Tag Archives: green lantern review

Green Lantern: the Grumpy Fanboy review

27 Jun

Green Lantern, like many film disappointments of the past – Spider-Man 3, every Highlander sequel, every Alien sequel after the second and, most recently, Green Hornet – has left my fanboy psyche so scarred, I’m going to try to forget I ever saw it.

I really wanted to enjoy Green Lantern. I really did. Not only is Hal Jordan one of my favorite childhood heroes of all time, I also love the lore developed over the years behind the Green Lantern Corps itself. With today’s special effects and the success rate of recent comic book adaptations – Iron Man, the Dark Knight, Thor and X-Men: First Class in particular – this film had every reason to be great.

The film has since been universally reviled by critics. It’s not hard to sum up why: The film never takes itself seriously enough for you to relate to the lead character or feel any emotion at all. (Unless you count the gag reflex an emotion.) You never get a sense of the Green Lantern Corps’ importance or who exactly they guard the universe against. Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds) is passed on the most powerful weapon in the universe by the dying Green Lantern Abin Sur so that he can … well, we’re not sure exactly. Later we see him beat up three thugs and stop a helicopter crash. Could that be it?

For a super-hero film, too much of the story in conveyed through words rather than genuine story-telling. We hear other Green Lanterns saying over and over again what an honor and how rare it is for one to be chosen. But once on the Green Lantern home planet of Oa, his training lasts for all of 15 minutes, after which he says, “I quit” and the rest of the Lanterns appear to reply, “Okay”.

You never get a sense of dread about the looming danger. We hear that an entity called Parallax has destroyed two inhabited worlds and killed four Green Lanterns (including its “greatest warrior, Abin Sur”). Yet when he arrives on earth, Parallax appears little more than a black cloud that breaks windows and flips over a few cars. In the end he is all-too-easily beaten by the rookie Green Lantern. Why a bunch of more seasoned Lanterns were unable to accomplish the same feat is never made clear.

There is no credible transformation for Hal from failure to hero. Green Lanterns become great by overcoming fear, we understand. But since we know from the opening scene that Hal is a test pilot willing to risk stalling the jet engine on his own aircraft in order to achieve victory, conquering fear never appears to be his problem. In the end, what finally allows him to become the courageous hero is a pep talk from his girlfriend, who tells him, “You’re courageous.” Problem solved!

Green Lantern never quite takes off. Its characters are unlikable and its emotional dilemmas are contrived and superficial. The script seemed more preoccupied stringing together wise cracks and satisfying female audiences by showing Ryan Reynolds shirtless. Most unforgivable of all – at least for us grumpy fanboys – are the missed opportunities to provide nods to the source material. Of all the Lanterns in the Corps, only Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog appear. A few more familiar faces would have been welcome. It’s an adaptation that never gives its  loyal fans any respect nor provides enough opportunities to hook new ones.

Grumpy Fanboy rating: 2/5

Green Lantern is still one of my all-time favorite characters. Fortunately, if you’re looking for more satisfying on-screen incarnations of DC Comics’ emerald guardian, you can always turn to their animated features:

Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

DC’s first full-length feature film for DVD provides a decent origin story for Hal Jordan. This is what the live-action film should have based its story on.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)

A collection of six stories about the Green Lantern Corps give you a better understanding of the legacy of the universe’s self-appointed police force.

 Justice League TV series (2001-2006)

Although featuring Jon Stewart and not Hal Jordan, this series best portrayed the Green Lantern Corps in all its glory. In particular, check out episodes “Blackest Night (Parts 1 & 2)”, “Hearts & Minds (Parts 1 &2)” and “The Once and Future Thing (Part 2)”, in which Hal makes a cameo appearance.

Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

Apart from being an adaptation of Darwyn Cooke’s excellent comic book series, it also offers one of the most compelling Hal Jordan origin stories ever made.

Green Lantern: the Animated Series (scheduled for release in 2013)

Creatively led by Bruce Timm, best known for his work on Justice League, Batman and the Superman animated series), this upcoming series shows a lot of promise. Plus it’s the first among DC’s animated projects to go full CGI. Check out the trailer:

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