Mania Review: Green Lantern -

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay O Sanders, Angela Bassett, and Temuera Morrison
  • Written by: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg
  • Directed by: Martin Campbell
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Series: Green Lantern, The, Green Lantern

Mania Review: Green Lantern

Needs a brighter day

By Rob Vaux     June 17, 2011

Green Lantern
© Warner Bros/Robert Trate

Green Lantern makes a fatal mistake (well okay, it makes more than one, but this is a big ‘un) by assuming that it only needs to produce what the fanboys want.  It delivers some cool little touches from the Hal Jordan mythology– the energy constructs from his ring, for example, or the appearance of Kilowog, who Michael Clarke Duncan knocks out of the park – then assumes that its job is done and slaps together a motley collection of half-backed clichés to hold it together. Sure, comic lovers will thrill when Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) recites the Lantern oath for the first time, but I bet they’d be a lot happier if he had something interesting to do afterwards.

No such luck. After receiving his signature power ring from dying alien Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), Jordan bounces haphazardly between Lantern HQ on the planet Oa and Earth, where a brewing threat from the sinister Parallax threatens to destroy them both. One might wonder why Parallax – who looks like a giant set of space dreadlocks with the face of Oz the Great and Terrible – serves as the chief bad guy, when arch-nemesis Sinestro (Mark Strong) plays a key role here as a still-good fellow Lantern. Apparently, we need to wait for the sequel for that, a fatal case of overreaching that sidelines one of the film’s biggest assets in favor of overblown CGI. Parallax is more special effect run amuck than actual villain. Strong’s terrific turn as Sinestro – Right there, people! Right there mocking us! – only pours salt in that wound.

So too does Peter Sarsgaard, playing meek scientist Hector Hammond transformed by Parallax into a psychic powerhouse. Green Lantern gives him clichéd daddy issues with his Senator father (Tim Robbins) and a botched background with Jordan, but Sarsgaard rapidly overcomes those shortcomings with his loopy intensity. Pity he basically serves as Parallax’s lapdog: another great component that Green Lantern all but squanders.

Reynolds himself lifts the film higher than it should go as well. On the script page, Jordan is flat, milquetoast and a little whiney – going on and on about how he doesn’t deserve the honor of the ring. But Reynolds’ easy quips and smoldering presence rescue us from terminal boredom and provide a reliable rooting interest. I wish I could say the same for Blake Lively, playing love interest Carol Ferris. Unfortunately, she fails to register any kind of presence, and the already rocky narrative grinds to a halt whenever she appears onscreen.

Speaking of the narrative… yeah, it’s pretty much a hash. Director Martin Campbell takes on so much here that he hardly knows where to start. We begin with a brief synopsis of the Corps in general, followed by a breakdown of Parallax’s threat and the death of Abin Sur. Then it’s on to an extended pretend dogfight with Jordan to establish yet another passel of daddy issues; a segue to his nephew’s birthday for reasons that have nothing to do with the story and everything to do with setting up a future construct shot; out to Abin Sur’s ship for the ring delivery; back home to figure out the lamp; an interruption from Ferris right when we’re getting to the good stuff for a drink and reiteration of key plot points; and then finally to Oa for training and more complications. By then, the film is nearly forty minutes in and nothing of interest has taken place: so concerned with rushing to and fro that it misses the purpose of the exercise.

The real culprit here – as evinced by the brazen franchise greed and the need to follow the blockbuster playbook page by page – is viewing the character as a cash cow rather than anyone people would want to pay to see. Chris Nolan’s Batman films (and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer’s various X-Men dabblings) work because their creators commit to the onscreen figures before worrying about the cereal tie-ins. Green Lantern lacks the widespread recognition of those other superheroes, and needs the same commitment if they expect him to thrive. Rival Marvel Studios knows how to elevate the less-culturally entrenched members of its canon to grade-A status (witness the success of Thor and Iron Man). In this test, at least, DC utterly fails to match their example, producing a depressingly routine adventure that neither excites, enthralls, nor holds our interest. You need more than a ring guys: you need a man.  He’s nowhere to be found here, buried beneath an indifferent production that never understands its real priorities.


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kennynine 6/17/2011 12:54:58 AM

I could barely sit through the trailer's for this movie. The reviews coming in confirm my initial feeling that this movie is going to suck. I usually give movies a chance even if the reviews are unfavorable, but this one is a scratch for me. I feel bad for the true green lantern fans.

themovielord 6/17/2011 1:41:27 AM

 does Hollywood think we have forgotten the mythic superhero movies of old? It is unfair to compare GL to Superman and Batman (1989) but this was a slapped together piece of shit. Those movies still stand to this day as not only great superhero movies but great movies on their own. 

creamygnome 6/17/2011 2:08:35 AM

I give Blake Lively's rack an A though!

Tevii 6/17/2011 2:37:44 AM

Just saw it. Im not sure why critics like Thor but not this, this was better than Thor. Yeah SOME parts could have been less cheesy, but this was a decent movie. It was definitely fun.

The end wasnt anticlimactic like Thor. The relationship between Carol and Hal was good. Reynolds was good for an EARLY Hal... He cant do any of the funny stuff in a sequel to be the Hal everyoone knows though.

Could it have been better YES... but is it HALF as bad as the critics are saying HELL NO.



vitieddie 6/17/2011 2:45:53 AM

This is very painful for DC fans. I feel quite depressed by all this. Hope DC can take a step back and take a page out of Marvel's book. Plan ahead and focus on the stories. I know Geoff Johns has more sense than this .......... I need  a drink ......

what a mess

wish 6/17/2011 4:48:53 AM


vitieddie you've negated the need for me to comment. EXACTLY what you said.


(single teardrop runs down cheek)

gopherblaster 6/17/2011 5:16:00 AM

 wonder when the reboot is going to happen..........

redvector 6/17/2011 5:41:39 AM

This movie didn't pass the smell test from that first lame-ass trailer. I think this will fall short of Thor's box office take. So no sequal for Green Lantern.

Flyincloud 6/17/2011 5:45:57 AM

I agree with an earlier post, if you like Thor you will like this movie.  I saw it at midnight and I think the movie deserves a grade of B.  I hate the way that GL defeated Parallax, but i enjoyed the rest of the movie.

jedibanner 6/17/2011 6:00:02 AM

Hehehe, so not surprise about this. And it's funny because I'm the geek and talking with many people at the office who are not into comics, many are like ''peh, so not interested in this'' and ''is this coming out this weekend?''.

Will wait for Netflix for this...if ever.

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