The latest set of Batman movies has seemingly paved the way for all superhero films to be ‘dark and gritty’ and grounded in reality. While this has made for popular, adult-toned movies, there is the danger that these comic-book films will forget their main purpose: to be fun.
The latest set of Batman movies has seemingly paved
the way for all superhero films to be ‘dark and gritty’ and grounded in
reality. While this has made for popular, adult-toned movies, there is the
danger that these comic-book films will forget their main purpose: to be fun.
In that respect, Green
Lantern should be commended for striving to entertain first and foremost
without getting too bogged down in the character’s many years of mythology.
Unfortunately, director Martin Campbell
tips the scales too far in this direction, resulting in a vacuous, camp
overload of CGI.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal, a supposedly fearless test
fighter pilot who is, in actuality, dogged by childhood memories of his
father’s death. The cocky, womanising high-flyer is forced to confront his own
fears (and general irresponsibility) when he is chosen to be a member of the
Green Lantern Intergalactic Corps, a legion of guardians that maintain order
and protect every sector of the universe. And so Hal must learn how to use his
magic space ring – which can generate energy in the form of anything he can
imagine – and prevent an attack on Earth from the ancient evil, Parallax.
Campbell’s reliance to
use computer-animated graphics to depict everything remotely alien (including
Hal’s costume, which would have probably been better off just being spandex)
lends the film an overpowering sense of artificial colour. Between the bright
green Lantern suits, the too-cartoonish extraterrestrial races and the ever-
threatening yellow smoke cloud that is this film’s ‘baddie’, the movie looks
like the result of a child colouring in his favourite superhero colouring book
with glowing highlighters.
Some saving graces help
to make up for this eye-bleeding design though. For one, perhaps aware that
audiences are growing bored with seeing similar origin stories, Campbell
doesn’t spend too long on Hal coming to terms with existence of aliens (let
alone the existence of many aliens working together to protect the galaxy from
a greater alien threat). It seems that Hal exists in a believable world where
people are exposed to sci-fi and know what a superhero is, which means that
viewers don’t have to wait for him to catch up to speed.
And realism too is
presented with Hal’s positive reaction to his calling. Rather than being
burdened with a tragic back story, Hal whoops with delight when he learns he
can fly – which is exactly what the rest of us would do because, you know what?
Being a superhero IS awesome. All this is an outcome of the film’s greatest
strength: Ryan Reynolds’ effortless charm and onscreen charisma. A devout
comic-book fan himself, Reynolds clearly revels in the role, having great fun
despite the fact that he was, for the most part, probably acting against an
empty green-screen opposite a tennis ball on a stick.
it’s just not enough to save Green Lantern from its own inherent silliness. An
interestingly creepy turn from Peter
Saasgard just about makes up for the criminal underuse of love interest Blake Lively, but the film flounders
under the unconvincing presentation of its superhero’s superpowers. After all,
a magic ring that can conjure up anything the wearer imagines just seems wasted
on a guy who can only think of things like big guns and bigger fists.