“In brightest day, in blackest night, no movie shall escape my sight.
So if you like your comic book movies done right, avoid Green Lantern; it’s trite!”
Two weeks ago, when I reviewed Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, I whined that aside from a few great films (“First Class” included), most superhero movies were derivative drivel, conceived and marketed to a nation of pubescent and immature teens. Green Lantern is just the type of movie that fits the bill. For starters, it’s marginally entertaining but poorly conceived, badly written, full of stock characters moving from one cliché to the next. Worse, it features a storyline that’s we’ve seen a million times already (hero gets superpowers, goes through training, struggles with superpowers, miraculously comes to term with powers and finally defeats the bad guy and wins the girl). But worst of all, it’s just plain boring.
While it’s far from the worst superhero movie I’ve seen, it’s a poster child of the kind of Hollywood blockbuster I loathe because like many idiotic superhero movies before it (See: Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Jonah Hex), it’s not the acting or the special effects that’s the issue (those always tend to top-notch in these movies). It’s the fact that no one took the time or gave a rat’s ass to see if the movie had a half-way decent or even coherent script. I don’t even have to bet, I just know the bottom line behind the green lighting of this flick came down to these questions: “Does it have an audience?” “Can you make it look cool?” “How many movies can we milk off this sucker?”
One of the few things Green Lantern does have going for it is Ryan Reynolds who somehow manages to get out of this thing in one piece despite this being his third atrocious superhero film (after Blade: Trinity and Wolverine). He plays brutally handsome ladies man and all-round selfish asshole Hal Jordan who’s the best test pilot working for Ferris Aircraft, an aircraft manufacturer hoping to score a big contract with the government. After Hal’s irresponsibility and showboating costs the company the contract (and a ton of people, their jobs), Hal drives home and fights with his family whom he barely cares about. For some baffling reason, these selfish character traits are good enough for a dying alien superhero named Abin Sur who crash lands on Earth and hand-picks Hal as his replacement. Gifted with a green ring of power and a power charger in the shape of a lantern, Hal is blasted off in a giant green bubble to a distant planet named Oa to be oriented as a member of the 3,000-strong Green Lantern Corps – an intergalactic peace-keeping army.
After getting a crash course in Green Lantern mythology, being wowed with cool special effects and being subjected to a juvenile training session with fellow Green Lanterns Tomar Re (Geoffrey Rush), Killowag (Michael Clarke Duncan) and leader Sinestro (Mark Strong), we’re subjected to more boring drama on Earth as Hal, being the baby he is, quits his post after five minutes on the job citing that it’s too tough. Apparently, Hal has been suffering through some daddy issues which stem from the death of his test pilot father in an aircraft crash back when he was a kid (illustrated in a hilarious flashback). According to the four screenwriters credited, this is why Hal rejects responsibility and avoids relationships, specifically with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) – his smokin’ hot boss and colleague at Ferris Aircraft. Excuse me? Hal is an irresponsible quitter because he saw his dad die? Talk about a casserole of bull.
Elsewhere in the universe, while Hal is simultaneously discovering and rejecting his new-found superpowers (while not flirting with Carol), an enormous fart cloud known as Parallax (and a dead-ringer for the aliens in Mars Attacks) is destroying planets by feeding on fear. Its link to Earth lies within meek scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) who, like Hal, has daddy issues with his smarmy senator dad (Tim Robbins cashing a paycheck). At first, Hector is by-far the film’s most sympathetic character but since he’s the bad guy, everything interesting about him is deemed unnecessary once he is infected by Parallaxes’ toxin. Overnight, Hector transforms from a shy, awkward scientist into a telepathic Elephant Man with ultra-serious acne. What Hector intends to do with his “evil” powers are never revealed and it’s all thrown to the curb once Parallax hits town. Now it’s all up to daddy’s little Hal to grow a pair, kick ass, kiss the girl and save the universe! Say what now?
If I even had to reiterate, the problems with Green Lantern begin and end with its plot hole-heavy, cliché-ridden, over-stuffed “script” that shafts all the characters of any substance and throws in every sub-plot they could think of. Because of this, the characters, their motivations and their decisions are severely undercooked. Despite the best efforts of Reynolds, Sarsgaard (who seemed to have been in a different movie), Strong (who figures into another subplot that’s rendered pointless by the climax) and even Lively whose role basically amounts to “hot girl who needs to be rescued,” I couldn’t invest in any of these people. Just about the only good thing in the film are the effects and that’s a bad sign. I can’t even recommend the action scenes since most of them are so uninspired (Hal saves a helicopter from crashing by putting it on a Hot Wheels racetrack in the sky. Why not stop it, you idiot?)
I simply cannot recommend anyone wasting their time with Green Lantern. While it’s far from the worst superhero blockbuster made (it’s on par with Daredevil), there isn’t anything in this film that warrants your time. Sure Ryan Reynolds is an appealing actor and so is Blake Lively but both of them are wasted here, along with Peter Sarsgaard and Mark Strong. Even the effects, which are impressive at times is far from the best work I’ve seen. Overall, the movie is derivative, boring, punched with plot holes and sadly, one of the year’s biggest disappointments. I can only hope the people of Marvel have a better movie lined up with Captain America next month.
PS. The 3-D isn’t worth it. Neither is waiting around for the baffling mid-credits sequence which makes no sense in the scheme of the movie. It basically sets up a sequel that’s not going to happen.