Green Lantern (2011)

(In theaters, June 2011) Every so often, a film reminds me that I’m fast aging out of the coveted male-geek’s demographic segment… and makes me grateful for that.  So it is that I come out of Green Lantern wondering why that movie even exists.  My tolerance for comic-book mythologies has never been particularly high, and seeing the Green Lantern universe on-screen only highlights how profoundly silly it is, even by comic-book standards.  Here, the accumulated weight of decades of backstory abruptly presented on-screen never goes beyond the simply ridiculous.  (Was it really important to learn that practically all characters in the film were grade-school buddies?)  By the time we’re flying across the galaxies, discussing the yellow power of fear and fighting threats that unfortunately take the form of a skull over liquid-brown tentacles, the whole Green Lantern shtick is so far removed from human concerns that the film practically degenerates in nonsense.  Few of the many people writing the script apparently stopped to ask why audiences should care.  Little of the blame over the film’s lack of success should go to Ryan Reynolds, whose cocky charm prevents the film from sinking further into irrelevancy.  (It’s also awesome to see Angela Bassett on the big screen again, even in such a small role.)  On the other hand, Reynolds’ screen persona is so self-assured that the film is never believable when it questions the character’s lack of courage: Green Lantern’s annoyingly familiar coward-to-hero dramatic arc never gets going, let alone concludes satisfactorily.  The dull script occasionally gives birth to a few well-handled scenes (mostly thanks to director Martin Campbell’s touch when it comes to action sequences), but the overall impact is muted.  There’s also something slightly off with the special effects, although this ties into the whole “let’s go cosmic without making you care for it” problem.  Clearly, I’m not as good an audience for comic book movies as I used to be when I can’t be bothered to say nice things about average efforts like Green Lantern.  Ultimately, it may have more to do with the film’s point: Is it using comic-book mythology to talk about something else, or is it simply content to regurgitate the mythology on-screen, without caring if it has any real-world relevance?

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