A studio head chomps on a cartoonishly oversized cigar, flipping through pages in a binder. The cover reads “Green Lantern” and he parts with his cigar for the occasional guffaw over certain passages. The man is so delighted he bellows for his assistant to write a check for $300,000,000 to make this amazing, amusing work of cinematic genius. I spin this fictional yarn because it would be great if someone actually loved the film they were making instead of packaging a soulless product – and ultimately I’m getting tired of this shit.
The /Filmcast mentioned the danger that comic books-turned-movies will reveal some of the flaws of the source material; hokey-ness tolerated on print may not translate into celluloid – and along comes Green Lantern to offer an actual example: Fighter pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is selected by an alien ring to become a Green Lantern, defender of Earth and the territory it occupies. Meanwhile, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is infected by an alien entity that kills by sucking out fear. They meet, make some threats, yada yada yada, big battle and, big surprise for this film, Jordan wins.
A cross between the cheesiness of Sam Raimi (unfortunately unintentional), an animated feature, and a tone-deaf grandparent, this film is like a dizzying NASCAR accident. Our introduction to Jordan and love-interest Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) would be less insulting if they would just flash a bold titlecard labeled “IMPORTANT!” and “FEELINGS!” where necessary; Twice, characters are put in peril the audience can see coming with Final Destination-like expectation (totally not intentional); With the majority of the film being a CGI smorgasbord, you’ve got to ask yourself, “At what point does it become an animated film?” Having Ryan Reynolds’ human head shooting out of his CGI costume condom as literally the only part of him that’s real (or is it….?) leads to an uncanny vibe.
The only people who really care about this movie are Reynolds and Sarsgaard, who spend the film trying to avoid the insidious bear traps laid before them in the script; Reynolds tip toes around them with charming wit and Sarsgaard with his acting chops, but neither cross the mine field unscathed.
Green Lantern isn’t the worst summer blockbuster, not even the worst film I’ve seen, sitting between terrible and mediocre. But it’s a slap in the face to audiences to hand over a ridiculous budget to a film without any passion or ingenuity because (we can safely assume) it has brand recognition. You can feel the sting of the studio’s urine as Hollywood ignores the success of the cerebral Inception to continue business as usual.
Quality films are not exclusive to Hollywood or the independent sphere; it’s not an easy bifurcation. However, I would rather see a boring indie film that takes chances, is boiling with passion, and has something to say, than another one of these soulless money machines. There’s no personality in the directing, the script, or the characters. Right after Green Lantern I watched Kung Fu Panda 2 and an animated panda voiced by Jack-freakin’-Black had me more engaged than a man vs. monster-that-eats-worlds story.
I swear, if anyone tries to talk me down from my sniper point on the rooftop with, “It’s just entertainment,” you’ll be next, because this is not entertaining. No one should be paying money to be bored. Pay to see the verbally and visually witty Brick, or pay to see pure, well shot spectacle in Death Race. Not everything has to be self-important, erudite ramblings (Somewhere), that is not what I’m calling for. For the love of celluloid, I’m about to watch a film about a homicidal tire, because you know what, it’s something I’ve not seen before.
What I am calling for is passion. I want someone to be on fire about a film project, enough that we can see that on the screen. We want truth, we want earnestness, we want films that try a new path.
Mediocrity, and anything below it, do not deserve hundreds of millions of dollars and Green Lantern deserves none of yours.
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