Tuesday 21 June 2011


(Martin Campbell, 2011)

Much as fanboys like to bitch online about movie adaptations not remaining faithful enough to original comic material, some super-hero movies are evidence of just why it's necessary to alter a few details to make a more successful movie. Martin Campbell's big, generic, over-familiar Green Lantern being one. It's extremely faithful to the details of the DC Comics character whose adventures it is based upon. And that's a big part of the problem.
Instead of streamlining the mythology, Green Lantern tries to fit too much in and ends up skimming over the surface of most of the harder sci-fi material, giving the sequences where our hero travels to the base-planet of the
Lantern Corps for a crash course in superheroing no dramatic weight and far less impact than they deserve. This is a Superhero who should carry a degree of awe when he appears. As the film tells us repeatedly, the ring is the most powerful weapon in the universe, capable of creating whatever the bearer can imagine, yet all Hal Jordan can come up with are big guns, giant race tracks, a massive fist and fighter jets. This is symptomatic of the lack of imagination displayed throughout. The scenes where he learns to use the ring play just like the instructional levels from a video game, and the rigorous adherence to a three act structure makes for a more predictable and forgettable narrative than is necessary.
Some scenes appear copied from Superman and Spider-Man, only less effectively delivered, and the central conflict - Jordan's reluctance to become a super-hero because he might not be good enough - makes a bore of our protagonist and wastes much of Ryan Reynolds' easy charm. The climax is perfunctory, even lazy, and characters - Jordan's family, bafflingly introduced in one scene apparently to humanise such a selfish hero, together with a criminally wasted Angela Bassett as a Government Scientist - disappear from the story without explanation.
There are good things. Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard are both working in a different, better film, Dion Beebe's photography glows when it's not lost in a CGI murk, and the effects are generally splendid.
But in a world where Super-hero films with the ambition and range of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and Brad Bird's The Incredibles exist, that's not enough.

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