My friends, don’t be fooled. Green Lantern is not as bad as these ‘movie critics’ are saying. It’s by no means on the level of X-Men: First Class, or Spiderman 2, or even Thor, but it’s still mildly and intermittently entertaining.
This is because we can be entertained by predictable characters doing mostly predictable things while surrounded by marvelously done special effects and saying some pretty great lines. The film isn’t going to change anyone’s paradigm (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), inspire swooning (The Notebook), or have people cheering at the end of it (Goonies), but it will keep you mostly engrossed and there are some very nice gems.
Emeralds, you could say.
Released on June 17, 2011
Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green (appropriate, no?), Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg.
Directed by Martin Campbell
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, and Michael Clark Duncan’s voice.
* * * *
The movie begins with a long-ish unfolding of the back story of the Green Lantern folks. This, unfortunately, is a sign that the movie you are about to see may struggle a little. It’s like a lengthy prologue. My rule: If it’s necessary to your story, either change your story or put the prologue IN THE STORY. The prologue ends with a red alien who is part of the Green Lantern corps crashing to earth after a rough battle with Parallax, who is a being that uses fear to increase and wield his power.
The red alien, Abin Sur, sends the energy in his Green Lantern ring to go choose someone who can wield the ring worthily. The prerequisite is that they be fearless. The ring chooses Hal Jordan.
Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is a cocksure test pilot who begins the film by showing off his skills as a pilot, then freezing up due to a tragedy with his father, and barely surviving. This is very cliche. This is really fine, too. It’s done perfectly well and, although it’s no surprise, the film is committed to the cliche.
After his fall from grace, he is grabbed by the power of the glowing green ring and deposited next to the crashed alien, Abin Sur, whereupon Jordan begins the saga of becoming a true hero who overcomes his worst fear. See, it turns out that the ring didn’t select a fearless person, but instead selected a person who could overcome his worst fear. This is a little silly, and is one of the several plot contrivances/holes that ding the overall experience.
Hal then commences training after figuring out how to use his new ring. His training takes place on a different planet, which houses the center of the power of the green superheroes. He is sardonic and quick and seems like a real person, which is nice and is one of the excellent things about this film. Sure, the people are cliches and stereotypes, but they’re REAL cliches.
The story rolls on with Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard), the son of a well-connected senator, getting possessed by the evil Parallax and undergoing some funky transformations. He’s got some wonderful lines and Sarsgaard really brings a lively wickedness to the movie. He’s a charming and enjoyable villain.
And the film rolls along as the scalawag Hal faces more than he thinks he can handle, wants to throw in the towel, is encouraged by a lovely lady, Carol Ferris (Lively), and because he is a superhero who isn’t Batman, wins. Now, truth to tell, I’m not sure why Lively is so famous. She’s attractive, but my wife is beautiful and Hotness is not famous. And my wife is a far better actor than Blake. It’s hard to understand.
I found the journey to be mostly entertaining. The fringe characters add somewhat to the piece, with Jordan’s pal having a particularly fun and fresh reaction to Hal’s new abilities. The second act lags somewhat, mostly because there’s nothing too unexpected happening.
And then there are the effects and the comic-book feel. Lovers of comics and those familiar with the Green Lantern comics will absolutely appreciate the shapes and such that Hal forms with his mind/will when he is wielding the power of the ring. The effects are quite nice, with only a few of them being too transparent and obvious.
All in all, the film is an entertaining ride. Certainly better than Transformers 2. You will enjoy the clever dialogue and the excellent final set-pieces.
One serious problem is that of all the greenies, there were apparently no females. We see a total of three ladies in this film: one for 5 seconds who is in Hal’s bed, one is a doctor whom he saves, and one is Blake Lively, who is a pretty strong character, despite Lively’s lack of ability.
Green Lantern is #6 for the year so far. It’s better than Source Code and Limitless because it does what it meant to do.
Pens (writing): 3
Cameras (acting): 3
Screens (the entire experience): 3