Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgard
Director Martin Campbell
Released August 11
After hearing so many bad things about Green Lantern from the US, when it finally came to Australia we were nervous, yet hopeful. Perhaps Australian sensibilities would be different, and one of the all time comic book greats may not have arrived on the big screen as a big stinking mess.
Sadly, America and Australia are not so different, in many ways.
We both spot a 'story by committee' a mile off, we both can see where a movie combines cost-cutting with storytelling in an obvious way, we both can see when something crosses the line from 'comic book' to 'cheesy' and 'obvious' to 'painful' and 'tongue-in-cheek' to 'self-parody'.
Ultimately, the Green Lantern is a comic book movie for 10 year old boys, unversed in psychological subtlety and the vagaries of romance. They won't be disappointed in the fact that Ryan Reynolds gets to use his particular talents (beyond his abs) for more than thirty seconds in the film. He is constrained by a character that is set on rails - sometimes, in the superhero game, that works, but in a world where superhero films and Sci Fi films are becoming increasingly sophisticated and entertaining, well, Green Lantern just doesn't make the grade.
It fails, largely, in comparison. Left in a bubble of pure comic-bookness, it's not THAT horrible. It combines a faithful approach to much of the many canons of Green Lantern lore, which is a giant pain for the script writing teams. That said, the result, by being a mish mash, is a miss mess, with entertaining moments.
The CGI has some brilliant moments, and then there are others that are sketchy, to say the least. Expensive scenes and what seem to be hastily reshot scenes sit awkwardly side by side. Characters' motivations are often at their most basic, and sometimes beyond that, breaking the logic barrier and sinking any efforts the audience may have put in suspending their disbelief and becoming emotionally involved with what's happening on screen.
Good points, though. While the CGI has some patchy moments - it has some truly impressive moments. Parallax on Earth is an extraordinary achievement on the big screen in 3-D - a 'solid smoke' entity of solid fear-inducing evil. He may not actually induce fear, but he looks cool.
Mark Strong, as Sinestro, proves himself once again to be one of the great actors of the modern era, emerging through a nightmare of truncated, 'on the nose' dialogue with sincerity and career intact. As a pointy eared, porn-moustached red alien, he really manages to pull it off. That's impressive.
Combining his efforts with that of Peter Sarsgard, who, at the beginning of his performance, shows more menace and creepiness than when he's in full 'possessed by the power of fear' makeup, makes one wonder what might have been if the film had been kept on a more sophisticated level.
Sadly, Ryan Reynolds, the likeable star, and Blake Lively, who has shown she can act in films like 'The Town' are given no chance to shine; unless not bursting into embarrassed laughter when the cheese factor hits 'stinky cheddar' is a skill (on second thoughts, yes, it is - kudos you two). It's their 'romance' elements, seemingly written by a squeamish 14 year old boy, that really sink the Green Lantern as a big screen experience for people yearning for something more.
The outlandish idea, of will creating form, which is the heart of Green Lantern's power, is of course, used, but it's the lack of imagination, ironically, that also drags the film down.
Green Lantern as a character, is born out of pure wish fulfilment. What if anything I thought up, became real? A giant fist to punch bad guys?, yes! that kind of thing. One of the reasons that Green Lantern retained his popularity over the years was the outlandishness of the imagination used by Hal Jordan when fighting evil. Exploding off the page, the silliest things became the saviour of the day. In one sequence, the film touches on this, but there are so many missed opportunities, where the film could have taken the audience beyond the expected, which is exactly, if you're signing up to a film about a test pilot who becomes a space cop, where you want to go.
There is a sequel planned, and one can only hope that the machine that created this film becomes a bit more streamlined and that a single voice can emerge, giving us a Green Lantern experience we can (dis)believe in.