Martyn reviews: Green Lantern (2011)
Superheroes, you can't miss them these days. I'm not saying that they're new to our generation, but with advances in technology and an impressive public tolerance, we the people are treated to a genre that can run its course. There is an extensive back catalogue of characters, the first tier can be spotted simply by their logos: the bat, an s, a web, an X etc. The second tier are those green lit for this summer period: a norse god and a green space cop, the latter the subject of this review.
Green lantern is a tough one. The character of Hal Jordan ran for many years, with his first appearance in 1959, in an age where the possibilities of space were almost limitless. He is undoubtably one of DC's most loved characters, but does that translate?
The film opens with some slightly rushed backstory, almost as if it has to run into the action. I actually had high hopes here, believing that this film would ignore the unrealistic story in favour of a special effects fighting extravaganza. However, throughout the film I was to be convinced otherwise. We spend most our time on Earth with one Hal Jordan, a fighter pilot with a troubled past, the first human to be chosen by the ring. He is dragged through space to Oa, the home planet of the central battery which powers the Green Lantern's rings, where he is apparently trained by other more capable lanterns, in a time of unprecedented danger, the awakening of Parallax.
Watching the film I felt that these characters were misplaced and misused. None were poorly acted, a lot of them are fan favourites, it's simply down to the limitations that the source material suffers through 'Hollywoodiaztion'. The story has gone through generations of writers, artists and fans alike as a comic series, so the expectation that one team with a bucket load of cash could breathe that energy into a 114 minute runtime is a bit extreme.
This film was never going to please everyone, a hardcore fan base isn't going to want what a new, young film audience are going to expect. If it wanted to reach one of these groups, it could have gone either of these two ways:
a) Story - the hardcore fandom approach which the public feel to be almost inaccessible. A long, slow-burner with an amazing climax, emotion and action equally true to the source material.
b) Action - an array of wonders for the eyes of both males and females, all ages. No need for complex story when you have an excuse to make absolutely anything you can imagine with a badass ring.
Green lantern however, managed to haphazardly dance it's way through the worst parts of both story and action. Characters felt weightless and written, and for the the time and cost, the effects weren't anything mind-blowing.
When you can boil down a story and sum up a character as 'simply jealous that Ryan Reynolds is sexier', you've got a problem with your writer. When villainy began, when our hero was threatened, I just didn't care. No one trained Hal, Sinestro just got upset and shown up in front of the Guardians.
The design of the planet Oa was nice, and I felt the film translation of the Guardians was a really nice touch, hell I didn't even mind the costume, it just didn't seem 'believable'. Good special effects should go unnoticed, camouflaged in the real world, but when your entire world is a shiny rendered palace of wonder, it's hard work tricking the viewer.
All in all, I felt disappointed. I sat through the film with a friend in an empty cinema, wondering why characters were acting the way they were, why the film didn't spend much time developing the story, or much time in action. All of these were answered when I realised why the cinema was empty, Green Lantern just doesn't work in film.