dir: Martin Campbell
Well, this was a bad idea.
I know the people at DC Comics must be deeply envious of all the tainted money Marvel is earning through the morass of movies it’s been putting out lately (Iron Men, Thor, Captain America, et bloody cetera), but that’s no reason to try and convert every hero on its roster into a Hollywood product. This was, just… fuck… bad all the way through.
Imagine peering off a ledge into an abyss, and feeling the fear it naturally engenders. Step back, but then realise that it’s not an abyss, because it’s filled with shit, shit all the way down.
That’s kind of how I felt watching most of this flick. In a year which has already seen the release of a terrible flick with Green Something as the title, this terrible property wasn’t going to get an easy run. It doesn’t help that it’s such a dumb premise.
I will admit that I’ve never read word one of a Lantern comic, nor am I ever likely to. I don’t doubt that there’s possibly abundant wonderfulness to be found therein, but I’ve just got no goddamn interest. You could rightly wonder why, in that case, I would go out of my way to watch a film about a character and a storyline I have no interest in. Also, considering the poor reviews, I should have known that there wasn’t going to be much of worth to latch onto.
Well, good point. I can’t argue against it. I went in expecting something substandard, and found it was even worse than I could possibly have imagined.
The reasons why aren’t really due to the silliness of the premise (bunch of people with magic rings) or the Big Bad (an angry cloud), it’s just the array and the sequence of bad decisions made along the way that deliver this abortion as an end result.
It doesn’t help that Ryan Reynolds is terrible as the lead character, either. I have, no shit, seen him deliver a good performance as an actor. I’m sure he’s capable of great acting, since, after all, he did convince Scarlett Johansson to marry him, and that’s pretty good work, for a Canadian. Mostly, though, his performances and his voice make me feel like someone is yanking a nerve out of my neck with some pliers.
He was great in a flick called Buried that came out last year, as a truck driver trapped in a makeshift coffin underground. Really decent microbudget flick.
Here, he’s the king of the douchebags, playing a completely uninteresting character, investing it with all the shallowness and callowness he can muster.
You didn’t know this, but the two great forces that shape and afflict the universe are Will and Fear. Will is a comforting, powerful green, and Fear is a pus-like yellow colour. Where people master the force of Will, they can do wonderful things. When Fear overwhelms them, they’re fucked, mostly because Fear is just The Dark Side, and we all know how bad the Dark Side is. Mostly, it robs actors of their ability to act, and reduces them to saying nothing but stuff about The Dark Side.
Ages ago, a bunch of the ‘good’ guy Jedi-like ninnies constructed fancy objects they call lanterns to capture this Will energy, which they use to recharge these nifty rings, which allow the wearer to think up whatever and do whatever they desire.
As long as they have the Will, but not the Fear.
Some evil Fear thing bursts forth from some clearly inadequate prison where it was imprisoned, uh, way back last Tuesday. Some CGI purple dude with a thick Maori accent fights big Fear cloud thing, and gets his arse handed to him. Crashing on earth, his magic power ring seeks out the closest person within an 100 kilometre radius who is best able to wield this ring, because he should have no Fear fucking up his Will.
This results in Ryan Reynolds, as a hotshot pilot called Hal Jordan, going from being a smarmy, smirking, entitled jerk to becoming a super-powered smarmy, smirking, entitled super jerk.
And the ring? It just does whatever you want, or whatever a lazy team of screenwriters want, or whatever a dull script needs to chug the flick along to the next dispiriting sequence.
The script, from beginning to end, is, to put it simply, fucking retarded. You could make a clean delineation between the ‘real’ human elements of the script, and the science-fictiony ones, but that doesn’t help, because the ‘realistic’ parts of the movie set up are even less believable and affecting that the magical/super-powers aspects.
Who thought retreading the lamest plot points from Top Gun would be a good idea? Who thought making this guy so thoroughly and generically unlikable would somehow make his quest for dealing with his fears anything other than laughable? Who thought turning Peter Sarsgaard, who can be a pretty good actor quite often, into the Elephant Man as a secondary villain was a good idea?
Who thought it would be enjoyable to watch any of this? Whoever that person or those persons are, you should not be working today. There are both more competent and less competent people out there who are more deserving of the opportunity to make films and get paid. Those of you involved in this terrible flick thought only that because it was a comic book property, the money would roll right in no matter how terrible the script.
So many poor decisions… The CGI suit, the CGI mask, the way his eyes change colour for no good reason, the stupid stuff he ‘thinks’ of to save the day, the great character actors like Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett slumming it in a flick way below what should be their standards, the pure hackiness of it all; it just reeks of “Comic book nerds are idiots that’ll swallow any shit we do, so it doesn’t matter”.
And yet the flick still cost $200 million to make. Considering that there’s constant and unnecessary CGI in virtually every scene, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised it cost that much, but it doesn’t really add anything. This much CGI and greenscreening, in a flick that never felt believable or grounded in anything human, just emphasises how hollow it all is.
Because the flick never gave me a reason to give a damn about the main character, because none of the premise engaged me in the slightest, because the main villain is a toothy cloud o’ floating evil, because the secondary villain is so badly ill-used, and because practically the only good thing in the flick is Blake Lively, this flick was never going to past muster for me. It’s too stupid, too flighty, too groundless and too much of an empty cartoon. And I say that as someone who likes cartoons. Sorry, animated movies, I meant to say, hurriedly.
Actually, there’s one other person in it who I like, being Taika Waititi, who made and starred in the most excellent Kiwi flick Boy a couple of years ago. He also directed a bunch of Flight of the Concordes episodes as well. He’s completely wasted here, since his job is simply to ask exposition-type questions for Hal Jordan to answer presumably for the audience’s benefit. I’m just glad Taika got a decent payday.
Everyone else, on the other hand? Give the money back, give it to charity, donate it to Amnesty International or just drop it into the dirty outstretched hand of a News of the World former editor. You don’t deserve it, because what you made is terrible, though it does stand out in such abundant times as a symbol of true, lazy mediocrity. I didn’t think any superhero-action flicks were going to be as terrible, in the modern era, as those Fantastic Four flicks, but somehow you managed it.
Take a bow, you loathsome hacks
3 times I think there’s secretly a plot afoot to make us hate the Greens through molesting the media we watch out of 10
“Help me save my planet. Don't give into fear. Fight it... fight it with me.” – based on this flick, our planet’s not really worth saving – Green Lantern.