With a lesser fanbase than numerous other superheroes that I could mention, an estimated budget of about $200 million and ongoing concerns about the computer effects not being up to scratch (according to every clip and internet rumour before the movie was released, anyway), Green Lantern is far from an easy sell. So it’s a pleasant surprise to find that the film itself is a fairly passable slice of entertainment, if nothing that will set the cinematic world alight.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a cocky and skilled pilot who has one big flaw – he always walks away from anything rather than stay too close. This stems from a childhood incident (revealed in a clumsy flashback worthy of a third Hot Shots! Movie) in which he saw his father, also a pilot, die in a crash. His father was a brave man, it was his job, and Hal likes to pretend to everyone around him that he is just as brave. That claim is really put to the test when an alien warrior crash-lands on Earth and passes his ring and lantern to Hal before passing away. The ring and the lantern are symbols and tools of the Green Lantern Corps, a race of intergalactic protectors, and Hal has to prove himself quickly while adjusting to his new role, one that gives him a snazzy, green-suited makeover and some impressive powers. With the ring granting the wearer the power to create anything that their mind can come up with, the possibilities are endless. But there’s another pressing emergency in the shape of a large, bad beastie known as Parallax heading towards Earth in order to claim the spirits of anyone in its path.
Clocking in at a runtime nicely under the two hour mark (though the inevitable director’s cut/extended edition takes it just over), Green Lantern is one of the livelier and purely entertaining superhero movies. It’s not as dark and gritty as a Batman film, nor is it as child-friendly and inoffensive as an outing for the Fantastic Four. It sits nicely in the middle and perhaps that’s why so many people felt the urge to criticise it.
If I’m absolutely honest with myself, as I always try to be in my movie views, I’d have to say that despite my apathy towards the central character and the whole mythos of the Green Lantern Corp I enjoyed this movie a lot more than some other superhero films of 2011. It was a lot more fun, for example, than the wildly overpraised X – Men: First Class and may even just edge ahead of the impressive Thor (reviewed here by Daniel Kelly). I am well aware that my opinion is going to be about as popular as a load of silver service at a werewolf convention but there it is.
The greatest asset that the movie has is Reynolds, as likeable and cocky as ever in the role of Hal Jordan. The man has limitations as an actor but he does well with the routine he’s best at. Peter Sarsgaard is the other great presence onscreen, playing a scientist who has been unwittingly infected by a remnant of Parallax and becomes an agent of the fearsome entity. Mark Strong (as Sinestro) tries hard but doesn’t look comfortable covered in a CGI-suit and red face. Vocal performances from Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan are both enjoyable, there’s a fun role for Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett pops up for a few minutes. There are many other people jostling for some onscreen time but nobody else makes much of an impression, least of all Blake Lively as potential love interest Carol Ferris. Lively adds little to the film and doesn’t really have the presence required to share screentime with our lean, green, fighting machine.
Martin Campbell directs with an assured hand, from a screenplay that had about four people working on it, and does just enough to prove himself up to the task (though he was much better dealing with Bond and even Zorro). The material is treated with a degree of seriousness but Hal Jordan, as the outsider looking in on this new universe of possibilities, has fun with the powers and starts off by mocking what he doesn’t understand. The film is hardly loaded with action but there are a few decent set-pieces throughout as things lead up to a surprisingly grand-scale finale. And, as we all know, the main thing a superhero always has to provide is an origin story. With that in mind, this is definitely a well-paced and enjoyable film that crams in the required details without overloading viewers. It also sets things up for a sequel.
I don’t know if it pleases fans of the comic book (having never read any of these tales) but I do know that it pleased me and I must also say that it’s nice to see a superhero movie this year with no damn crossover/promotion shoehorned in there.
So remember: “In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight, Let those who worship evil’s might, Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!”
Sadly, I only had the DVD to review (which only includes a number of trailers for other movie releases and superhero products) but Green Lantern is released on 3D Super Play, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download from Monday 17th October here in the UK. The Blu-ray special features include an extended cut of the movie, a number of “focus pods” and picture in picture details, featurettes, deleted scenes and more ao it would seem to be well worth a few pounds if you can find it at a nice price.
DIRECTOR: MARTIN CAMPBELL
WRITERS: GREG BERLANTI, MICHAEL GREEN, MARC GUGGENHEIM, MICHAEL GOLDENBERG
STARS: RYAN REYNOLDS, PETER SARSGAARD, MAKR STRONG, BLAKE LIVELY, TIM ROBBINS, GEOFFREY RUSH, MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN
RUNTIME: 114 MINS APPROX (123 MINS APPROX, EXTENDED CUT)