The Green Lantern
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett
Director: Martin Campbell
Have you ever gotten into a conversation – and for the life of me, I hope you haven’t – about the supposed fascist underpinnings of comic book superheros?
A film that accepts and teases this fascist nature is The Green Lantern. Test pilot Hal Jordan joins an interplanetary army built on the idea that pure willpower can overcome fear, making the universe safe for corrupt politicians, the military industrial complex, and Blake Lively’s two emotions (for which she has one tone of voice). Triumph of the will, indeed.
That’s not to say these Little Green Brownshirts are without their white hat moments. Their multicultural imperial army is open to purple warriors, elves with crew cuts, and anthropomorphic fish. And while all members share a green uniform and ray-shooting ring, in a modern concession to individuality they let Ryan Reynolds keep his perfect hair. They do fight evil, an evil so lacking personality that even these intergalactic stormtroopers look like the good guys, and so careless with strategy that its first instinct is to blurt out its evil plans to anyone who floats past.
The Green Lantern sees evil in every dark cloud (granted, a spooky planet killer with fangs and tentacles) but sees no evil in Lucas-level screenwriting. Nor does it hear evil in the way that every character catapulted through the air screams something like, “Wooooooooah, oooooooooh, …. Oh.” It also gives us a sub-villain who’s so unlikable, so physically repulsive, so naturally demonic, that he’s a college teacher. (Word to the Hollywood establishment: never dress your villain in a hoodie. It’s hard to feel too menaced by someone who still orders midnight pizza.)
The Green Lantern is bland fun for awhile in a goofy, corny sort of way. The hundreds of millions sunk by director Martin Campbell into 3-D, CG, and every other set of initials don’t go to waste. The script also has an occasional sense of humor about itself and the genre. These brief touches of humor show where The Green Lantern might have been more adventurous, more imaginative, more grotesque, and more genuine.