Don’t Be a Dick: Give Green Lantern a 2nd Chance

June 20, 2013 6:18 pm

Green Lantern (2011) Review

By Jayme K.

It’s been a while since Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern hit theatre screens and has also actually been some time since I bought the Blu-ray blindly, being a DC fan boy and all. Green Lantern is one of those films that I’ve thrown on the television a number of times with the intent of watching and have wound up: playing with my phone, going on the computer, or leaving the house entirely. My eyes had seen Green Lantern start to finish more than once, but my brain hadn’t absorbed any of the plot, story, or acting…until now.

I gave the theatrical version of this movie a look recently as a ‘warm up’ for Zack Snyder’s Superman-reboot Man of Steel. Now, look, Green Lantern is heavily flawed. That’s not really news to anyone; I can see why people dislike this movie. Hell, I’ve trashed it, and as we’ve covered already, I barely even paid attention to it.

But, as I’ve come to find out, this movie is really not all that bad. It got raked over the coals hard when it was first released and I am here to say, undeservingly so. Many people had expected Iron Man 2.0 when entering the theatre in 2011. A second-string superhero given his chance to shine on the big screen? Worked for Downey Jr. For all intents and purposes, Green Lantern is probably the furthest thing from Iron Man.

Let’s get some obvious complaints out of the way: the CGI sucks, yes. Ryan Reynolds’s suit has not aged well and looks very PlayStation 2-esque. Why they didn’t just give him a regular jumpsuit and then CGI the details in after…I’m not sure…but it’s annoying as fuck when watching it now in 2013.

Second complaint: the Green Lantern get-up HARDLY masks Hal Jordan’s secret identity. Yes, I’m aware this isn’t really a fault of the film as much as it is the comics and yes, I’m also aware that there has to be a suspension of disbelief when watching films like these but COME ON. At least change his hairstyle or something!

In one scene, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) breaks into the Green Lantern outfit at a banquet and saves a number of people in plain sight. What does he do after saving Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins) and others? He stands in front of a mass of people, doe-eyed. Yet nobody seems to realize that it’s Hal Jordan wearing a mask and weird costume.

…Really? Seriously? 

Writing that makes it understandable why people despised this movie. There are more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese.

Now, as I’ve stated before, this review is in fact in defense of 2011’s Green Lantern. I will state, for the record, that despite the instances of faulty writing and ever-present plot holes, Green Lantern is not a bad movie. Yes, I said it. It’s not a bad movie. …if you’re a fan of 1950s sci-fi.

If you ignore the fact that films like The Dark Knight and Iron Man exist, Green Lantern suddenly becomes infinitely more enjoyable. This movie does not fall into the same field as SteelSuper girlJonah Hex, and Batman & Robin. I assure you that much. As a matter of fact, I’d rank it above Bryan Singer’s bore-fest Superman Returns and throw it in the same league as the television series Smallville.

If you take it for what it is, Green Lantern is a tolerable and somewhat enjoyable film. I don’t blame Martin Campbell for taking a misstep when trying to adapt the difficult-to-translate Green Lantern mythos. There is a lot to work with here. Perhaps too much.

On the positive side, Ryan Reynolds is an entertaining and likable Hal Jordan. On paper, he doesn’t really fit the part, but does what he can with the material dealt and elevates it. Mark Strong is the perfect Sinestro, both in appearance and demeanour. This is a prime example of spot-on comic book casting. Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond is an inspired, albeit odd, choice to say the least. The performances, overall, are mixed but nobody outright sucks.

From a fantasy and sci-fi perspective, the story excels. As for being a comic book adaption… It’s the first (and so far only) film in what was planned to be a franchise and so you’re handed the typical origin yarns. Green Lantern does not suffer from what drained Batman Begins and, the worst offender of all; The Amazing Spiderman. Its origin-telling does not slow the unfurling plot down and instead, moves swiftly alongside it. You get to know Hal Jordan, he dons the costume, and then suddenly it’s Green Lantern: Year One. We’re not forced to drudge through an unwanted back story about the mystery of Hal Jordan’s parents, or shown 40 minutes of Hal Jordan training in Bhutan with Liam Neeson. Instead the audience is thrown right into the swing of things and the story develops at a somewhat natural pace.

At the end of the day, Green Lantern won’t impress most audiences but that falls more on the character and his origin than the director and Warner Bros. They tried to market a character with a very specific niche base and predictably failed to turn him into a mainstream icon in the same way as Batman or Superman.

This movie is not great, but it’s not terrible. It certainly does not deserve the unholy amount of flack it has gotten. Nor does it deserve a reboot–if only to maintain Mark Strong in the role of Sinestro for a future sequel or spin off. This is a franchise that, I believe, can be salvaged and incorporated into the new DC Cinematic Universe.

If you’re a fan of 1950s science fiction films, general fantasy, Ryan Reynolds’s good looks, and/or the DC universe then give it a look. It may just surprise you.

If you’re not into those things… eh.

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