Green Lantern, 2011.
Directed by Martin Campbell.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Taiki Waititi, Jay O. Sanders, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Sarsgaard and Clancy Brown.
The first human to be selected for the Green Lantern Corps, test-pilot Hal Jordon soon becomes Earth’s last hope for survival when the planet is threatened by the destructive entity known as Parallax.
It’s fair to say that outside of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, Warner Bros. haven’t exactly set the world alight with their stable of DC Comics superheroes as of late. In fact, their output over the past decade or so has been anything but stellar (see Catwoman, Superman Returns, Jonah Hex), while the studio’s one decent effort – Zack Snyder's Watchmen – was never really going to be anything more than a cult hit (I mean, could you really see The Comedian on a Happy Meal box?). Meanwhile, over at the competition, Marvel Studios seem to have perfected their formula, delivering a string of box office hits with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger as they build towards the release of The Avengers next year.
Warner Bros. have made no secret about the fact that they’d like to follow Marvel’s lead and develop their own Justice League feature and so this summer they took their first step beyond Gotham City and Metropolis, turning to director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) and comic-book regular Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) for a $200m adaptation of Green Lantern. Unfortunately for the studio, the response from audiences and critics was lukewarm at best and while Thor, X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger soared at the box office, Green Lantern barely managed to recoup its hefty production budget, leaving a cloud hanging over Warner’s plans for a ‘DC Cinematic Universe’ outside of The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel.
I never got round to watching Green Lantern at the cinema, partly because of the negative reviews, and party because I was up to my eyeballs in Holy Franchise, Batman! (if you'll excuse the cheap plug). I can’t recall ever reading any Green Lantern comics, I’m not really a fan of Ryan Reynolds and I thought all those CGI aliens in the trailer were laughable, so obviously my expectations were pretty low (well, rock-bottom) when I finally got the chance to catch the film on DVD this past weekend. Maybe it's due to the fact that I was anticipating a disaster, but I have to say that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Green Lantern. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. Not bad, bad. Not Batman & Robin bad.
For anyone yet to catch it (judging by the box-office, I’m guessing there are still quite a few of you out there), Green Lantern sees cocky test-pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) chosen to become the first human member of an intergalactic peace-keeping force known as the Green Lantern Corps when he inherits the power ring of Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), a dying purple alien who crash lands on Earth after battling an evil entity known as Parallax (voiced by the Kurgan himself, Clancy Brown). After undergoing training at the Green Lantern Corps’ headquarters on their home planet of Oa, Hal gets into a confrontation with fellow Lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong) and chooses to quit. Returning to Earth, Hal gradually establishes himself as a superhero whilst wooing his childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and he soon finds himself as humanity’s only hope for survival when Parallax threatens to destroy the Earth.
Unsurprisingly, Ryan Reynolds is his usual self as Hal Jordan, which - as with his Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine - works well enough for his character, and while the story borders on the predictable, it did manage to keep my interest for the most part. Some of the action sequences are also pretty cool, especially with the whole 'constructs' power, which gives the Lanterns the ability to generate any object, limited only by their imagination (and a $200m production budget) and the CGI isn’t half as hideous as the trailers had led me to believe. Although I much preferred Thor and Captain America, I can’t say I was any less entertained by Green Lantern than I was by X-Men: First Class – the difference being, I was expecting big things from Matthew Vaughn’s mutant prequel, whereas I was expecting absolutely nothing from this. If you’re expectations are similarly low, then you might just want to take a look for yourself.
Holy Franchise, Batman! - Coming 2012.