I really, really like superhero films. I like space. I like people with powers. I like skin-tight jumpsuits. I like secret identity angst. Although I do not think all superhero movies are good, they rarely bore me. X-men 3 was bad, but it didn’t bore me. There are three exceptions to this, two of which I saw in the last week. The first of these was The Death of the Incredible Hulk, which I’d been saving up as a special treat. If you know me well enough to know how much I love The Incredible Hulk, you’ll know what it means when I say that this movie was so bad I can’t even bring myself to review it. The second is Green Lantern, which was probably only enjoyable because I saw it with the wonderful Lee Harris, and the bottle of wine we smuggled in. (The other film is Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Nuff said.)
I’d heard that this film wasn’t 100% made of win, but that had been in the context of speculation about superhero fatigue created by the recent glut. As I’m pretty much never going to get tired of superhero films, I didn’t pay this too much mind. However, although I think the assessment is wrong, the message that this is a dull film that’s just going through the motions is worth heeding. The danger lies in blaming a genre for the faults of a film. The last three films I saw in the cinema were all superhero films. Thor was massive fun, despite my prejudice against Kenneth Branagh as a director. X-men: First Class was one of my favourite superhero films of all time. This film isn’t dull because there are too many superhero films, and superhero films aren’t dull because there are too many of them. This film is just dull.
Green Lantern has all the elements of a superhero film. It has space (not necessary, but often a joy). It has superpowers. It has secret identity angst. It has skin-tight costumes. But it’s just thrown them all together with no sense of style, pacing, or originality. I’ve seen worse scripts. The Spiderman films had god-awful scripts and actors that did little to bend their terrible lines into something less painful. But the script in Green Lantern, if not as actively painful as Spiderman, was boring and obvious.
I wondered if it was just that the Green Lantern story was not for me. I’m not a fan of the comics, and what little I’ve gleaned about them didn’t inspire me. However, Lee is a fan, and if anything I think he was even more disappointed than I was.
The one credit to this movie is that the actors are really working hard with what they’ve been given. Ryan Reynolds (Hal Jordan/Green Lantern) and Blake Lively (Carol Ferris) are to be commended for forcing believability and interest out of an unconvincing romance. Tim Robins is wasted as Senator Hammond. Not in that he was inappropriate for a role – I loved seeing him be a little bit bad, it’s just that he was given absolutely nothing to play with.
The 3D was wasted on this film, also. If you have a choice, do not spend the extra couple of quid, all you will get is a movie that’s blurrier than it needs to be in the action scenes. There are a couple of nice moments, but not enough to warrant the whole film. It doesn’t have to be this way. Thor worked its 3D seamlessly in a way that only enriched its beautiful CGI landscape. I never once had to remove my 3D glasses due to eyestrain when watching Thor, but with Green Lantern they were almost more off than on.
Admittedly, Carol Ferris puts the representation of other female love-interests to shame. She kicks legitimate butt with both her brains and with missiles without crossing any lines of believability. Moreover, this film does pretty well for race (for a Hollywood movie). Not only do we have a black woman as the chief scientist in what is clearly a high-level secret scientific institution, but I have never seen so racially diverse a crowd scene in a Hollywood movie. It is a sad thing for other Hollywood movies that I noticed this. On the other hand, in the green lantern crowd scenes, I only spotted one female green lantern. For some reason, she was the only one whose costume left a large portion of her chest uncovered by green suit, revealing most of her ample alien bosoms. Similarly, Dr Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett) may be intellectually at the top of the game, but for some bizarre reason she tends to wander round the lab in four-inch heels and a tiny lab-coat dress. Nothing wrong with sexy female scientists, I actually know several, but they manage to look much sexier than this without dressing so impractically at work.
The real thing that drags this film down, though, is the pacing. We spend far, far too long on the back story of the Green Lanterns, and then on Hal’s training. The basic story is actually OK, and Hal’s initially repulsive character really turns around by the end of the film. But we take far too long to get there. I imagine I’m meant to be rooting for Hal as he stabs his friend in the back and selfishly ruins his company’s chances by showing off. But I’m not. He deserves to be fired. You can pull off the reckless rogue, but you have to really work it, and Hal Jordan is no Han Solo – not in this film, anyway. Once the character actually starts to arc, he does grow on you, but by that point you’ve already spent 40 minutes thinking he’s a dick. If there were something else in the film to provide a hook, it would be OK, but it’s formulaic is as formulaic does.
I don’t especially like writing negative reviews. It isn’t so much that I loathed this film with a fiery passion. I have seen worse films. I do not hate this movie. I was simply bored by it. I rarely feel like I wish I could have the time back I spent watching a movie, and in this case I had a fun night out with a mate, so I don’t regret that. I’m just saying that if you want to have a fun night out with a mate, there are better films on at the moment you could go and see.