The Culture Beat

June 26, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

Filed under: Comics,Movies,Uncategorized — Alex @ 9:00 pm


This won’t take too long–most critics found Warner Brothers’ latest attempt to exploit another character from their DC Comics’ stable into a franchise that would earn them lots of, er, green, to be too conventional and comic book fans found it bad storytelling with messed up motivations and arbitrary plot moves. I wasn’t expecting much since the trailers didn’t successfully intrigue and Ryan Reynolds in the lead seemed like bad casting. More about that later, but the real reason I was cool to the idea was that Green Lantern doesn’t translate well to blockbuster mode.

Let me explain: I’ve read the Green Lantern title and others over the last two or three years in order to follow two epic narratives by Geoff Johns: “The Sinestro Corps. War” and later, “Blackest Night.” The first story was pretty great comic book storytelling with beautiful art telling of an intergalactic war started by classic bad guy Sinestro using fear as his driving force behind his army’s yellow power rings. The Blackest Night storyline was basically a DC Zombies epic as members of newly discovered multi-colored ring corp representing other emotions strove mightily to get through what was to me a very convoluted story. A few months after the event, I gave up on the Green Lantern titles; I discovered that all that time spent with this large cast didn’t make me care about them any more.

The biggest problem I think is that, when it comes down to it, the idea of an army with power rings who can fight evil by forming giant fly swatters or cannons belongs more to a young boy’s imagination than to a popular blockbuster film designed for a broad audience. When my wife and I finished watching the movie, she said, “This idea of green power rings is great if you’re an eight-year old boy.” Uh-huh. I’m afraid the biggest problem though, is the main character, Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern from Earth and the main character. Since his beginning in the DC Universe’s early Silver Age of the late 1950s, Hal greatest strength was his character design. Drawn by comic book artist legend Gil Kane, who had used the young Paul Newman as the basis for Hal Jordan, his simple, elegantly designed green corps uniform (with white gloves, by the way) and super science origins, always looked cool as he flew in a way no other superhero did. But Hal, essentially, a space cop, never had much of a personality and thus, after Marvel’s revolutionary injection of conflict into their stable of characters, Hal Jordan looked sort of bland. In fact, DC realized this in the 90s and had Hal, driven over the edge by the destruction of his home town, become a power mad supervillain which eventually resulted in his destruction. And as we know from experience, no hero in comics stays dead for long. A few years ago, Johns came up with a resurrection scheme to bring back Jordan, much to fans’ happiness. But though Johns added a more complex backstory to Jordan’s life, he’s still the stoic, and sometimes brusque cop on the beat–but as drawn, he looks cool, if dull.

And that’s not enough to carry a movie, even with Reynold’s charm and the artificial imparting of a reluctant hero arc in the movie, he’s not the compelling character you need to carry a franchise that DC, despite the film’s disappointing debut, still plans to continue with a planned sequel–which sounds like backwards logic. So, maybe it will take place on Bizarro World.

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