Saturday, 13 August 2011


Warner Bros. Pictures
Now Showing

Given the critical drubbing the film received in the US, I went into Green Lantern expecting the worst film of the year - and it's not. I mean, it's still not very good and compared to the other superhero movies which have graced our screens this year, it's the least of them. But it's not the steaming pile of emerald-coloured excrement I had braced myself for.

Granted, the first half of the film (directed by Martin Campbell, no doubt chosen for his successful rebooting of the James bond franchise with Casino Royale in 2006) is a mess. There's an overlong history lesson about the Green Lantern Corps (narrated by Geoffrey Rush), protecting the universe via the power of Will which is channelled through their power rings; a brief introduction to the evil flipside of such power with the energy entity Parallax who feeds off fear; before we are finally introduced to Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), cocky test pilot and, much to his surprise and that of the Green Lantern Corps, led by Sinestro (Mark Strong), it's newest recruit.

Hal is chosen when the Corp member defending Earth's section of the galaxy is fatally injured by Parallax; crash landing on Earth and sending his power ring out to find a worthy successor. This sees Hal transported to the Corps' home planet of Oa for training, while back on Earth Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), scientist and one-time friend of Hal, conducts the autopsy on the fallen alien, becoming infected as a result (side effects include a gradual transformation into Eric Stoltz in Mask) and a conduit-of-sorts for Parallax.

Like I said, it's a mess. But Green Lantern settles down in its second half, when Hal has to overcome his own fears and personal doubts to embrace the hero he was destined to be and defeat both Hector, who has the hots for Hal's girlfriend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and then Parallax, who touches down on Earth in the third act to tear some shit up.

Green Lantern has neither the light touch of Marvel's Iron Man, Captain America or Thor, though it does resemble that latter film with its division of action between Earth and Oa; the CGI-heavy scenery perhaps the only reason for the film being unnecessarily in 3D. Nor does it have the serious mindedness of The Dark Knight; Batman being a DC Comics stable mate of Green Lantern.

And writers Michael Green and Greg Berlanti (Green-Berlanti?) seem unsure just how much assumed knowledge of this world their audience will and will not have; the Green Lantern Corp exposition seemingly for beginners, while the Hal-Carol-Hector relationship is taken for granted and never properly explained.

Like Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Chris Evans's Captain America, Ryan Reynolds makes for a charismatic, easy on the eyes hero; buffed up but keeping his smart-arsery in check. Peter Sarsgaard makes the most of an underwritten and over-prostheticized villain, while Blake Lively does what she can with the token love interest role though she's not as lost as Angela Bassett, as a government scientist, and Tim Robbins, as Hector's disapproving, politico father.

As far as superhero/comic book movies go, Green Lantern pales in comparison to its 2011 cousins with Thor, Captain America and X-Men: First Class all providing far more impressive origin stories and all-round entertainment generally.

But a critical drubbing can't keep a superhero down, and there's already talk of a sequel (Note: stay through the film's end credits for a sneak peek at the likely, and unsurprising, villain). With $100 million+ at the US box office, a different kind of green exerts a power all its own in Hollywood.

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