Film Review – Green Lantern
Let me first start this review off with a disclaimer. I never read the Green Lantern comic book as a kid or as an adult. I did not know his backstory, or the intricacies of the world he is a part of, or where he stands in the pantheon of classic DC characters. The only thing that I knew about Green Lantern was that he had a special ring that can help him create just about any kind of object through his own mind and willpower, which is actually kind of cool. Obviously, I’m a rookie when it comes to Green Lantern knowledge. Now that we got that out of the way, I walked in to Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern (2011) with low expectations. Nothing from what I’ve seen in the trailers or read in press releases gave me much to be excited for. I thought I was going to see a silly, flat, overproduced, unexciting movie with bad dialogue and uninteresting characterizations. Unfortunately, I got exactly what I was expecting.
Which is really too bad, because there was a part of me that was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the film, which makes it even more of a let-down. What kept me optimistic was that Martin Campbell is a director who knows how to make a good action movie. GoldenEye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006) are two of my favorite Bond films, both full of energy and great style. The man knows how to stage very good action scenes and keep them cohesive without having to settle for the overblown flashiness that we see from every other action movie out nowadays. However, this film falls into the latter category. It is a movie that lacks any kind of joy or excitement; it seems to plod along through the beats of a superhero movie all the way through to the end. Its tone is all over the place; it feels as if Campbell (along with the four screenwriters that penned it) didn’t know whether or not this should have been a serious film or a Saturday morning cartoon show.
I feel one the major mistakes was in the casting. Ryan Reynolds was completely wrong for the role of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. Early on, we learn that Hal is a character who suffered a tragedy in his young life, and all the way until adulthood was filled with a kind of fear that prevented him from being the man he could potentially be. When Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), the great Green Lantern warrior, crash lands on Earth after nearly being destroyed by the evil being Parallax (Clancy Brown), Abin entrusts his powerful ring to choose a worthy replacement. Well, the ring must have been having an off day as well, because Hal does not seem to be the most worthy of humans out of all the possible choices on Earth. He is a hotshot test pilot for the military, lives in a swanky apartment, and drives a sweet-looking car. In the beginning of the film, he wakes up next to a beautiful woman. Are these the descriptions of a guy in need of a change in his life? I didn’t think so. I always felt the best kind of superhero characters are those of the underdog, the kind of person who never had things go their way but are suddenly given a great gift to make a positive change. I didn’t sense that at all here. Reynolds’ performance does not help with bringing any kind of sympathy to his character. He pretty much plays the same kind of person that he has in many other roles: cocky, sarcastic, and always quick with the smart-ass remarks. That doesn’t help when you’re trying to create a character we’re supposed to be relating to.