Saturday, 16 July 2011

Green Lantern - a film review

2011 has been so good for superhero films and Green Lantern, following after Thor and X-Men: First Class, continues a theme of quality escapist film fun.

Green Lantern has always been on the second tier of DC superheroes, so well known to comic fans but not well recognised beyond that community. This film provided a clear distillation of the basics of his origin. Ryan Reynolds provides a sympathetic portrayal of Hal Jordan (Green Lantern's secret identity, as we used to say) and certainly has the physicality for the role.

Hal is quickly summoned to the Green Lantern corps and a fairly straightforward comic book plot ensues. The action is perfectly satisfactory although personally I found the jet fighter hi jinks that formed part of the origin story the most exciting section.

Superhero films have, for some reason, now taken the place of sci-fi films in previous decades so it was rather wonderful that important sections of this film were set in space. To see the stars and alien worlds, to see (albeit alien) astronauts and all sorts of imaginary space hardware was a thrill after a long dearth of sf films actually set beyond Earth.

Perhaps the weakest part of the production visually were the Guardians. We can now recognise the visual signature of cg depicting faces and these had all the usual clues. I really liked Mark Strong's portrayal of Sinestro as a somewhat dour old veteran which offset Ray Reynold's rather gung ho and shallow seeming Hal Jordan.

Curiously, an interesting theme of nepotism seemed to weave through what was otherwise perfectly satisfactory superhero action. Perhaps the idea was that this reflected upon and illuminated the fate of the lead character, but Ryan Reynold's performance, attractive as it was, was never quite serious enough to bring this out in a proper emotional form.

So, in conclusion, really good fun and another solid attempt to bring the outlandish vistas of the hyper-imaginings of comic books to the big screen for a mainstream audience. It certainly did not deserve the demolition job early reviews gave it and it would be a great shame if the reception this film has been given causes DC to pause or cancel any plans to adapt other members of its superhero stables to the cinema.

It will be interesting to see what effect DC's imminent plans to relaunch all its titles has on any plans to release further superhero films. For instance, for such an iconic character it seems Superman is going to be altered quite a bit and I am intrigued as to whether the new Superman film will stay with his classic look or adopt his new look. It may not be big changes (bigger boots and a new belt or something) but for such a well recognised character it's a big decision.

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