- Movie Rating -

Green Lantern (2011)

| June 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Of all the comic book heroes, Green Lantern has a superpower would seem to be the most fun.  He wears a ring that gives him, not only a super suit, but also the ability to expel a green energy that can transform into anything he needs.  In the new film by Martin Campbell, he transforms this energy into a racetrack to save a doomed helicopter and later into a giant machine gun to take down an otherworldly menace.  That’s a good starting point but it is a tiny piece of a movie that swims in its own drama.

Green Lantern is, of course,  a 71 year-old DC comics property that, until now, I was completely unfamiliar with. This is my introduction, but it didn’t make me want to make me study further.  The move stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, a hot-shot Air Force pilot and the son of a celebrated flyboy who died years ago in front of little Hal’s eyes.  Hal, now an adult, is following in daddy’s footsteps although he possesses survival skills that don’t make the military brass very happy.  As the movie opens, he takes out two supposedly indestructible experimental robot planes by forcing them to chase him into the stratosphere.  He takes out the robots, but loses his own bird along the way.

Later that night he comes across a downed spaceship occupied by a blue alien named Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison).  The alien is near-death and bequeaths Jordan with a magic ring and a glowing green lantern.  The ring, he discovers is his power while the lantern is the battery recharger, although in this movie the ring never seems to run out of juice.  The ring also grants him membership to The Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic union of peacekeepers from all across the universe.  Jordan’s territory, of course, is earth.

At the same time, a menace called Paralax – a creature that looks like a corroded octopus – is released and is headed toward earth. Jordan has to battle this beast while also dealing with a bucket-full of personal issues: His relationship with his girlfriend (Blake Lively), some daddy issues, and a broody nerdlinger scientist named Hector (Peter Sarsgaard) who gains some evil superpowers while performing Abin Sur’s autopsy.

If this all sounds overblown and silly, believe me, it is.  The problem is that the movie takes this silly plot with resolute seriousness, especially in a moment when Reynolds stares into the lantern and recites the GL creed:

In brightest day, in blackest night.
No evil shall ever escape my sight.
Let all who worship evil’s might.
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!

This is a line that could only be performed with a cheesy grin, unfortunately Reynolds is stuck with delivering the line twice, and both times with aching seriousness.  In fact, that’s the problem with the whole movie, it takes itself so seriously that there isn’t any room for any fun.  It gets so bogged down in the business of training Green Lantern for the Green Lantern Corps and then the business of The Paralax that there is no time for Jordan to be amazed by his newfound powers.

Most of the movie is taken up with the business of Green Lantern’s battle with the nerdy scientist named Hector Hammond, whose body is infected while doing research on Amin Sur and becomes bloated and deformed.  His scenes are grotesque and unpleasant and drag the film into scenes that are bleak and ugly.

The look of the film too is ugly.  The production is dark and grim, the skies are overcast both on earth and in the realm of The Green Lantern Corps.  The cinematography has an unhealthy pallor of sickly, nauseating green.  I understand that this is Green Lantern’s color scheme, but as the main color palette of an action film, it is very unsettling.  Even Green Lantern’s suit looks a little unappealing, making him look like a walking collard green.

Green Lantern  is the fourth superhero movie that I have seen this year.  It is not as silly as Green Hornet.  It is has more plot than Thor and it is far less predictable then X-Men: First Class.  There are moments in this film that seem to point to a much happier production, and I wish director Martin Campbell would have reached back into the campy origins of his superhero and make a movie that isn’t such a downer.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.