Canister X Movie Review #34: Green Lantern (2011)
Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg
Directed by Martin Campbell
Runtime 114 min.
3.5 out of 5
When dying alien and Green Lantern Abin Sur is discovered by brash and cocky fighter pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), Hal’s life is suddenly changed when the mysterious alien gives him a green power ring and matching lantern with vague instructions to “speak the oath.”
After finally unlocking the lantern, Hal is taken to the planet Oa where he learns he has become Abin Sur’s successor in the Green Lantern Corps and is also the first human to ever bear the powerful mantle of a Green Lantern.
As part of his training, Hal is taken under the wing of a powerful Lantern named Sinestro (Mark Strong) whose view of right and wrong is sheer black and white, and who has no trouble enforcing the law with lethal force. Turns out Sinestro wasn’t the first to feel this way as long ago one of the creators of the lantern rings—one of the Guardians of Oa—disagreed with the Oan Council and set off on his own, discovering a new power, this one the yellow power of Fear. Now the superpowered being Parallax, this former Guardian wishes to take revenge on those who banished him.
As Hal learns what it means to set aside his own pride and ego and live by the sacred Green Lantern oath—In brightest day, in blackest night . . . —he must come to grips with his newfound power and expel Parallax’s presence from the universe once and for all.
After the crazy success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Warner Brothers and DC Comics were in big need of another hit after Superman Returns failed to deliver at the box office, and so they went to another DC hero: Green Lantern. Good choice. He’s a kind of Superman/Batman hybrid in that Hal Jordan is human and has the qualities and struggles thereof like Bruce Wayne, and yet by wielding his power ring, his superpowers get up there right alongside the Last Son of Krypton in many ways. Whether this was Warners’ reasoning or not, I don’t know—probably not—but GL was certainly a good character to try and take to the big screen, especially since it had never been done before.
In a nutshell, the movie wasn’t bad. I liked it. It didn’t change my life, but it’s not the piece of garbage many folks make it out to be. It covered Hal Jordan’s transformation into Green Lantern, delivered awesome effects, created a sense of atmosphere both about the Green Lantern Corps and Oa, and came through on telling a simple story that got Hal Jordan from Point A to B in a reasonable amount of time.
People complained there wasn’t enough action or not enough stuff on Oa—but those kinds of things aren’t—and weren’t—supposed to be the focus of this movie. It was about getting the ring into Hal’s hands and teaching him the ol’ Uncle Ben motto of “With great power comes great responsibility.”
I like how it took time to get Hal used to using the ring and it wasn’t a case of him putting it on and suddenly becoming an expert on creating green light constructs. And once he figured it out, I enjoyed how his constructs were simple—the racetrack, machine guns, etc.—as opposed to something crazy or way too technical. Why? Put yourself in his shoes. You’d probably construct something you’re more comfortable with than trying to create some big complicated airship stocked with robot soldiers with a zillion weapons and stuff.
The love story between Hal and Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) seemed forced though it did provide a nice bridge between the realm of Oa and Earth. Clearly this relationship was introduced for sequel purposes because those who know the comics know Carol Ferris becomes the supervillain Star Sapphire down the line.
I think in the end, Green Lantern did its job. Could it have been better? Sure. Could it have been worse? Yup.
Regardless, I like popping this movie into the player from time to time, and if you’re a superhero fan, you should, too.