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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Green Lantern (review)

Terrible Justice

Two quick tips if you want to save your planet from certain doom:

1) Do not create something called “The Forbidden Chamber” that, if you enter it, will turn a guy who already looks like Megamind into a rampaging intergalactic supervillain. But if you do create that Forbidden Chamber, do not let that guy who already looks like Megamind near it. Cuz you’re only asking for trouble.

2) Do not give the power to save entire planets to smug, self-centered assholes. The smug, self-centered asshole may well end up saving the planet, but you’ll give the rest of the intergalactic kiddies the wrong idea about you and your species. If it’s the other intergalactic kiddies who give the smug, self-centered asshole the power to save entire planets, pick up and move to a different universe. Because now you’re really in big trouble.
Meanwhile, in the northeast quadrant of the lost sector, Green Lantern is a godawful disaster of such proportions that I wish there really were intergalactic supercops looking out for us, if only to save us from ourselves. I confess I’m not familiar with the comic book this is based on, but: “The emerald energy of willpower”? Really? Seriously? I had no idea the premise here was so, you know, ridiculous. There’s also apparently a “yellow power of fear.” No word on what power red or blue embody, though I suppose in this parallel reality, Rainbow Brite would be a fearsome creature of such unspeakable power that she would rule all of time and space.

Me? I am consumed by the aubergine power of muddled confusion and despair.

I suppose decent screenwriters could have made this all work in a way that doesn’t make you want to snort your lungs out through your nose laughing. The team of mostly TV writers — Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg, one of whom (Green) was responsible for helping turn Heroes into the risible mess it became — is not capable of this. They’re too busy living vicariously through Ryan Reynolds’ Hal Jordan, a hotshot fighter-jet pilot who treats his friends like dirt and is such an all-around general jerk that when a couple of thugs beat him up for being such an all-around general jerk, you want to cheer. But the writers want to live vicariously through Jordan because this jerk gets chosen by an alien emerald ring of power or whatever to become one of the aforementioned intergalactic supercops.

(Tedious superpower training sequence! In space!)

This apparently a cool thing to be. The coolness of it isn’t actually conveyed in the film itself: we just have to take this as a given. I suppose a decent actor could have made us care about Jordan, even though he’s a smug, self-centered asshole, and appreciate the coolness of being an intergalactic superpowered peacekeeper — maybe even appreciate how being handed the responsibility of being an intergalactic superpowered peacekeeper might reform a smug, self-centered asshole — but Reynolds is not capable of this. Peter Sarsgaard (Knight and Day, Orphan) might have been capable of this, but he’s busy being wasted as a nerdy scientist infected by (I think) the yellow power of fear or (more likely) the puce power of supervillains who look like Megamind. Mark Strong (The Eagle, Robin Hood) might have been capable of this, but he’s busy being an alien Lantern called Sinestro (and don’t think that name isn’t frontloaded for something) who joins us in not liking Jordan. Blake Lively (The Town, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2) might have been capable of this, but she’s busy serving as the movie’s one small nod to something that looks like feminism — she’s a hotshot fighter-jet pilot, too, as well as a hotshot industrialist — until she is perforce cornered into the typical damsel in distress for Jordan to rescue.

Actually, Lively probably wouldn’t have been capable of it. She’s as dreadful an actor as Reynolds (Buried, The Proposal) — they are well matched in the “every emotion is depicted with slack-jawed blankness” department — and is easily the least appealing superhero girlfriend ever, to Reynolds least appealing superhero ever. They are made for each other, and welcome to each other.

(Random scary space monster outta nowhere! Booga booga!)

I’m not really sure any director could have saved this: I thought Martin Campbell was a pretty decent one already (his The Mask of Zorro is fantastic; so is his Casino Royale). One excellent tip to all directors, however: cool it on the CGI. Unless you want your live action movie to look like a lost Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Hey! Bugs Bunny is the kind of smug, self-centered asshole I could get behind for Savior of the Planet. Or if only Hal Jordan were as entertaining as Bugs, then we might have something here.

Poor Megamind Peter Sarsgaard. He gets it. After snagging a supercool job — autopsying the alien Lantern who passes on his powers to Jordan after crashing on Earth — he discovers that he only got the job because of his Senator father (Tim Robbins [Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, War of the Worlds], channeling Bob Roberts just a little). There were tons of other far more qualified scientists who should have gotten the job, whose lifetime of hard work had earned them the job. And here it just falls into Megamind Peter Sarsgaard’s lap because of dumb circumstance.

Which is exactly the way I felt about this awful guy Hal Jordan. This jerk gets to be a hero and save the universe? This asshole gets to teach the infinitely old and wise and civilized alien Lantern folks that humanity, like, totally rocks and stuff?

So not fair.

And gods help us there’s gonna be a sequel.

Someone call the intergalactic supercops and make it stop.


Watch The Green Lantern online using LOVEFiLM’s streaming service.


Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated LASA: Least Appealing Superhero Ever
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
BBFC: rated 12A (contains moderate fantasy violence)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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