Movie Review: The Green Lantern
June 21, 2011
Dear Ryan Reynolds,
I’m afraid we must break up. After anticipating your film Green Lantern for what feels like years, the majority of your body didn’t even show up. You let them CGI your tush in. Other than your first appearance, which was a flash of tighty-whities, there was very little of the physical you. You do look fabulous in green, which might have something to do with you landing the role, but saving some lives does not a good super-hero movie make.
Also, your sense of humor took off around the time you inherited the Green Lantern ring. Your warm brown eyes? You let those get compromised, replaced by some albino blue peepers when you put on the mask. Plus Blake Lively is only lukewarm as a love interest, and if you’re going to go after another woman, at least let her be completely smashing. All this to say, even though we’ve been in admiration of you for a decade, unless you turn into the next George Clooney in your coming roles, we’re done.
Breaking up is hard to do, but of the summer films thus far, this one just felt lackluster (which is a bummer, given how shiny it should have been). Reynolds, as Hal Jordan, did the best he could, really, given the writing. Once tasked with saving the universe, the character Jordan faltered and flopped more than a politician, and that’s not what we’re looking for in a defender of the intergalactic peace.
Blake Lively’s Carol Ferris was confusing as a character for those of us not familiar with the comic book—she isn’t tough enough with Hal as a boss and isn’t into him enough for us to believe her as a lover. Lively’s performance is particularly dull compared to her raw and memorable portrayal of Krista Caughlin in The Town. This performance felt like the TV performances of her past. With both of the romantic leads being less than authentic, that element of Green Lantern fell totally flat.
The amorphous “bad guy”, Parallax, is a cloud of yellow and brown dust that feeds off fear, killing planets by sucking out their inhabitants’ spines. Let me repeat that: amorphous cloud of dust that eats people’s spines and feeds on fear. In order to be more concrete, the filmmakers introduce a scientist, Hector Hammond, who gets infected by the yellow-dust-amoeba, thus making an earthly bad guy who does evil for fun. Hector Hammond is also a friend of both Hal and Carol, just for convenience sake. By the by, Peter Sarsgaard appears to have much too much fun playing the infected mad scientist. It’s creepy.
The graphics are good, as they should be for an action-packed comic book flick. They’re about on par with the most recent Harry Potter movies, just more green. The lantern and ring are nifty to look at, and yes, even Hal Jordan’s magically disappearing mask is cool to watch. The disfigured Hammond’s head grows grotesquely giant over time, something that probably helped earn the PG-13 rating. There is a barbequed senator scene that probably contributes to that rating as well.
The city on Oa, the Green Lantern planet that Hall shoots up to a few times in the film, looks like green fireflies in a cave, nothing too fabulous. The purple alien Green Lanterns are, well, purple. Also not overly impressive. The city smashing toward the end looks like every other apocalyptic city squashing scene.
I have a personal beef with the fighter jet scene in the beginning of the film, mostly because the scene is ripped from the Top Gun handbook, from the topography to the music to the camera angles to the flat spin. While this could be homage, it felt like thievery.
All together, something essential got lost in translation from comic books to filmmakers to us in the paying seats. Whether it was the divergent plot lines or the lack of character strength, Green Lantern is the dimmest beacon of the summer.
Miranda Foresman lives in Arroyo Grande and reviews movies for Cal Coast News.