Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight was the best, and worst thing to happen to superhero movies in the past decade. The new Green Lantern movie, currently playing in theaters is a prime example of that.
Now, cool your experimental fighter jets before you jump to conclusions.
I really liked Green Lantern. I might not find the audience it needs to garnet a sequel, which is a sad thing indeed, but it really should.
Green Lantern told the origin story deftly. For everyone who says, “I’m tired of origin stories!” let me remind you, Green Lantern does not have a well known history. The details of who he is, where he comes from, all of that is necessary to inform the character. You can’t count on the 200 Green Lantern fans in the world to be the only ones who know that going in.
The direction was sharp, kept the pace moving, and most importantly, got out of it’s own way. There were moments of true menace, and bits that could have been confusing in less talented hands really pulled through here. The bits on Oa have been getting a lot of mention, and yes, they’re fantastic. A bit cartoony, but hell, they’re computer generated and highly fantastical, so I’ll allow that. They do what they need to do.
Let’s talk design, yes design. Ferris Aircraft has this great art deco look, with gorgeous details in the building facade and interiors. It evokes the Rocketeer and the spirit of adventure I think of with ballsy aviators like Hal Jordan. It gave the film heart.
On to the cast. Four performances really shown through for me. Ryan Reynolds rocked this part. I never doubted his heart, his sincerity, his fear once. Mark Strong as Sinestro brought the thunder. Honestly, I’ll watch anything this man is in at this point. He’s outstanding. Likewise with the vulnerable, obsessive, and ultimately unhinged Peter Sarsgaard. His portrayal of Hector Hammond was spot on. I liked him early on, sympathized with this poor science teacher in over his head, falling victim to his fears of never living up to his dad’s expectations. Finally, Taika Waititi as Tom, the good friend and lab tech at Ferris Aircraft. It’s a small part, but I enjoyed every minute he was on screen. I want to see him in more things.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t love Green Lantern. It wasn’t a perfect movie. And it wasn’t Dark Knight. But why should it have to be? Do you remember when that first Spider-Man movie came out a few years ago? Do you remember the state of superhero movies before then? Superman IV, or Steel, the Punisher, or Captain America from 1990? Superhero movies sucked. They were an embarrassment, made by callous studios trying to turn a quick buck off a known property. It wasn’t until Spider-Man that they trusted someone who loved the property to do what he felt was right.
And a new era of action films was born, peaking, some would say, with The Dark Knight. But as wonderful as The Dark Night was, it wasn’t fun. Comic books used to be fun. Hell, some of the better ones still are. Not everyone who puts on a cape is grim and gritty. And that’s a good thing.
And by gods, Green Lantern was fun. Everything clicked. For what it was trying to do, for the movie it was trying to be, I think Green Lantern hit all the right notes. My recommendation would be to see it in theaters if you like superhero films at all. It won’t have the same impact on the small screen (but will still entertain). But save the money and see it in traditional 2D if you get the chance.
In a year that has already given us the superlative Thor and X-Men First Class, this is a welcome addition. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the haters and took a chance instead.