'Green Lantern' (dir: Martin Campbell, 2011), Cert: 12A
Our summer of superheroes has begun. After two entries from Marvel Studios (‘Thor’ and ‘X-Men: First Class’), DC Comics have snuck in and released their picture, ‘Green Lantern’ before Marvel returns with a third film in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. Although the Green Lantern is amongst the oldest and most famous DC Comics characters, it seems his reputation isn’t as prominent outside of America; I’ve heard plenty of people say “Who is that?” or “I’ve never heard of him” during trailers for the film. But as well as seeming fairly unknown to the British general public, it looks like the majority of film critics have got it in for him too with tons giving the picture poor reviews. Well I am a comic book geek and fully aware of the Green Lantern so does that mean I will like the film?
Cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) has his life turned upside down when he is confronted by a dying alien bearing a glowing green ring. Hal is told that the ring chose him and that he now must fulfil his destiny as part of the Green Lantern Corps – a secret brotherhood located on the planet Oa who aim to serve and protect across the galaxies. The ring allows the chosen one to create anything that can be thought giving Hal unlimited potential to what he can now achieve. However, a threat is mounting in space and on Earth with Parallax; an alien that uses fear as its energy source causing devastating effects. Now Hal and the other Lanterns must fight for their survival against an impossible enemy.
Firstly I want to address the critics; please get off your high-horses and learn to watch a film for what it is, rather than consistently comparing it to another usually superior feature. No, ‘Green Lantern’ does not have the emotional weight or the sociological grit of ‘The Dark Knight’ but it is not trying to achieve this. I am becoming increasingly irritated by the amount of irrationally poor reviews for films based upon bias and misjudgement.
Anyway, onto the review – as you can probably gather from my outburst above, I did like ‘Green Lantern’; in fact, I enjoyed it tremendously for multiple reasons. Unlike some other superhero features, it stayed very true to the original tale of Hal Jordan and how he becomes the all-green but not mean being. Rather than filling every available space with sub-plot, the narrative of the film flows along nicely. Admittedly, the story isn’t mind-bogglingly good but it’s certainly prominent enough to prove that the Lantern’s outing isn’t just a CGI festival. The film also has decent dialogue although many have criticised the script which again I’m struggling to understand why. Yes there are a few one-liners but doesn’t every Hollywood movie sport some of these? The cast all work well with the material they are given and they project the script brilliantly through their performances.
Now onto the CGI – I do agree that the film has a lot of computer imagery but I do not think this withdraws the narrative importance or the character fundamentals. Director Martin Campbell had to create a whole new world for the screen so it was fairly obvious Blue and Green-Screen technologies would be a vital asset to the big screen creation of Oa but why are people complaining about this? James Cameron had to use gallons of CGI in order to form Pandora and not many people moaned about that. But the ironic thing about ‘Green Lantern’ is that our visits to Oa are rather short so the only consistent CGI throughout the movie is plastered upon Reynolds’ chest which makes the wild complaints about the film’s spectacle even more bizarre.
|Still from 'Green Lantern' (dir: Martin Campbell, 2011)|
The film looks outstanding; it’s brightly lit, impressively well constructed and some of its action sequences are simply astonishing. I’ve never been a big fan of CG-heavy films but this is certainly an exception to the rule. Hal’s adventure has to be witnessed on the biggest possible screen one can locate.
Personally, the only rational explanation I can think of for the mass-hatred this film has suffered is due to the lack of knowledge. Unlike the majority of Marvel Heroes which every average Joe knows, DC characters need to be studied before they can be appreciated fully and understood thus giving a false impression that Marvel is the ‘superior’ studio because they are more ‘accessible’. The Green Lantern operates through imagination, creativity and intrigue; Hal’s powers are an extension of himself rather than what defines him. If he can think it, he can create it, but he must be focused - he doesn’t just run around causing big green mayhem for the sake of it.
But underneath the glowing green race tracks and giant fists lies a bunch of decent and faithful performances, particularly from Reynolds who has gone from zero to hero in my estimation after his recent cinematic outings. He’s proven his talents in ‘Buried’ and ‘Adventureland’ and he continues to impress as Hal. His confidence and boastful attitude is comic and strangely endearing rather than repugnant and he carries the film with ease. Peter Sarsgaard is surprisingly good as Dr. Hector Hammond; a professor who is poisoned by Parallax. His performance was the one I feared most - I like Sarsgaard being himself like in ‘An Education’ but actually he did a great job as the demented villain as well as providing a wonderful impersonation of the Elephant Man. Mark Strong is very good as Sinestro but lacks mass screen time – he spends his time public speaking. Tim Robbins was a nice casting choice as Senator Hammond but again he makes fairly little impact on the feature. Finally on to Blake Lively; personally I thought she was great. She may be a typical love interest in this genre but she and Hal share some lovely moments and it’s nice to see she does have her own backbone – she doesn’t rely on Hal, she just likes him around.
I urge you not to listen to the negative reviews for ‘Green Lantern’ and see it for yourself. There’s no denying that comic books fans will gain more from Campbell’s screen adaptation, but there’s plenty to entertain all here. I found the film to be extremely exciting, action-packed and wonderfully performed, and I really couldn’t care less what Mr. Broadsheet thinks.
A perfect summer picture, a great comic book adaptation and above all else, a credible and massively entertaining Sci-Fi epic. Roll on a sequel.
By Chris Haydon
Also – make sure you stay and watch the credits as the sequel seems to be set up during them.