Title: Green Lantern
Director: Martin Campbell
Producer: Donald De Line and Greg Berlanti
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Release Date: June 17, 2011
Runtime: 105 Minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, and Angela Bassett
Synopsis (Product Description):
In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for millenniums. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors formed by the different races from entire universe sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected for the Corps: Hal Jordan.
Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.
Green Lantern is Warner Bros’ latest attempt to climb back on top of the superhero movie genre (with a character other than Batman). Their last non-Dark Knight attempt was Superman Returns, and that effort met with mixed results and mixed reviews. Now comes Green Lantern, guardian of sector 2814. Does he fair any better than the man of Steel? Yes, but not nearly so well as Batman or Watchmen. There are now enough big budget superhero movies that they can be placed in tiers. In the first tier, we have the best of the best: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Ironman, X-Men: First Class, Thor and Watchmen. In the second tier there are good movies that fall a little short of greatness, as well as critical acclaim: The Incredible Hulk (Ed Norton Reboot), Blade, Wolverine, and Superman Returns. Finally, we have failed efforts that are fundamentally poor movies: Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and The Fantastic Four. Green Lantern fits firmly into that second tier. It’s entertaining, but it will have neither the universal audience appeal of Batman Begins nor its critical acclaim.
Green Lantern brings to the silver screen one of the heavy hitters of the DC universe. Hal Jordan is part of a group of galactic peace keepers, each in charge of a sector of space the size of several galaxies. It’s a very big precinct with cosmic threats. When Jimmy Olsen needs help, he calls Superman. When Superman needs help, he calls Green Lantern. The movie’s introduction does a splendid job giving the background on the intricacies of the Green Lantern Corps. Notwithstanding the crash course in Green Lantern lore, much of it will be lost on those not at least a little familiar with Green Lantern comics. This is one of the potential downsides of the film. On the one hand, those with substantial familiarity with the source material will get the most from the film. On the other hand those people most familiar with Green Lantern are apt to be critical of the film makers concessions to the medium of film, e.g. there’s a lot of nerd rage surrounding Green Lantern’s costume.
Some fans of the comic have said Green Lantern takes on too much for a single film. It is not just the origin story of Hal Jordan, played very well by the criminally underrated Ryan Reynolds. It’s also about how he has to vanquish two bad guys, while struggling with his green lantern training. Trying to do so much short changes other aspects of Green Lantern’s origin, such as his complex relationship with Sinestro, played by the versatile Mark Strong, who is destined to become Hal’s greatest nemesis. The villains we get in this movie are poor substitutes. The first, Hector Hammond, while a well developed character, is about as much threat to a Green Lantern as a paper cut. C’mon, he doesn’t even rate a cool supervillain code name. Only Lex Luthor rolls that hard. The main villain, Parallax, is certainly a galactic threat, but incredibly underdeveloped. A superhero movie is generally only as good as its supervillain. Two subpar villains don’t make up for the lack of one great villain.
Now I didn’t think Green Lantern tried to do too much, and I didn’t have any trouble following the movie. But please bare in mind that my head is swimming with such useless facts as the various differences among red, blue, green and gold kryptonite, and how fast Superman would lose his powers under a red sun. For those of you who didn’t dedicate your childhood to the nerdcore equivalent of pondering how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, Green Lantern might seem a little convoluted.
But fear not, Green Lantern does do many things right. Ryan Reynolds is a great Hal Jordan, despite the rantings of innumerable Internet fanboys. Hal Jordan is a very Marvel-like superhero for DC–at least in his current incarnation. He’s deeply flawed. A hot headed womanizer who begins as the most irresponsible of squared jawed heroes. He is an arrogant fighter jock and he does not play well with others. Hal has a lot of potential and much of the film revolves around whether he will live up to that potential and overcome his fears and self doubt to become the hero he needs to be. Also, the movie looks fantastic. The CG aliens are in many cases as expressive as their human costars and I mean that to compliment the FX crew, not knock the actors.
In the end, Green Lantern is a fun movie. It is impossible to take it too seriously and I don’t think it’s possible to make a Green Lantern Begins along the lines of Batman Begins. Green Lantern is fundamentally about a guy with a magic ring that can do anything so long as its wearer believes strongly enough. There’s a worthwhile, and largely successful attempt to give Hal Jordan gravitas, but you won’t find the social themes of Marvel’s X-Men nor the epic struggle of Bruce Wayne to become more than a man. What you will find is an enjoyable romp, heavy on special FX. In short, a very watchable second tier superhero movie.
FTC Advisory: We purchased our own tickets.
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