an inescapable prison for Sinestro and thousands of others on Oa. However, Sinestro was able to free himself, and went on a rampage through entire star systems. He was finally subdued by the Green Lantern Corps of Earth, and was put on trial once again by the assembled membership of the Green Lantern Corps. Finding him guilty, they condemned him to death, but Sinestro managed to cheat even this by sending his essence into the Central Power Battery, where he discovered that the "yellow impurity" was actually a sentient entity known as Parallax, the living embodiment of fear. He also discovered the Power Battery's source was Parallax's green counterpart, Ion, the embodiment of willpower. Thanks to Sinestro's actions, Parallax was later able to successfully infect Hal Jordan's mind.
Later, when Hal Jordan's hometown of Coast City was destroyed by Mongul and the Cyborg Superman, Hal Jordan was driven mad with grief, giving Parallax the opportunity he needed to possess him. As a last-ditch effort to halt Hal Jordan's rampage, the Guardians freed Sinestro from the Central Power Battery. Jordan seemingly killed Sinestro, but it would later be determined that this was only a hard-light construct manipulated by Sinestro, who was still within the Battery.
Sinestro eventually returned when Kyle Rayner discovered the existence of the Parallax entity and revealed it to Green Arrow and the Justice League. Nearly killing the two heroes, Sinestro was stopped by the newly-returned Hal Jordan, who had seemingly given his life years earlier during the "Final Night" storyline and has since taken on the power of The Spectre. The two fought to a draw, with Sinestro escaping into the antimatter universe during the fight.
Sinestro turned up during the "Villains United" storyline, preceding the Infinite Crisis, but really once again came into his own some time after. With the Green Lantern Corps fully reformed, Sinestro decides to form his own corps, calling it the Sinestro Corps, handing out yellow power rings to the most feared, savage, and psychotic warriors in the universe. This led into the Sinestro Corps War, one of a number of epic-level stories told throughout the Green Lantern titles that have revealed the existence of an entire spectrum of color-based emotions and related power rings and corps.
Sinestro has since played a major role in Blackest Night and Brightest Day, briefly wielding the power of the White Lantern ring. He has worked alongside Hal Jordan -- reluctantly for both individuals -- but he and his Corps remain a threat to the universe at large.
In the new movie, Sinestro is played by actor Mark Strong, to great effect. Although the costumes in the movie were computer generated, Strong did have his head made up to match Sinestro's reddish complexion, complete with pointed ears.
Other than Hal Jordan, Sinestro is the most prominent of the Lanterns. He doesn't think much of Hal Jordan, or for that matter much of Earth, regarding it as a hopelessly primitive world, and he resents the fact that someone like Jordan has replaced Abin Sur, whom Sinestro considered a friend.
At this point in time, Sinestro is still a member in good standing of the Green Lantern Corps, and is clearly regarded as one of the leading Lanterns. He readily approaches the Guardians of the Universe to discuss the threat of Parallax with them, and makes speeches to rally the assembled forces of the Green Lantern Corps to combat this threat.
When that doesn't succeed, and Sinestro learns the origin of Parallax, he demands that the Guardians create a yellow power ring that channels the power of fear, just like Parallax, in a sort of "fight fire with fire" concept. Jordan stops Sinestro from actually using the ring, and goes to Earth alone to fight Parallax, which is headed to Jordan's homeworld.
In the end, Jordan defeats Parallax, by sending him into Earth's sun, and is himself rescued from a similar fate by Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re. Sinestro finally compliments Hal Jordan, saying that Abin Sur chose well in his successor.
However -- SPOILER WARNING HERE! -- not too far into the end credits, we see Sinestro, on his own, finally don the yellow power ring, and his costume gradually converts into a version of the yellow-and-black costume that Sinestro in the comics has become known for since starting up his own Corps. Sequel, anyone? I wouldn't mind.
Sinestro, in the movie, is portrayed as a loyal Green Lantern, although not above challenging the Guardians if he sincerely believes they're wrong or acting improperly about something. He is certainly strong-willed and rather opinionated -- at least about humans. He has a fencing match with Hal Jordan during Jordan's training that is one of the more remarkable uses of power ring constructs during the entire movie, and as much as anything shows why this film would have been impossible without modern CGI technology. Probably the best description for Sinestro in the film is that of a gung-ho, no-nonsense soldier who has, through his experience, earned a position of respect and leadership among his peers -- and knows it. He does not come across as evil until the brief scene during the end credits, and even then, just seems to be considering the potential of the power of yellow. Mark Strong should be commended for a superb job bringing the character of Sinestro to life in this movie.
So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. At first I thought the figure had a molding problem. There were these indentations down one side of the face. But as I checked other Sinestro figures in the display, I realized they all had the same strange slender indentations. That, as a random molding problem, was just plain impossible.
In the movie, it appears Sinestro has a small scar over one eye, partially bisecting one eyebrow. Apparently the scar was intended to be somewhat more extensive than that, as in a comic book tie-in to the movie, Sinestro is illustrated (very nicely by Jerry Ordway) as having a more extensive linear scar down one side of his face. Obviously the figure showcases this more than the actor in the movie, just because of scale, if nothing else.
Allow me a brief aside to recommend a series of five "one-shot" comic books that have been produced by DC Comics in conjunction with the movie. Each one focuses to one degree or another on one of five major Lanterns in the movie -- Hal Jordan, Abin Sur, Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re. The Hal Jordan one takes place during the movie, but is mostly an analysis between Sinestro and Tomar-Re as to whether or not Jordan -- or any human -- is cut out to be a Lantern. There's even a one-panel cameo by Guy Gardner!
The books do not follow the storyline of the movie, but present related stories starring the characters, and use the movie likenesses of the comic book characters, in a sort of role reversal or a bit of "what goes around, comes around". In any case, if you enjoyed the movie, track down the comics.
Since Sinestro is played by a human actor, rather than being a CGI construct voiced by a human actor, and since in the comics, Sinestro is relatively human in appearance, skin color and ears notwithstanding, his design doesn't go as far afield from his comic inspiration as some of the other alien Lanterns in the movie. As such, the Sinestro figure looks pretty much like Sinestro -- the pinkish-red skin, the short-cropped black hair, pointed in the front, and the pointed ears. Now, it would've been possible to take Sinestro's design a little further, I'm sure. Certainly they did with Abin Sur, who was also played by a human actor (Temuera Morrison), but I suspect someone wisely decided to leave Sinestro's basic design pretty much alone, since he would have to interact with Jordan more extensively, and one would assume his role will be expanded in the sequel.
Sinestro's costume is interesting. Most of the Green Lantern costumes in the movie, to one degree or another, seem to follow the basic musculature pattern of their wearer, with ridged lines throughout that tend to have a random green glow about them. The color shift between the green portions of the costumes and the black, rather than being distinct as in the comics, tends to be more gradual in appearance, as well.
Sinestro's costume goes against both of those tendencies. Although some portions of his costume reflect the "ridged musculature" look of most Green Lantern costumes, other parts look more like thin armor plating, especially on the torso. The ridged areas that do exist tend to look -- well, dare I say it -- more orderly, certainly a mindset Sinestro is known for. This is especially evident on the back and upper legs of the figure's costume.
And there is no gradual shift between green and black -- or rather, very dark green -- on Sinestro's costume. The division between colors is very crisp and readily apparent. Most of Sinestro's torso and arms are green. There is a somewhat diagonal area of dark green on his sides, and most of his back is dark green. His hands are dark green, as is a small area about midway up the arm. His legs are almost entirely dark green.
If one considers Sinestro's costume in the comic book, the jagged sort of "starburst" pattern, while it isn't all THAT evident here on the movie Sinestro's Green Lantern costume, the crisp and somewhat diagonal lines almost give a certain hint of it nevertheless. In any case, assuming that maintaining the costume is a reflection of the ring's power and the willpower of its wearer, one can quickly draw the conclusion that Sinestro is a man with a great deal of willpower, that he channels into a very precise sort of control. Which is a pretty good description of the character, really.
The figure is nicely made, very well detailed, and neatly painted. Sinestro's pinkish-red head is certainly a standout against the green uniform. Heck, throw in the mostly green packaging, and believe me, you'll be readily able to see Sinestro in any store display of these figures. Small details such as the eyes and eyebrows are very well done, right down to tiny black pupils in the eyes, and the Green Lantern emblem is readily apparent on the chest.
I'll admit I sort of wonder if we'll see a Sinestro Corps uniform version of Sinestro before this line has run its course, but that would be giving away quite the detail from the end credits, and they may just be saving that for the next movie.
Any complaints? Just one, sort of -- and it's the same one that most collectors have made about this line, and that would be -- articulation. Sadly, these Green Lantern movie figures are not very well articulated, and the collecting community has not reacted well to it, although I have been told that regardless, the figures have generally sold well. Sinestro is poseable at the head, arms, legs, and waist -- and that's it. The arms do move outward as well as back and forth, but even so, there is no elbow or knee articulation whatsoever.
On the one hand, I agree with the criticism. Producing a 4" -- or almost any other scale -- of action figure these days, and not giving them elbow and knee articulation, isn't going to win you many fans, especially in the collecting world.
On the other hand, I can see how this could happen. For one thing, these figures aren't really intended for the collectors. These smaller figures are more intended for the kids, or for the casual buyer who has seen the movie and wants a figure or two of it just for the fun of it.
Additionally, the detailing on these figures is very intricate. It has to be if it's going to match the design of the costumes in the movie, and at this scale, the sculpted ridges have to be a little exaggerated to show up properly. To have designed these figures with knee and elbow articulation would have, inevitably, diminished the look.
And I can see an additional point, as well. Although only five Lanterns -- Jordan, Sinestro, Kilowog, Tomar-Re, and Abin Sur -- are prominently featured in the movie, the toy line is coming out with quite the supply of Lanterns. And unlike a lot of toy lines these days, there's no real way to use any common molds between them, and there's a few for which it would be difficult to give them really extensive articulation. It would appear to me that Mattel has chosen population variety over articulation in this instance.
Now, would I have liked more articulation? Yes. Do I think they should have had more articulation? Maybe, although I'm starting to see why they might not have. Am I going to raise a fit over it? No -- because I can see why they might not have had greater articulation.
Fortunately, Sinestro is not at all pre-posed, and he looks cool enough that even on a limited basis, you can get some pretty cool poses out of him. The articulated waist helps.
Sinestro comes with three accessories. Two of them are a air of swords, transparent green ring constructs, and certainly an effective way to duplicate his duel with Jordan during Hal's training. Of course, you'll need a Hal Jordan figure for this as well.
Sinestro also comes with a "kid-sized" Green Lantern power ring, and I do mean "kid-sized". Despite a certain amount of flexibility, it's still a pretty sturdy piece of plastic, but if you're not a fairly small child -- don't even try to put this on your finger. Just set it on a shelf and let it look cool on display.
So, what's my final word? The movie is excellent. I definitely recommend it. The action figures are not bad at all. I might try to bring in one or two of the larger ones. I definitely plan to get a couple more of the 4" ones, and you can look forward to reviews of any additional movie-based Green Lantern figures that I add to my collection whenever that takes place.
Sinestro is nicely sculpted, veryl detailed, and well painted. He's an excellent likeness of the movie character, which is extremely close to the comics character. The limited articulation is a mild issue, but if you know what you're getting at the outset and can accept it, then he's definitely a cool figure, from a cool line, based on a very cool movie -- that's based on one of my favorite super-heroes.
The GREEN LANTERN MOVIE 4" scale figure of SINESTRO definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!