Green Lantern

Green Lantern reminded me why I sometimes really enjoy bad movies. They’re just too much fun to make fun of to not be somewhat enjoyable. Sure, they can be a big mess, contain terrible performances, awful CGI, an incomprehensibly awful screenplay and lackluster action scenes, but they can still be fun because you can easily spot the errors and make fun of them while you’re watching. With a film like Green Lantern, you won’t even annoy the people you’re watching it with; you’ll actually make it better.

This is an origin story for its titular character, here played by Ryan Reynolds. He’s Hal Jordan, a pilot who decided on his profession after watching his pilot father die in a horrific plane crash. We already know we’re not dealing with the most sane person here. I guess it makes sense that when an alien space ship crashes on Earth, sends out a magic ring that specifically targets Hal and brings him to the space ship, he’s not the least bit surprised. That kind of thing might seem normal to him.

The magical ring ends up being something that transforms Hal into a “Green Lantern,” which is a member of a police force that patrols the universe battling the forces of evil. Honestly, it seems like a boring job, as there doesn’t seem to be that much evil around. There are thousands of members composed of hundreds of different species, all of which use their magical rings to summon willpower in order to send out a green energy blast that can be anything they can imagine. Hal is the first human allowed into this exclusive group, and even that was technically an accident.

I don’t want to get into too many of the details, as it’s all very complex and isn’t explained all that well by the film. Long story made short is that Hal Jordan is now a superhero even though he admits that he’s the wrong person for the job. There’s a big cloud coming toward the planet, and it’ll eventually be up to him and maybe the other Green Lanterns to take it down. If they feel like it, anyway; the other Green Lanterns don’t seem to be too willing to do work if it involves moving, even though their ring can do anything for them, including allowing them to fly.

What else is there? Oh, Hal has a maybe-girlfriend played by Blake Lively, who seems to have a love-hate relationship with our hero. There’s noticeable tension between them, but it also sometimes seems to be more playful than anything else. It ultimately doesn’t matter, as the relationship ends up falling into superhero clich├ęs. There’s also a side villain played by Peter Sarsgaard, and it’s only during his scenes when Green Lantern actually has anything to intrigue us with. I actually would have liked an entire movie based on this character than Green Lantern, as it would have been more interesting.

No such luck. We have to watch an uninteresting main character who wears a stupid CGI suit — an actual suit would have looked better, but the filmmakers decided to spend millions animating his suit and looks absolutely awful as a result — do nothing of importance. The bad CGI isn’t just with his suit, however; it’s everywhere. For a $200 million film, it looks cheap. Maybe there wasn’t enough time, or maybe that $200 million was stretched too thinly to make anything look good, but everything in Green Lantern barely competes with a PS3 game in terms of graphical prowess.

Even the action scenes are awful and too infrequent. There’s one at the beginning which doesn’t involve superheroes, a couple in the middle that are short and not terribly creative, and a final one that is a massive letdown considering how much of a threat the giant cloud guy — Parallax, I think, was its name — and how unenjoyable the battle with him is. Most of the film is instead focused on Ryan Reynolds looking lost in front of a green screen or his relationship troubles with Blake Lively. Is that what you want in a Green Lantern film? I know it’s not what I do.

The only thing that I actually liked about this production was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. That’s always a plus when your film isn’t all that good to begin with — it makes feel like it’s okay to mock it — and there are a few genuinely funny moments scattered throughout. It’s a silly movie, if you didn’t get that from the plot summary, and not being a serious film helps it out a little. Characters are permitted to smile and crack jokes, and it’s hard to hate too much on a superhero film that doesn’t want to be The Dark Knight.

I did want to see a lot more of the secondary cast, and it’s disappointing to find out that most of them are only given a couple of scenes. The other members of the Green Lantern Corps, for example, only get three or four scenes each. And these characters are voiced by actors like Geoffrey Rush, Mark Strong and Michael Clarke Duncan. Their talents are wasted in almost inconsequential roles. The other human characters, like Sarsgaard and Lively, are also very much on the supporting side, and as a result, their connection and relationships with each other and Hal don’t work all that well, as we don’t have enough time for establishment or development.

Green Lantern is awful, although I can’t help but find some sick enjoyment in it. Films that are this terrible can sometimes be incredibly fun to mock as they play, and Green Lantern fits that role perfectly. Sure, if you’re looking for a movie that will please fans of the comic books series, or one that’s actually enjoyable to watch on a level other than ironic, then you’ll want to go watch something else. But if you enjoy making fun of bad movies, this is almost a must watch.

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