Review: Green Lantern

Posted by June 15, 2011 Comment

Michael Moran writes for Bleeding Cool:

Fanboys have ruined the funnybooks. And they’re ruining the movies too. I should know. I’m a fanboy.

The disposable 4-colour yarns of the Silver Age have grown into weighty and expensive Absolute Editions. And with an adult price tag comes the expectation of adult content. Everything has to be ‘dark’.

Now, I loved The Dark Knight. It’s the cinematic apotheosis of the Absolute Edition aesthetic. But I’m not going to watch it with my superhero-loving daughter for at least a decade.

What are we doing for the original comic book audience? My 8-year-old wouldn’t enjoy a Nolanverse movie, even if I let her watch one. She may well tolerate a candy coloured Schumacher Bat-flick. But I can’t.

Our narrow common ground for superhero movies is somewhere in the region of The Incredibles, the bowdlerised Ultimate Avengers animations and the much maligned ‘not dark enough’ Fantastic 4 movies.

Green Lantern is crafted from the ground up as a daft, entertaining romp that’s a hell of a lot closer to Rise of the Silver Surfer than The Dark Knight Rises.

You can get a sense of the demographic the studio might be after when the first trailer before Green Lantern is Happy Feet 2.

After the long quest for darkness in comic book movies, that’s rather refreshing. But does it work?

Well, before I start straying into spoiler territory – yes. Yes it does.

Stop reading now, if you’re trying to remain innocent of the film’s surprises despite a welter of trailers, clips and behind-the-scenes glimpses pouring into your eyeballs from every medium known to man. Come back later & let us know what you thought in the comments.

The film opens with a quick primer in Lantern lore before we’re into some kickass Top Gunnery from Hal Jordan.

Blake Lively is the movie’s sole female character – this film fails the Bechdel test almost entirely. She’s ravishing, perhaps too ravishing to convincingly portray an sassy ex-fighter pilot running an aerospace company but we’re about to watch alien space cops fighting battles using thought-controlled holograms so perhaps I should let that go.

You get another sense of the movie’s target demographic when Hal turns out to have a close relationship with his 11-year old nephew. I was worried for a moment that the kid might be popping up throughout the movie but the part is mercifully contained.

Now, the Hal Jordan I remember was kind of a straight-arrow. Nowadays it’s compulsory for every hero outside the Nolanverse to be something of an ass who gains redemption by facing up to the responsibilities of superherodom. Iron Man, Thor, Spider-man: that kind of chap. Green Lantern is not about to buck that trend.

Hal Jordan is Top Gun’s Maverick, with a dash of the Human Torch. Ryan Reynolds is likeable as the hero, and looks great in the costume. I understand that Green Lantern has a strong following among female comics readers because of his finely drawn buttocks. That following will not be disappointed by this film.

Principal villain Parallax gets a new – fairly well thought out – origin and a new look.

Imagine the same basic Galactus concept from the second Fantastic 4 movie, only not a hopeless disappointment. Peter Sarsgaard does a decent job as 2nd villain Hector Hammond. There’s something of Jeff Goldblum’s The Fly in his performance.Having Hammond in there provides a strong Earthbound subplot as a contrast to the widescreen space opera.

Oa looks lovely. The other Lanterns we see are perfect. Only Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar-Re get anything to actually do. Temuera Morrison is spot on as Abin Sur.

The effects, and the 3D, are as good as anything you will see in the cinema in 2011.

There are moments in this film that are pure Donner Superman. And I mean that in a good way. There are a lot of gags in this movie, including one sly dig at the serious kind of superhero flick that Chris Nolan is having such success with.

There’s little chance that Nolan’s films will spawn a wider, Marvel-style, movie universe for DC. Not only has Nolan himself nixed the idea, but the very nature of the scripts preclude it.

In Green Lantern, we get a sense from little things that are said that there may be other ‘mystery men’ around. And the always welcome Angela Bassett turns up as a slightly too slimline Amanda Waller.

If this film turned out to be DC’s first step into a wider world I’d be neither surprised nor disappointed.

I took my daughter to the screening. she loved it. So did I.

Green Lantern is a kids movie. But, like Star Wars, like Superman, like the Tim Burton Batman films, it’s a kid’s movie that fanboys can enjoy. If they can just lighten up a little.

(Last Updated June 15, 2011 6:00 pm )

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