Green Lantern looks like a big cartoon, but it’s a really cool cartoon. What can you do when all the environments and most of the main characters are CGI? It’s bright, sharp and detailed (well, it won’t be bright if you see the 3D version).
The film opens with an explanation of the guardians and will power constructs. There’s still no other way to explain this crazy mythology than flat out exposition. A little more is explained as Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) trains on Oa so he’s ready to fight the Parallax, a creature using fear as its power source.
The will power constructs are intricate and clever. That’s really the victory of creative screenwriting, to say “instead of just green energy blasts, what temporary devices could we use to have this guy beat that guy?” Even constructs as simple as swords are meaningful as an homage to the classical duel.
A thrilling air sequence spells out Hal’s personality. His rogue tactics are cool in a training exercise, since it’s hypothetical. Wouldn’t be so cool if real lives were at risk. It spells out all the conflicts between fearless Hal and by the books Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), but it’s a fun Bruckheimer style Top Gun sequence.
It’s simple fun. That’s okay, but we do like our superheroes to have a little metaphor. Jordan ultimately gets to the value of admitting fear, but it really stays on the surface of the whole will vs. fear debate. Maybe in the sequel. It’s more fun than Thor, because the constructs are just more fun to watch than big dudes hitting each other.
I was worried that Green Lantern would be inaccessible since it’s all in space with aliens. If anything, the movie spends too much time on earth. There’s not much epic space battle at all. The rescues and battles on earth are fine but the “character” scenes sort of force contrived human moments in there. They want to have fun with the powers and be romantic, but it feels like screenplay template.
Maybe the biggest component that’s missing is that earth really has no say in this. Hal decides whether or not to join the guardians and the guardians debate sacrificing earth to Parallax, but earth never speaks up. Earth doesn’t even know what’s going on? They see a few disasters but that’s just a reaction shot while other forces control the plot of the film. Hal doesn’t even get to experience the superhero phenomenon, since nobody he rescues really comments on it.
So Green Lantern doesn’t make me a comic book fan, but as a “superhero saves the world” movie, it’s fun. Sinestro (Mark Strong) brings it, lending gravitas to the formula. Hector (Peter Sarsgaard) is the typical mad scientist with new power, but Sarsgaard makes him really weird and uncomfortable to watch. The film is a mixed bag, but the joyful spectacle wins out.