Film Review: “Green Lantern”

by Jason LeRoy on June 17, 2011

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds in GREEN LANTERN

starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Jay O. Sanders, Mark Strong

written by: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim & Michael Goldenberg

directed by: Martin Campbell

MPAA: Rated PG-13 For intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Between Thor and X-Men: First Class, Marvel Studios has been dominating the still-young summer 2011 blockbuster season, doing respectable business both critically and commercially. Green Lantern is DC Comics’ chance to steal back some of that nerdy market share. And while it will presumably make a chunk of change at the box office, Green Lantern is a pitifully lame offering in a genre that has generally been setting the bar pretty high for itself over the last few years. It’s flashy and dumb like Iron Man 2, but without the sequelitis to blame for its lack of inspiration.

Ryan Reynolds, who is repeatedly upstaged by his own unnaturally sinewy body, stars as Hal Jordan, a hot-shot daredevil test pilot for the Ferris Aircraft Company, which is in the business of snagging huge defense contracts with the U.S. government. His recklessness really grates on the bosomy nerves of Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), who is basically the Ivanka Trump of the company: her father, Carl (Jay O. Sanders), runs the show, and Carol – who is supposedly some kind of tough, brilliant pilot despite her tendency of getting rescued by men while sporting mile-high heels and skintight minidresses –  is poised to take things over when Dad retires. We also meet Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard, really cranking up his child-toucher energy and testing the limits of just how unattractive he can look), the science-teaching son of an alpha male senator (Tim Robbins, who is only 13 years Sarsgaard’s senior).

Everything is business as usual until the characters unexpectedly find themselves playing out roles in some kind of cosmic pissing contest. When a member of an intergalactic peacekeeping squadron crash-lands on Earth after losing a fight with an all-consuming evil force called Parallax, he charges his big green class ring to find a rightful replacement for him. The ring sends out some kind of green flash that settles on Hal, dragging him back to the crash site for a quick chat about his new powers.

Green is the color of willpower, you see, and this is the most powerful force in the universe. But yellow is the color of fear (and pee), which thinks it can destroy willpower. But fear is not the boss of willpower, and it’s up to Hal to deliver this message. Meanwhile, poor dumpy Hector gets stuck with the unenviable task of fighting for Parallax, which not only means he’s going to lose, but also portends bad things for the shape of his head and the frequency with which he will scream like a woman.

What nice things can I say about Green Lantern? Well… the effects are good. I think. And the colors aren’t as muted as they normally look in 3-D. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are certainly one of the most attractive couples you’ll see this summer; or at least that was the opinion of the gentleman who sat behind me chanting, “Do her, do her,” throughout the film. Reynolds’ performance displays his trademark wit and self-effacing humor, but even he can’t salvage the atrocious dialogue he is forced to read. Things get especially bad when Hal starts flying around the universe spouting generic platitudes about not surrendering to fear.

Green Lantern is unremarkable in every way except for how remarkably disappointing it is. Its script is dumber than a bag of shit, never for a second questioning or challenging its regressively archaic archetypes: the hot hunky superhero with his underlying humanity, the equally bodacious babe who is only there to stare longingly at the hero and be occasionally rescued by him, and the sniveling, weak, unattractive villain with a crippling inferiority complex. And the idea that such roles were chosen for them by the Universe puts forth the unsettling idea that the Universe runs on social Darwinism. Film audiences have come to expect a certain level of wit, cleverness, and even sophistication from our comic book movies. Green Lantern fails utterly on each level.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joel June 20, 2011 at 7:00 am

The best thing about this movie was the Pocket Fighter arcade game in the scene where they slow dance in the bar. Everything else tied for second-best thing, which is one way of saying that everything else in the movie sucked.

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