Movie Review: Green Lantern

“Green Lantern” on IMDB

Action, 114 Minutes, 2011

I’m surprised at the vitriol that reviewers seem to have for this film.  Could the entire industry just have been having a bad day?  Because the movie, while far from the best thing ever, is also very far from the worst.  One of the criticisms that I continually hear is that it’s too “formula” or “clichéd”.  Of course it is: DC Comics invented the formula!  The Green Lantern was created over 60 years ago – doing the source material any justice at all means painting-by-the-numbers to at least some extent.

Like all origin-stories the film does sometimes get bogged down in the back-story.  There’s a good reason why “The Dark Knight” was better than “Batman Begins”: we could focus completely on the story because our hero had already been established.  “Spiderman 2”, “Iron Man 2”, “Superman 2”: all cleaner, more engaging stories than the originals.

Like “Batman” this film focuses on a villain that’s virtually unknown outside of the comics and stages the more-well-known Sinestro for the inevitable sequel.  I liked how Sinestro was handled; we see his drive, his passion and his hunger for greatness.  He was also, it should be obvious, the focus of the now-mandatory post-credits teaser.

The actual threat, Parallax, was done well enough but squeezed by the origin story it lacked depth.   It was effective enough but ultimately a generic, forgettable threat meant more to frame Hal Jordan’s personal conflicts than have and real personality of its own.

Although the main themes are serious there’s a lot of fun here.  In one of my favorite scenes the newly made Green Lantern is surprised when his love interest recognizes him despite his mask.  “We’ve known each other since we were kids, Hal.” she explains, “did you really think I wouldn’t recognize you because I can’t see your cheekbones?!”  The scenes where Hal is in combat training were also very nicely done (if brief) and not just because I’m a big Kilowog fan.

Basically Green Lantern is going to appeal to people along the same lines as most other adaptations.  If you’re already a fan of the comics then I think you’ll be happy enough – they could have done better, as always, but there was clear respect for the source and that’s all you can really ask for.  Action and effects fans may not find as much here to fawn over as there’s really nothing that hasn’t been done before.  Everything is competent and the sheer number of effects shots is impressive but there’s just no breaking of new ground.

Bottom line is as a fan of the comics, I liked it.  As somebody who’s never read the comics my 12 year-old son liked it.  Criticisms can be made but the amount that I’ve been hearing?  I just don’t see it.

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