Pro: Green Lantern is a giddy burst of possibility for me. DC Comics’ most clever creation seemed incapable of film translation in the past. One of the most unusual superheroes ever to grace the spinner rack couldn’t exist properly prior to the cutting-edge animation that this summer’s blockbuster is rolling out. The very nature of Hal Jordan’s powers, the alien ring that allows him to generate and shape an emerald energy field, places him squarely outside the box of typical superheroics. While Jordan shares many of the alien touchstones of the Superman mythos his story is more human and yet more epic. He’s a simple human with a job, that of policing Space Sector 2814, and an entire universe of threats alien and Earthly to contend with. Finally the technical capability of film has made this world possible.
Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro) is an able hand at action adventure and the cast is peppered with strong actors (Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong). Reynolds, mostly known for his comedic efforts, capably displayed his serious acting chops in last year’s solo thriller Buried and appears on the verge of superstardom.
Look, Green Lantern isn’t going to be The Bicycle Thief, so don’t pre-judge it as such. Likewise it’s not aiming for the gritty neo-noir superhero a la The Dark Knight. What it will be is an unbounded adventure across space. Enemies will be writ large, crushing buildings with yellow laser beam arms while an intergalactic police force that knows no fear battles them in the streets and between the stars. Reynolds’ Hal Jordan, not unlike Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man, is meant to be a weak man who grows into the duties thrust upon him.
It’s going to take a lot more than enthusiasm to resurrect this dude, which let’s be honest, is DOA. Enthusiasm is what brought us Jonah Hex, and look where that got us. No, your apologist nerd-boy excuses for the green train wreck coming to theaters near you holds no more weight than what is sure to be Ryan Reynolds’ foolish attempts to give this character the gravitas it needs to succeed. Green Lantern is silly (sorry, comics dorks). and coating this film with a thick layer of George Lucas-style CGI will only enhance the cartoon nature of a character that should never have made it beyond the Saturday morning cartoons.
Con: A friend of mine described Green Lantern the movie as a guy strapped to the front of a truck and driven into a wall. Nice. To understand the epic nature of this FAIL, you only have to go as far as the trailers; the overblown CGI is laughably bad and Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the most famous incarnation of Green Lantern, is preposterous.
I’m not going to bore you with a Green Lantern history lesson, and I’m not even arguing canon here. But the weakness of this movie, frankly, is... well, Green Lantern. A test pilot is given a ring with superpowers and becomes a member of an intergalactic police force. Not any dumber, I guess, than a blind guy with a billy club or an undead guy who rides a motorcycle on fire. The difference, though, is that Green Lantern has always been goofy. Hal Jordan made giant fists with his ring, or anvils to hit the bad guys with. He was like the Wile E. Coyote of D.C.
The only hope of success this movie had was to present the mythology seriously, and that is impossible for someone of Reynolds’, um, “talents.”
Further ensuring the dismal disaster of this movie is director Martin Campbell. You may remember him from the worst James Bond movie (Golden Eye), the worst movie about Zorro (The Legend of Zorro), the worst movie about mountaineering (Vertical Limit) and the worst Angelina Jolie movie you’ve never seen (Beyond Borders). That’s an astounding record of badness. Prepare to add one more to that list with Green Lantern.
Granted, Reynolds hasn’t been anchoring the serious fare that might enable him to center the sprawling zaniness of the Green Lantern canon. But it is his witty charisma that they are shooting for here. Reynolds’ Hal Jordan will inevitably be a cocky fighter jock, a la Tom Cruise in Top Gun, who must come to terms with the responsibilites he inherits. That is a good emotional arc and I think Reynolds has the chops to pull it off. Campbell is far from the stumblebum director you unfairly paint him as. His Golden Eye was lauded as the Bond franchise’s return to quality and when that good work was squandered he resucitated it again with Casino Royale. If there was ever a director to keep Green Lantern burning brightly I’d put my money on Campbell.Con: A friend of mine described Green Lantern the movie as a guy strapped to the front of a truck and driven into a wall. Nice. To understand the epic nature of this FAIL, you only have to go as far as the trailers; the overblown CGI is laughably bad and Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the most famous incarnation of Green Lantern, is preposterous.