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Green Lantern (2011)

Josh Reviews Green Lantern!

Well, we’ve had two very solid super-hero films so far this summer, Thor (click here for my review) and X-Men: First Class (click here for my review), and while neither were quite as perfect as I might have hoped, I found both to be very solidly entertaining films.  But with Green Lantern, sadly, we have our first big super-hero swing-and-a-miss of the summer.

Green Lantern isn’t terrible, and there are certainly a lot of things that work in the film.  But it’s very, very mediocre, and it’s painful to see the potential for a much better film that was squandered.

What works?  The film is, for the most part, well-cast.  Ryan Reynolds does a fine job as Hal Jordan.  He certainly looks the part, and there are moments (such as his desperate, through-gritted-teeth declaration of the Green Lantern oath late in the film) that really made me believe in him as Green Lantern.  The voice actors chosen to portray the alien members of the GL Corps (most notably Geoffrey Rush as Tomar Re and Michael Clarke Duncan as Killowog) are spot-on, and Mark Strong is absolute perfection as Sinestro.

But all are completely wasted in the film!  Let’s begin with Hal Jordan, who is barely a character.  The film wants him to be Tony Stark from Iron Man (the self-centered asshole with incredible abilities who eventually learns to see beyond himself and his own ego to become a hero), but his character arc is so barely sketched in as to be laughable.  It all seemed very predictable and perfunctory to me.  I never felt that we really got to know Hal Jordan at all — who he is and why he behaves the way he does.  (And, no, the painfully on-the-nose flashback during Hal’s test flight at the start of the film didn’t do it for me.  That sequence seemed right out of Airplane!, and that’s not a good thing!)  When he stepped into the role of a hero, it didn’t feel earned the way that Tony Stark’s transition did in the first Iron Man film.

Speaking of Iron Man, the whole vibe of Green Lantern felt totally derivative of that film.  The movie desperately wanted to be hip and cool while also telling a fairly earnest super-hero story, just like the first Iron Man, but Green Lantern was never able to find that tone.

I had thought, from the trailers, that Green Lantern was going to be a cosmic adventure film.  That the film opens in space, and keeps cutting back to events taking place in space (rather than starting with human Hal Jordan and staying with him until he discovered Abin … [continued]