lWritten by: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, Michael Goldenberg
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett
A studio still trying to expand its footing in the superhero genre, an overcalculation of a star’s appeal, and just a poorly executed film can be said for many films based on comic books. Luckily the deluge of these films allows ones like Green Lantern to disappear from the conversation. The way this has seemingly disappeared from the cultural conscience almost makes me laugh, as it has the horrid quality to match.
Working as a pilot of fighter jets following the tragic ending of his father’s life, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) takes unnecessary risks but shows incredible bravery. This ultimately attracts the ring from a fallen member of the Green Lantern Corps, which appears to Jordan and he must now learn how to fight using this ring, which serves as a challenge amidst a looming threat approaching Earth.
Not every superhero needs to find their way on the big screen, I promise it’s going to be okay. Bringing this character to the multiplexes always presented its challenges because of the legwork it needed to present in order to establish an entire Green Lantern Corp and then establishing what makes Hal Jordan a worthy choice to continue in the tradition. Plenty for a film to handle and this iteration of this story does not work even in the slightest. As artificial as one could possibly imagine, nothing in this film feels earned, and when the big villain comes in the shape of a large cloud, it just has nothing going for it.
The main thematic battle flowing through this feature comes between the push and pull of courage and fear and how the former becomes desirable for the Corp while the latter demonstrates weakness. This becomes Hal’s ultimate journey of growth throughout but this allegory feels so rudimentary in its approach, it becomes boring and incredibly uninteresting as a result. It feels like an after-school special teaching these aliens, it’s okay to be afraid at times. If it stayed in this simplicity, I suppose the narrative could be enjoyable to some extent, but then fear becomes a weapon some try to utilize and when they do, they become evil. The theme and the narrative function of fear almost comes at opposing ideas when inconsistencies arise from how this fear impacts people. Overall, it appears to come from a good idea but the execution just falls flat on its face.
By far, the most ridicule this film receives is from the CGI suit of the Green Lantern Corp and how silly it looks on Hal Jordan. Definitely an unforced error on the film’s part where they take the expensive route in animation rather than putting on a simple black and green suit on the guy. Heck, it can even appear in the same way, but making this outfit look this artificial does not help a film already losing any sort of grounded stakes for these characters. However, the best part of his suit and probably of the entire film comes from when love interest, Carol (Blake Lively) first sees Jordan in his suit and mask only to immediately recognize him. Some superhero movies continually waffle over with reasons why a piece of cloth would serve as any sort of disguise for Jordan, especially from someone who has known him all his life. The brightest spot, even if a very small one.
Green Lantern attempts to establish some semblance of stakes on Earth and at the Corp but all of it feels half-baked as it becomes more about fighting this evil cloud floating through space. On Earth, it becomes about Hal’s relationship with Carol and how her father wants to get some contract for fighter jets. Hopelessly dull, but out in space everything also loses any sort of stakes because nothing gets established and does not carry intrigue as a whole. It barely answers questions as to what this Corp does and why we should care of Jordan’s reticent admittance into it. The attempt in establishing the stakes got felt, but it became obvious, this feature needed more refinement in what it actually wanted to be rather than setting up a franchise, we all know what they were going for there.
Between the greatness of the Nolan Batman films and the current iteration of the DCEU, the different attempts of launching a superhero universe at Warner Bros certainly had its rough spots with this one being the crown jewel. Taking a character with plenty of mythology and popularity amongst the comic book readers but whatever they took from the source material and put on screen did not really stick. It utilizes emotion as a weapon and weakness, which somehow runs contradictory with its overall theme. We can just forget Green Lantern happened, just like most people involved with its production except for ridicule by its lead star years later in another franchise.