by Stefan Abrutat
With apologies to the fans of the comic books: I’ve never really got the Green Lantern. I mean, I get that he’s green, and is part of some intergalactic defense force league thing, but I can’t get over the feeling that as superheroes go he’s just, well, a bit crap. There’s nothing particularly cool about a green ring or a magic Feng shui lamp. (Nothing has ever been cool about jade jewelry or tacky nightglow bric-a-brac that looks recently raked from the bottom of the Goodwill dumpster.)
I’m fairly certain what happened is that DC Comics writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell decided, back in the days of honest, heady, prewar marijuana, to really test the envelope of American gullibility (green energy smoke he can make into anything? C’mon, folks. How obvious can it be?).
So I went into the theatre with a certain disrespectful air, but, like every time I go to the movies, I couldn’t help but excitedly tingle a little in anticipation of the wonders about to be presented for my amusement.
All too often that tingle is dissipated a little too readily by movies that disrespect the audience. Though I didn’t particularly feel I was being dismissed as an idiot by the filmmakers, I did get the impression they were intentionally making the movie “just good enough” to get my bum into the seat. Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordon with his trademark flippancy, and is competent enough, but is let down by a script that appears constructed via device rather than artisanship and overshadowed by gratuitous special effects.
Kiwi director Martin Campbell certainly possesses superlative skill (Goldeneye, Casino Royale, Mask of Zorro), and judging by the number of writers credited, it appears he had to experience significant studio involvement, which typically means the story is going to be formulaic, vanilla, and dull. Well, guess what?
It’s nearly always a bad thing to open a movie with convoluted exposition, and Green Lantern is no exception (Star Wars and LOTR can get away with it because, well, they’re Star Wars and LOTR). Unless it’s superbly well-written, my eyes roll back in my head and I consider returning to the concession stand to buy smaller candy more suited for flicking at disruptive teenagers.
As the silly preamble washed over me, I ricocheted junior mints from the backs of loudly talking heads, that pleasingly swiveled madly in indignation, looking for the culprit. I managed to land a few pre-chewed ones in full buckets of popcorn, thoughtfully illuminated for judging my trajectory by the light from texting cell phone screens.
So while Green Lantern may be disappointing, I had a whale of a time.
PG13. Running time: 1 hr 45 minutes. Opened on June 17th.