Green Lantern, 2011.
Directed by Martin Campbell.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Taiki Waititi, Jon Tenney, Jay O. Sanders, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan and Peter Sarsgaard.
Cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is granted cosmic super-powers to help defeat an intergalactic foe.
You know a film is in trouble when, after ten opening minutes of exposition narrative presented over average CGI images, you’re still none the wiser as to what is going on. Worse still, if the audience’s interest begins waning because what is being shown is so hurriedly put together in a mad rush to get the main story going, you know the following 90 minutes have really got to be something special to save a unmitigated disaster.
Unfortunately for Green Lantern, the latest in the seemingly never ending influx of comic-book films, the film never makes up for its lost ground. It’s not an awful film in that it tries so hard and fails, but rather in that it just doesn’t try.
This always stuck me as a film which looked to be in development hell from the first trailer. It didn’t sell the character, his powers, his role in the comic-book universe, or even why we should go see it to find out.
“Part of the reason the response to the first trailer was lukewarm was that the big-scale sequences weren’t ready to show, and we suffered for it,” said Sue Kroll, head of worldwide marketing for Warber Brothers. “We can’t afford to do that again.”
Yet many months later, and a reported $9 million to ‘fix’ the special effects, the end product still smacks of a lack of care, time, and direction. It is one of the most unadventurous big-budget films you’re likely to see. The scenes on Oa, the Lantern’s home planet, are inexcusably dull considering it is supposed to be a fantasy world. The scenes of Earth are just about as boring, though.
A complaint I often have with action films is the lack of development between the explosions and battles - but Green Lantern needs to take a lesson from the Michael Bay school of film making and at least show us where all that money went. There are two action sequences, both lifeless and pedestrian. When the hero first reveals himself to the public, the script calls for him to save a helicopter by turning it into a car on a track. Hardly enthralling stuff.
The finale is Ryan Reynolds vs a CGI cloud with a scary face in space (called Parallax for anyone who cares). But by this point it seems the whole production had ceased caring what happens and it’s all over very quickly and mercifully so. A comic-book film’s success lies in the strength of the villains and here we have the poorest excuse for a nemesis I have seen. This is a problem so many comic-book films face, and one of the key reasons why some of the Batman, Superman, and X-Men films work so well.
And so to the cast. Substituting any one actor for anther would not make Green Lantern any better, but Reynolds is the only positive you can take from the picture. He has a knowing grin and a comic timing which makes watching him as the lead character bearable, even if he’s on auto-pilot throughout. Blake Lively is out of her depth amongst the big production, and Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett aren’t even trying as the script is beneath both of their talents.
For director Martin Campbell, this should hopefully be his first and last attempt at handling mass CGI. He can be an excellent director of action and thrills as Goldeneye, Casino Royale, and Edge Of Darkness proved, but I fear he lost all control on Green Lantern from the beginning. Hopefully his next picture will feature only human characters.
Warner Brothers reportedly hired a writer in June 2010 to start work on a sequel. That writer should find himself looking for another script if Warner have any humanity in them and do the right thing by cancelling those plans.
VERDICT: 3 OUT OF 10
Rohan Morbey - follow me on Twitter.
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