Green Lantern

The comic book movie has come of age. They are now so common, so pervasive, they qualify as their own genre as traditional as drama or comedy at this point. Spider-Man and The Dark Knight proved these movies could be both artistic and lucrative. But they’ve given rise to a lot of really inferior films as well. Green Lantern is the latest offense.

The introductory narration informs us of The Guardians of the Universe, a knobby headed race of immortals that speak every word as if they’re reciting great poetry They sit on high thrones, have long robes and discuss intergalactic policy to the point of tedium. They’re a rather joyless lot. They’re also the founders and leaders of the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar police force that keeps the peace in the cosmos. Hal Jordan is a pilot and the first earthling selected to be a part of the task force. The setting alternates between planet Earth and the planet Oa, the origin of our hero’s power. When Green Lantern is brought to the foreign planet for training, he’s greeted by a humanoid lizard-like creature. Despite belonging to a strange race on a distant planet, the extraterrestrial conveniently speaks in an English accent. Blimey!  British articulation just make people seem so much more clever, doesn’t it? The rest the plot is a barrage of one CGI exhibition after another.  Dull story is a soulless, recycled piece of routine.

Green Lantern is a textbook case of how CGI ruins films. The picture  joins such effects-laden creations as The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which all excessively relied on computer graphics at the expense of a good story. There is a dizzying amount beginning with the opening scenes.  The setup concerns some nonsense about this ultimate being of fear called Parallax.  At times, the picture more closely resembles an animated movie than a live action flick. And the visuals are really ugly I might add. I don’t know how you can spend $200 million and produce a film with special effects that look so cheap, but somehow director Martin Campbell found a way. In the past, a filmmaker would wisely save these pyrotechnics for the climax or for key roles. Ang Lee’s Hulk was an infamous example of how shoddy CGI can ruin a character. But Lee showed remarkable restraint compared to what Martin Campbell does here. Green Lantern’s entire suit is CGI. Ryan Reynolds apparently wore a motion capture suit during shooting and the graphics were added in postproduction. It’s so skin-tight, he looks as if he’s simply wearing briefs and had the suit superimposed over his skin. He resembles a glowing green anatomically incorrect Ken doll.

Even the performances fail to engage. Ryan Reynolds usually has an appealingly affable presence.  He’s terrific in light comedies which require him to toss one liners and be glib. But here the script never really allows him to rely on what he does best. He manages to be charming, but most of his dialogue falls flat amidst the murky spectacle around him. Blake Lively is laughably bad as fellow pilot and love interest Carol Ferris. She’s initially required to act exasperated with Hal and his irresponsible ways, but she never seems convincingly upset or even intelligent. You know when they put on a pair of glasses on a sexy looking woman to play a scientist? Well Lively’s performance is about as convincing. The rest of the impressive supporting cast obviously placed commerce over art when agreeing to this script. Tim Robbins, merely 12 years his senior, unconvincingly plays Peter Sarsgaard’s father(!) Academy Award nominee, Angela Bassett, also shows up in a white lab coat and comes across as the pompous intellectual of the scientific world in charge of recovering a mysterious being. With all the high profile talent, it’s interesting that the only actor who extracts a few laughs form the script is New Zealand director Taika Waititi who plays a mechanic.

The whole undertaking is a half-baked story with grimy special effects. Even by the fanciful standards of superhero films, the story is a ridiculous mess that jumps round with no apparent rhyme or reason. It’s haphazard and unfocused. Now and then it almost aspires to the campy fun of an 80s classic like Flash Gordon. But where that explosion of color and wackiness felt effortless, this feels like nothing more than a labored, depressing chore.

6 Responses to “Green Lantern”

  1. Markus Robinson Says:

    Wow, I the trailers looked bad, but I had no idea. Great review as always. Now I know for sure that I will not be seeing this movie.


  2. I love when bad movies inspire us to write these types of rants. They’re so liberating, aren’t they?

    I’m still going to see Green Lantern. Why? I really don’t know. I don’t care for special effects, I’m not the biggest comic-book or Ryan Reynolds fan. I guess I’m just… curious.

    And finally someone said what I’ve been thinking since the first time I watched the trailer: the effects look cheap! I’m totally with you on that! They’re awful! This reminded me, and I’m probably the only one in the world who thinks this way, but I also found the multi-million-dollar effects on Avatar to look VERY cheap.


    • I wouldn’t call this a rant because I got some enjoyment from the film. I didn’t loathe it. But when you have at least 12 comic book adaptations every year, the standard is high. Thir, for example, was a good film.


  3. I expected this to be bad, but WOW!, it was bad. When I almost fall asleep during an action movie, that’s a bad sign. I can’t believe all that money was spent on this tragic movie. I kinda disagree with Fernando, I liked the special effects in
    Avatar. Oh, and Blake Lively should NOT be acting.


  4. Just saw this and I absolutely hated it. I found it impossible to keep watching, and I probably fell asleep at one point. My vote for worst film of 2011, with runner ups Shark Night and Breaking Dawn. I think you said it all pretty well. Here’s my review:


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