Movies / Comics Movie Reviews

Green Lantern a DC Movie

By Andy Frisk
June 18, 2011 - 19:12

Green Lantern (2011) has been panned almost universally by the critics. One glance over Rotten Tomatoes Green Lantern page says it all: “Assembled from bits and pieces of other of other superhero yarns… this one stands out for its egregious shoddiness…That the super villain resembles nothing so much as a giant tentacled dust-bunny with teeth does nothing to make it strike fear in the hearts of the audience.” None of these critics get the point though that, whether DC Comics and Warner Bros. planned it this way or not (surely they’ll claim they did), Green Lantern is a film that is almost strictly for the fans of, and pays homage to, the past 10 years of the Geoff Johns revitalized Green Lantern comic books. If you’re a comic book reader who hasn’t read a Green Lantern Family book since before Green Lantern: Rebirth, you’ll probably figure your way through the plot and get the point. If you’re not a comic book reader, but a superhero aficionado, you might get intrigued by what you’re seeing on screen even though you’re probably lost. If you’re just a casual moviegoer, you’ll probably not only be lost, but be in a hurry to get out of the theatre. If you’re a Geoff Johns/Green Lantern: Rebirth/Sinestro Corps War fan…well, you might end up feeling like you’ve died and gone to heaven during the film.


There’s a problem though. Green Lantern is meant to be the launching pad for a bevy of sequels, spin-offs, and most importantly, Green Lantern is meant to set up a market for more DC Comics heroes-to-film adaptations. Many of these heroes are being rebooted in a few months—some into characters most comic book readers (not to mention long term DC Comics fans) will not even recognize, and DC Comics is taking what many interpret to be a desperate gamble. It appears the folks at DC Comics, DC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. are in a gamble taking mood. Green Lantern relies upon the fact that EVERYONE who read Green Lantern: Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War are going to flock en masse to this film, and whether or not the casual moviegoer does or not is of little consequence to the film’s profitability. By making a film that so specifically relates to and emulates a series of comic book stories less than a decade old is either a brilliant, fan directed, stroke of genius, or an incredible blunder that just happened to not blow up in their faces. In order to launch a new franchise, one must have a huge and ready fan base, a la Harry Potter and the Bazillion Movie Sequels, or make the character, however widely and generally recognized, appeal to the character’s fans AND those who probably wouldn’t care a bit about the character, but will go along to see the movie with their fan friend. Green Lantern doesn’t really accomplish the latter.


As mentioned though, Green Lantern is a dream come true for long term and short term/Geoff Johns era Green Lantern fans. The green hard light power constructs are beautifully brought to life. The members of The Green Lantern Corps, in all their intergalactic and extra-terrestrial glory, are brought to life just as beautifully. If you are a reader of the Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern tales, you’re going to love spotting cameos by the likes of Lantern Bzzd and a host of others. When the Sinestro Corps’ fear symbol shows up (pretty early on), you’re also going to probably freak out. When you see Parallax, you’re going to be blown away, as the film version of the Entity of Fear looks even better and more frightening (at least conceptually) than he does in the comic book. If you’ve never read any of the Geoff Johns Green Lantern books, you’re going to think that Parallax is a stupid looking “giant tentacled dust-bunny with teeth,” that the cool cameo appearing Green Lantern Corps members that feature prominently in the Geoff Johns Green Lantern comic books are Star Wars cantina rip offs, and that the Sinestro Corps symbol (or more accurately: Symbol of Fear) is silly and over complicated. Unfortunately, the above mentioned friend who goes along to see the move with their fan friend will probably not get much out of the film, unless they are in love with Ryan Reynolds or Blake Lively.


Both of which do every thing they can to salvage the film for non Green Lantern fans and accomplish a great deal towards giving these non Green Lantern fans, who got dragged along to see the film, something to look at. I, as a fan of the Geoff Johns Green Lantern comic books, was very skeptical of Reynolds in the role of Hal Jordan. Nearly everything that Reynolds does is either incredibly funny, like his turn as Hannibal King in Blade Trinity, or surprisingly good, like his performance in Buried, but my question was is he too funny to play the sometime brooding Hal Jordan? Happily, he pulls it off. He brings the necessary humor to his predicament while displaying the seriousness that Hal Jordan ends up feeling towards his role as savior of the world. He also manages to pull off the “frightened on the inside type,” who learns to face his fear and eventually overcome it, quite well. Lively brings as much life to the role as Carol Ferris as she can. There’s not much to work with, but for the Green Lantern fans out there who are aware of her future as a type of ringslinger herself…well, let’s just say that there is more for her to work with down the road. Perhaps the strongest performance is turned in by Peter Sarsgaard as the tortured, but the originally well meaning, Hector Hammond. Hammond is a long term Green Lantern villain whom Sarsgaard portrays not unlike (but not as profoundly) as Tom Hiddleston portrayed Loki in Thor. Mark Strong brings the necessary arrogance mixed with confidence that defines Sinestro, the current Greatest Green Lantern, although unless you know his back story, you won’t really understand why this pretentious ass is such an apparently bad ass member of the Green Lantern Corps. None of his character history is explored, beyond the fact that he was Abin Sur’s best friend…Abin Sur being the dying Green Lantern who bequeathed his ring to Jordan—well, bequeathed isn’t exactly the word…you see the ring, which has a sentient being behind its process of selection actually conducts the selection process on its own, the rings aren’t living beings, but are able to discern what in a living being constitutes the “ability to overcome great fear”…I’ve lost you non GL fans haven’t I? Herein is where the fatal commercial flaw in the film becomes apparent. Too much must be assumed to be understood by the casual fan, and too much is too complicated for the casual fan to be bothered with.

Humans stink...but Green Lantern the movie doesn't...if you're a fan.

Again, Green Lantern succeeds massively on a fan reaction scale, but the ones that you really want to like this film (and flock to see it), the casual filmgoer, aren’t really going to be able to get into it, nor the film’s potential sequels. This is sad though. The Green Lantern corner of the DCU is one that is ripe with just as much, if not more, poignancy and creativity than the Star Wars universe. It’s just a little harder to make the Green Lantern corner of the universe more easily appealing on a wider scale.


Rating: 9 /10

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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