The Green Lantern
Review by Jack Foley
LIKE Marvel’s Thor, DC Comics’ The Green Lantern was always going to be one of the trickier superhero movies to pull off because of its reliance on other worlds and the need for special effects.
Unlike Kenneth Branagh’s comic book success, however, Martin Campbell’s film exposes everything that’s bad about modern blockbusters.
The CGI dominates to soulless effect, the 3D adds very little and the feeling of story over familiarity breeds contempt.
The Green Lantern takes place in a universe overseen by green intergalactic protectors – or lanterns – whose universal peace-keeping authority (generated by will) is threatened by a freshly awakened foe (Parallax) who derives his power from fear.
Thrown unwittingly into this struggle between good and evil is human fighter pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a hotshot with an attitude problem whose ego, to coin a phrase, keeps writing cheques his body can’t cash.
When a dying lantern’s ring ‘selects’ him to become a protector Hal must overcome his initial scepticism and fear to assume the responsibility and power necessary for him to save Earth from the rapidly approaching Parallax.
Caught in the middle, meanwhile, are Hal’s love interest and wing-woman Carol (Blake Lively), who wants him to grow up, and put-upon scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), who unwittingly becomes contaminated with Parallax’s powers.
To be fair, not everything is terrible about Campbell’s movie although most of this stems from the hard work put in by the A-list cast.
Reynolds, for example, plays things suitably tongue in cheek and remains a charismatic, even endearing presence throughout. While Mark Strong is typically commanding, if under-used, as Sinestro (whose future, larger role in the scheme of things only becomes apparent during the closing credits).
Sarsgaard and Lively, meanwhile, make the most of pretty bog standard roles.
But the film’s script – which credits at least four writers – doesn’t give anyone enough to work with or enough respite from the effects and all eventually become lost amid the vacuous nature of the computer generated action.
Quite frankly, it quickly becomes difficult to care about anything that happens given the well worn nature of the story, which ticks all the boxes for this kind of thing.
We know, for instance, Hal will grow up, come good and kiss the girl, just as we know there will be a CGI-backed last act smackdown. And we know good will prevail over bad eventually. Perhaps more tellingly, we don’t care about the under-explained universe it all exists in.
But then Campbell, who has twice re-invigorated the Bond franchise with Goldeneye and Casino Royale, does nothing to freshen up the format here and seems content to draw from every comic book movie that has come before it (most notably Spider-Man, Thor and Superman) with a little Top Gun thrown in.
He could have done with employing some of the more edgy, maverick tendencies of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man or taking a leaf out of Christopher Nolan’s book – both of whom have worked overtime to freshen up the comic book genre of late.
Instead, what may have drawn a legion of fans in comic book form fails to translate to the big screen in satisfactory fashion, unless you get your kicks from watching (rather than playing) computer games and have no appreciation for what constitutes good old fashioned movie-making.
The Green Lantern is therefore a disappointing misfire and a failed attempt to kick-start another lucrative franchise for the DC world and its distributor. It lacks anything exciting, real or heartfelt and appears to be going through the motions for this kind of thing – and that makes the otherwise good work of its cast all the more of a waste.
In a summer that has already delivered some blockbuster greats – X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Thor – Green Lantern‘s failure seems all the more pronounced.
Running time: 114mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 17, 2011