‘Green Lantern’ released today, DC’s only real addition to the summer. This has very much been a Marvel summer with Thor and X-Men: First Class out already, and Captain America coming to theaters next month. Because this summer is very Marvel it was strange to watch a superhero film and not wonder how it fits into the Avengers or wait to see Nick Fury at the end. Despite my rabid interest in what Marvel is doing with their franchise, it was almost a bit refreshing to watch ‘Green Lantern’ just to see the Green Lantern.
Anyway, let’s not get side tracked on random musings.
‘Green Lantern’ stars Ryan Reynolds in the titular role as test pilot Hal Jordan. His character in this movie is a bit different from the actual comic book character, being more conflicted and irresponsible. While is it very much in vogue to have a conflicted origin story for a superhero, thank you very much Batman and Spider-Man, this movie made it work for the plot. A Green Lantern’s power comes from his will and a conflicted hero is a weaker hero, so it certainly gave our hero something to overcome. Which made the personality change work for the plot as a whole, so let’s call it a win.
So this film revolves around Hal Jordan who is a test pilot that is conflicted over living up to his dead father, also a test pilot, and trying to overcome his own fear in that profession. His father died on the job when Hal was a boy, causing him to follow in his footsteps as an attempt to deny that he is afraid of the same thing happening to him. The contrast between Will and Fear play a very important role in this film, as fans of the comic will know, because the Green Lanterns and their biggest enemy Parallax use those two emotions respectively. All the green magic-type stuff is powered by the user’s will to overcome fear, evil, etc. The big bad, a crazy space smoke cloud guy called Parallax, feeds on fear and can kill people by making them afraid and then draining their life force. Just in case you were wondering, Parallax is also the term for visual displacement of something based on change in relative position. Not sure what that has to do with fear, but it certainly sounds menacing.
A Green Lantern falls while fighting Parallax and ends up on earth wounded and dying, so his ring chooses a ‘worthy’ successor. Hal Jordan is the lucky candidate and so we are treated to a blissfully short sequence of our hero learning the ropes on his own, and then actually being trained by the other Lanterns. I want to take a moment out here to emphasize my gratitude to the people involved in this film for not making this part of the film drag on forever. We could have ended up watching Ryan Reynolds screw around with the ring for an hour before he finally put on the suit and did anything, luckily the filmmakers avoided that pitfall. Good job, guys!
During his journey to power we get some decent supporting actors, nobody did a bad job here but then again I didn’t really see anyone stealing the show either. Blake Lively did a fairly good job as the love interest/inspirational person, solid but not a revelation. There are some other big names in supporting roles, but the other one who stood out was Mark Strong as Sinestro the premier Lantern in the Corps. He really looked like the character from the comics and did a great job of looking and sounding the part.
The special effects were good as well, nothing looked poorly done and considering the sheer amount of CGI there were plenty of opportunities to go wrong. Naturally some of the stuff is bordering on ridiculous, with giant fists a plenty and other such tomfoolery. It doesn’t look bad, but it could be a little too much for some viewers. If that is the case I understand, but if you can handle a comic book movie that is not deadly serious then it should be fine.
One apt comparison for this film would be ‘Thor’. Like that film, ‘Green Lantern’ is the member of the Justice League that seemed the most difficult to make without being too goofy. Maybe in DC we have a few more characters like that, as Marvel usually tries to be a little more serious than it’s counterpart, but ‘Green Lantern’ is certainly one. ‘Thor’ managed to avoid this problem by explaining away the magic and depowering him long enough to allow us to relate to our hero. Although it stretched on too long, and took away from the length of the awesome fights, ‘Thor’ stayed afloat on the strength of the actors and their performances. ‘Green Lantern’ is the exact opposite, it gives us everything we want on a big platter and doesn’t worry at all about being too goofy. In doing so it gains a certain charm, and weaves in enough excitement by not making us watch an unpowered Hal Jordan for most of the film. However, it does not have any real stand out performances by the cast, and the plot follows most of the typical comic book cliches, which keeps it from rising above simply being a decent, enjoyable superhero flick.
It seems that X-Men: First Class still holds the superhero crown for this summer, although that might change next month with Captain America. Despite that, ‘Green Lantern’ is worth seeing if you are in the mood for a fun film with some cool fights and special effects. Ryan Reynolds is in typical form, so if you like his shenanigans then this should be right up your alley. Finally, despite my love of the massively ambitious franchise building Marvel is doing, this film is refreshing simply because it does not seem be doing the same. However there is a bit of blatant sequel bait after the credits, but it’s a superhero movie so that should come as little surprise.
If you are bored, have the time and money, then go eat some popcorn and check out ‘Green Lantern’ it should be pretty fun.