Wednesday, 6 July 2011

“Your will turns thought into reality”

Green Lantern directed by Martin Campbell; written by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green
                 
Even though I understand the movie making is a business aimed at earning money, and since there seems to be an unremitting audience for superhero films, I have to wonder why studios keep green-lighting them. The overwhelming number of superhero films released in the past decade seems intent on making the genre reach saturation point. When Hal Jordan, fated to be the Green Lantern, happens upon the wreck and ring responsible for her imminent superb prowess there’s little about it that’s awe-inspiring. But, of course, this has as much to do with the oversaturation of the genre as it has to do with the weakness of the film itself.
Green Lantern, a successor to a long line of heroes, depends on such a great number of clichés that it’s difficult to give it legitimate credit. Our hero is a golden boy, with a penchant for rash brazenness – which is to become his ultimate weapon. He has unresolved daddy-issues, as a prerequisite for potential emotional profundity and is flirting with a romance in the form of one of his superior’s daughter. Because Green Lantern is a film celebrating activity the villain is a professor – because, all science professors are frumpy and lonely. By now, my issues with the writing in some of these films has turned into a veritable litany and Green Lantern, I’ll admit, is hardly inconsistent. It’s simply consistently pedestrian. For a film whose production values are in excess of 200 million dollars it’s surprising that it looks and sounds so cheap. I’d essentially relegated myself to a film that would be poorly written but beautiful to watch, but it’s hardly satisfying on that scale.
          
There’s a consistent sense of indolence in the film’s tone. Moments that should be grandiose and resounding end up coming off as mere trifles. I’ve never understood the massive goodwill for Ryan Reynolds who I find diverting in Van Wilder but hardly enthralling. He’s fine here, but he seems to be on the wrong intent on playing Hal with a wave of humour that the actual film is maddeningly devoid of. 
Curiously, Blake Lively is the only actor who gives as much as he does. Maybe everyone else is just thinking of their salaries but from Sarsgaard to Robbins to Bassett – the supporting cast seem mostly disinterested. Lively is far from excellent, and as stock as her role is she seems at least concerned with doing something sufficient.
         
And, I haven’t even addressed the film’s dubious message of thinkers versus doers. Who am I to say that the message is flawed – it takes all kinds, doesn’t it? But, it becomes confusing since the very concept of the Green Lantern depends on thought, more than action. For all the flight manoeuvring that Campbell has Reynolds doing, he’s probably the most lethargic of superheroes – which makes the conflict between the thinker and doing concepts so ridiculous, and the movie’s already flirting with absurdity. If only the movie audiences had had the fore-knowledge to be wise enough to follow the film's dictum to eschew thought and act instead – heading in droves away from this one.

D-

4 comments:

Yojimbo_5 said...

Well, Andrew, the movie's bad...but I think the "thought becomes action" gambit is a good one, they just didn't exploit it enough or drive the message home...because unfortunately all Hal ever comes up with are Hot Wheels tracks and guns. His very nature to help others and insert himself rather than be a glory hound is an action, and if they'd done something with self-sacrifice to drive the point home it might have been more effective. And I think they missed the point by not using a "Picture it and it will become reality" metaphor that might have spoken to people.

And Blake Lively? She just wasn't very good. This is the first I've seen her in anything, and she seemed flat and hectoring...Peter Saarsgaard was at least trying to do something interesting in a creepy Malkovichian way.

But...it was just...uninspiring...and not very entertaining. And it looked...BAD. For that money, how could it look so terrible? One thing they could have done? The ring used to have a weakness—it couldn't affect anything yello. That, my friend, could have led to some real comedy as it did in the comic (why is everything yellow??)...and given Hal's abilities a much needed Achilles heel.

Your post certainly inspired a lot of thoughts...

Paolo said...

Hee on the Sarsgard diss and on his character too. He's moping in his bed and I'm thinking, "You have a nice stomach region. Your father loves you and is rich. Get money from him and go shopping!"

It had admirable aspects. Reynolds and Lively had capable chemistry and comic timing. The colours were well used. The movie also tackles fear as a concept, and although they don't get things right at least that's something to ponder a little. For a movie about fear, it didn't make me afraid at all. Otherwise it felt anticlimactic with a predictable ending.

The Mad Hatter said...

The overwhelming number of superhero films released in the past decade seems intent on making the genre reach saturation point. When Hal Jordan, fated to be the Green Lantern, happens upon the wreck and ring responsible for her imminent superb prowess there’s little about it that’s awe-inspiring...

I think you have the beginnings of a whole other post here.

The property of GREEN LANTERN is a pretty cool one: he's an intergalactic cop whose weapon is a sort of nuclear like energy that is limited only by the imagination of it's user. Compare that to batman who's a rich grumpy orphan with a lot of cool toys.

Thing is, no one at WB was able to get a grip on how to take this space cowboy and give him a story suitable for the big screen - this is despite *four* credited screenwriters giving it the college try.

Like Thor, Lantern is more of a "god" - he's not set in this reality like Spider-Man or Batman. Tales of gods and the godly things they can do can still make for great films...we just need to get down to business and skip the bit where we learn about the god's daddy issues.

Great post - I'm with you in the disappointment.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

yojimbo i can't argue with you on the first point, because i find the concept a bit vague. i've never read the comics, and it's not that i'm confused by his powers but it all seems to lack the force i think it should.

paolo You have a nice stomach region. Your father loves you and is rich. Get money from him and go shopping! your rationalisation is hilarious. ryan and blake do have fair chemistry.

mad hatter I think you have the beginnings of a whole other post here. would you write it? i'm sure you'd do more justice to it than i. (lammy winner and all.)

the fact that it has so many screenwriters makes this even more ridiculous. such a failed opportunity.