With the summer releases of Thor and X-Men: First Class behind us and Captain America, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Cowboys & Aliens on the way, 2011 looks to offer the perfect summer for comic book movies. Green Lantern should fit right in, but instead it fails miserably both on its own merits and when compared to the previous successes of Thor and X-Men.
Green Lantern is based on the 1940s DC Comics series and is set in an alternative universe where Green Lanterns, human and alien alike, each possess a magical power ring that is fueled only by the wearer’s strength of will and can generate anything he or she can imagine. They are members of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic band of peacekeepers led by Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) charged with protecting the universe.
There are aliens, extraterrestrial worlds and battles of good vs. evil, yet bafflingly, there is nothing interesting about the film. The plot is lethargic, the casting is terrible, the special effects add no life and the dialogue is dry and stilted.
Even the couple of half-interesting fight scenes could barely rouse viewers from their popcorn comas. A single component, however, cannot be pinpointed for the film’s lack of quality, rather all the thematic and technical components combine to explain the film’s failure.
Ryan Reynolds plays protagonist Hal Jordan, a self-assured test pilot who starts off as little more than a smug man-child. Hal is certainly not a bad person, but his flippant irresponsibility and arrogance cause him to clash with many of the adults around him, including Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), a fellow test pilot and the object of his affections.
Hal must rise to the challenge of becoming a hero when he is “chosen” by the power ring of dying Abin Sur to replace the alien as a Green Lantern.
Though it’s fair practice to ask audiences to suspend their disbelief to facilitate the enjoyment of a superhero flick, there are limits to our compliance. Any audience member who doesn’t happen to personally belong to the Green Lantern Corps almost certainly lacks the willpower to believe that out of all the possible people on Earth, the ring would choose him.
Reynolds plays Jordan as if he’d rather be somewhere else. The character’s emotional range and likeability are definitely lacking and he seems incredibly tired throughout the film.
Green Lantern has a wide array of compelling and sometimes odd source material to be developed from, and yet it’s surprisingly generic — the artificial sweetener of superhero movies: It looks, smells and tastes like a superhero movie, but turns out to be a fake and leaves a bad aftertaste.
The tired, rehashed dialogue doesn’t yield a single memorable line, while begrudgingly pushing along the even more tired plot. The handful of small, comedic moments that should brighten up the dialogue are nothing more than cheap, calculated winks at the audience. Only one short bit of humor is endearing, lampshading the ridiculousness of an eye-mask being able to conceal a superhero’s identity.
In keeping with the trend, the villain is generic and one-dimensional as well. Parallax, which sounds like an over-the-counter drug administered to hyperactive children, was once a Guardian of the Universe until he was exposed to the yellow energy of fear, turned evil and consequently imprisoned by Abin Sur. Now, he has broken free and has a thirst for revenge. His presence is limited, however, and when he does appear, he looks like a big mass of black and yellow energy with a face: evil for the sake of being evil.
It’s odd that, with all the money poured into the film, it could turn out to be such as mess. The CGI work is mostly standard, except for the emerald suits that look like cartoons. Also, releasing a film based on the Green Lantern was a gamble in the first place, as while the hero does have a solid fan-base, mainstream moviegoers aren’t as familiar with the franchise as they are with figures like Batman or Superman. Warner Bros. would have been better off choosing John Stewart as the protagonist, who played the Green Lantern in Cartoon Network’s recent Justice League series. Better yet, Warner Bros. should have simply put some effort and enthusiasm into its expensive endeavor.
In the end, the film is such a nonentity that it’s not even a disappointment, except perhaps to diehard fans. Green Lantern is nothing more than a copy-and-paste superhero film, and whether it’s brightest day or blackest night, there are an infinite number of things to do instead of see this film.