Saturday, 25 June 2011

Green Lantern

Millions of years ago, the Guardians of the Universe harnessed the green energy of willpower to create the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force with one Lantern assigned to all 3600 sectors of the Universe. In the modern day, when Abin Sur, defender of Sector 2814 is mortally wounded, he crash lands on the nearest inhabited planet and sends his power ring to find his replacement. The ring chooses Hal Jordan, a brash and cocky fighter pilot, who becomes the newest Green Lantern. After being brought to the Lanterns' home planet of Oa, he quickly learns his new job comes with mighty power and even mightier responsibility...

We've seen the big heroes on the big screen, now it's time for the little guys to shine. I say little guys, they're still pretty big. Not Superman or Batman big, but they have their own fan base who have been eager to see them in their own feature film. Marvel presented Thor back in April to us, although that was a creation of necessity rather than choice what with the Avengers film coming up next year. DC now give a chance to one of their lower-tier heroes with the Green Lantern, probably the biggest hero yet to receive his own film. Well, now he's got one, and quite frankly, the general consensus has been that maybe he should have stuck to the comic books. Well, don't listen to Rotten Tomatoes all the time, kids, because frankly, I rather enjoyed it!

I will preface this by saying I'm a Green Lantern fan. Going into the film I knew the back story, I knew the characters, I knew what I wanted to see. In all fairness to its detractors, I can understand where the hate and bile is coming from. It really whistles through the history of the Lanterns and Oa and Parallax, the overriding evil entity, and it's a lot to squeeze into a two hour film. There's also the complaint that this is essentially a faux film, roughly 60% of it has been digitally animated. There's also the complaint that the film relies to heavily on the love story between Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. Well, yes, it is a lot of history to get through, and considering the epic scale of the Lantern Corps history, it gets through it at a steady pace and never really patronises the audience, it merely offers a sound explanation. Also, yes, a lot of it is CGI and effects heavy, but looking back, that really was the only way they could have done it. Creating the planet Oa, creating the alien-looking Lantern Corps, creating Parallax (who isn't a person anymore, he's an ENTITY, an ESSENCE), doing flight, creating all the things Hal can imagine and summon using the ring, even the suit and mask which are technically aren't items of clothing but are parts of him to hide his identity. All of that was meant to be done with props and costumes and sets? The scale would have been immeasurable and unobtainable. Finally, yes, it does focus on the Jordan/Ferris story, much in the same way Batman focuses on the Wayne/Dawes story and Superman focuses on the Kent/Lane story - Jordan needed a damsel in distress to save. Shut the hell up, haters. Rant over.

That's not to say this is the best superhero film ever, not by a long way, but it's entertaining and has plenty of action, and that's exactly what you want/need from a summer superhero blockbuster film. Ryan Reynolds is a perfectly fine Hal Jordan, and adds his Reynolds trademark low-talking sarcasm, and it's fine. Blake Lively is also perfectly fine, if a little wooden at times, as Carol Ferris. However, Peter Sarsgaard is fantastic as Dr Hector Hammond, the film's villain who gets infected with Parallax's yellow fear-driven DNA, and becomes a swollen headed megalomaniac, he really delights in his role and you can see it on screen. Tim Robbins is in this, weirdly, and just isn't good here. This ain't no Shawshank level of performance. Mark Strong does well as Sinestro as well, straightly playing a red guy with a pencil moustache.

The thing which really brings this film down is, at times, it does get a bit boring when the pace gets slowed right down. But it doesn't last long, as it whistles through the plot, given that there's so much to get through in two hours. Another point here, it doesn't feel like it's two hours either, which is always a good sign. The film does get itself in a bit of a mess sometimes because there is SO much history to explain for all those non-geeks who don't know the character, and I feel the blame for that can be placed on the fact that this was written by 4 writers throwing ideas around left, right and centre. Too many cooks. Don't put the blame on Martin Campbell, haters. Just because you were expecting another Goldeneye/Casino Royale. It was never going to be that kind of film, never, and when your too-high expectations weren't met, you all laid into him. He did nothing wrong here, he did exactly what was asked of him, doing what he could with the material he was given.

Overall, Green Lantern will obviously disappoint people, but if you don't think about it too much, it's not that bad. It's not great, but it's not that bad. A bit of prior knowledge about the man and the Corps will help you to not drown in all the information thrown into this, but no matter if you do go in blind. Also, I like how DC have stolen Marvel's trick of including a small post-credits sequence, so don't leave straight away! Proper critics may have panned it, but I've yet to talk to one person who's seen it and absolutely hated it, it's just silly entertaining superhero fodder. I liked it more than X-Men, but then maybe it's just me. Not too shabby for a man who can be defeated by the colour yellow.

Rating: ***