With Marvel out-numbering this summer's superhero flicks 3-to-1, DC Comics is hoping their emerald guardian can take a piece of the action. Unfortunately, Green Lantern joins the comic book-heavy box-office without a necessary ingredient: a script. The film tries to compensate for the lack of story and trick audiences with the wit of its star Ryan Reynolds and oversaturating the screen with CGI.
Those as unfamiliar with this comic book hero as I am, just bear with me for the film's set up. An imprisoned villain who is powered by the fear of others, known as Parallax, is awoken and escapes after years of dormancy. Parallax goes after the Green Lantern Corps who imprisoned him, destroying everything in the universe in his path. The members of the Green Lantern Corps are individuals without fear that make up an intergalactic police force using the powers harnessed from Willpower, the opposite of Parallax's fear. After the death of the Corps' finest guardian, Abin Sur, his Green Lantern ring selects a human to be his successor in the flawed Hal Jordan.
Green Lantern is probably the most 'comic-bookie' superhero movie to come out in recent years, meaning its premise won't be anything as grounded as Nolan's Batman films. It deals with a section of the DC universe that is predominantly about aliens and other worlds. As well as the extraordinary abilities that come with being a Green Lantern member, it's obviously not going to be as believable as, say, using some new tech from Wayne Enterprises. Not all comic book-to-movie franchises will be able sync with the real world because most comics have such rich imaginative story arcs that are a lot easier to contain in 32 pages than the average 120 minutes on screen. Green Lantern tries to be the exception, but fails because its focus is on effects, not characters and story.
Going into this film barely knowing anything about this comic book character, my expectations were low and my slate was clear. Green Lantern did live up to my expectations, but only because I put the bar pretty low. Obviously, the Green Lantern is a very different type of superhero, so I went into the film thinking it wasn't going to be anything like The Dark Knight, but something similar to those Fantastic Four films. And that's exactly what this Green Lantern film is: a combination of bad special effects, comic book humour, and an unrelatable villain. Don't get me wrong, this may be exactly the type of Green Lantern film fans of the comics are looking for in this classic DC character's silver screen debut, but the movie as a whole just doesn't work.
Green Lantern's most obvious fault might be the overuse of CGI, but the real problem lies with film's second act. To be blunt, it's because it doesn't have one. The movie does an okay job introducing this different side of the DC universe to the audience in the opening act of the film. Then, in the final act, there is the predicable good guy versus bad guy action sequence (that isn't very impressive by the way) to round out everything and solve the problem introduced in the film's first act. The problem is, for a movie that is almost near the 2-hour mark, there is nothing in the middle of the film to bring the story along. The closest thing to a second act the movie has is the scenes between Reynolds and Blake Lively that try to create some kind of romance. Both actors are capable of a lot better, but because the poor script -- or lack thereof -- they are both pretty much subjected to looking good in front of the camera rather than actually forming a believable connection.
The biggest disappointment with the film was that at times it seemed like it was a total rip-off of Top Gun. It had everything from Hal mentally freezing up in his fighter jet over the memory of his dead father, to him serenading Lively's character in an Air Force bar. The only things missing were Goose, Iceman, and some Kenny Loggins on the soundtrack. Now, I could also complain about how poorly of a disguise Reynolds is given to help protect his real identity, but that's just the kind of semantics that comes with character. Green Lantern will find its audience with young kids and teenagers, but everyone else will see right through the effects and this poorly-disguised summer blockbuster.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.