Somewhere, out there, beyond our solar system, exist other planets, other galaxies, other races. For generations an elite group of superheroes, made up of representatives from these different civilisations, have guarded their worlds, and ours, from any evil which threatens the peace and stability of the universe. They are ‘The Green Lantern Corps’. But now, for the first time in their existence, they are facing a new evil – one so powerful, that he threatens the very fabric of the universe. His name is Parallax.
Fatally wounded by Parallax, one of the senior members of the corps just manages to land his spaceship on earth, where he passes his transforming ring and it’s power generating green lantern (hey, I know this sounds daft but stick with it, it gets better), to an unwitting all American test pilot called Hal (Ryan Reynolds), who becomes the first human member of the corps, and whose destruction becomes the sole focus of Parallax.
It’s terribly unprofessional for a critic to be so blatant when writing about a film – they should try at least to have some neutrality. But I don’t care. I’m going to say it. I absolutely LOVED The Green Lantern! Ignore all those scare mongers who have been writing disparaging things about yet another ‘superhero’ extravaganza, because this film is two hours of wham, bam, noisy (very noisy), garish fun.
Although my opening synopsis may seem over simplified, it isn’t really as the film’s storyline is, ultimately, relatively simple. I managed to follow it, for most of the time anyway, and I’m not even going to start to analyse it here, because actually there’s not a lot to analyse. Strange otherworldly life-force chooses insignificant, weak (emotionally if not physically) human to save his own planet and ultimately the universe from an evil titanic force, out to destroy anything and anyone that stands in it’s way. Suffice to say that the simplicity of the premise works in it’s favour. The time you’d otherwise waste trying to make sense of a convoluted plot, can be spent wallowing in the sheer exuberance of the film, and it’s sumptuous visuals. There are a few places where the film falters, mainly involving the appearance of the various alien life forms, but it more than makes up for this with the scenes set on earth. Even I found the those involving Hal and his airborne dog fight with the government’s ultimate combat planes exciting (all be it a bit Top Gun‘ish), and I generally hate anything even slightly military in flavour. As for Hal’s apartment! I want that place – how do fictional heroes always manage to live in to die for apartments, while seemingly having little visible means of financing their upkeep.
The other thing I found slight out of keeping with the majority of superhero films, was the fact that the super villains in this one are not particularly attractive. When you think of the foes that Batman and Spiderman come up against, they are usually pretty suave, often with even better outfits that the heroes. But here there is nothing whatsoever appealing about Parallax, and the misfit he chooses as his representative on earth (who looks like the elephant man with a bad head). Still, who cares. When Hal transforms to his new alter-ego, you are literally left open mouthed that anyone green could look that good.
I hold the view that (sometimes) the less you know about a film before hand, the better. And this is where I feel my advantage lay with The Green Lantern. I admit that I’m not your average comic book fan. I go to the film adaptations when they come out and, most of the time, enjoy them for what they are – popcorn movies, a bit of fun. But this is because I generally know nothing about the stories, the characters, or the mythology, before hand. I come to it fresh and as a result enjoy them (most of the time). Now I don’t wish to upset the legions of comic book fans out there (many of whom read this magazine), or mock their dedication to their heroes – to you this film may well be a travesty, who knows. But please, these films are never likely to win Oscars for the cast’s acting prowess (Heath Ledger aside). They really aren’t designed to be taken that seriously. And this is where The Green Lantern wins over other films in the comic book genre, because it doesn’t!
I’m not saying it doesn’t look expensive (it reputedly cost $200 million to produce), or professionally executed (the whole cast, including Tim Robbins as the pre-requisite, unfeeling business tycoon, put in very capable performances). But where other franchises, Batman, Spiderman and The X-Men etc, approach what are (let’s be honest here) situations which would generally only appeal to pre-pubescent teenagers, as if the world depended on it, lantern boy looks, after some initial misgivings, as though he’s actually enjoying himself. Of course the world does depend on his conquering a despicable evil which threatens to destroy the insignificant and underdeveloped planet earth (why is the human race always seen as inferior to other species that apparently inhabit the universe?), but he does it with such verve (and a hint of a grin), that you are carried along by his pure joy-de-verve at his new super capabilities, and soon forget the sheer preposterousness of the whole situation. That he doesn’t initially get a warm welcome from his fellow Lanterns, only serves to get the public behind him – go for it boy. Show those aliens that mankind won’t be stamped out so easily.
I’d give this movie the green light any day, and personally can’t wait for the inevitable follow-up(s)! Oh, and watch it until the end of the credits – there’s a suggestion of possible things to come.