Release Date: August 11
Movie producers continue to mine the seemingly inexhaustible supply of American comic book heroes with the release of Green Lantern. But a seemingly harmless storyline about overcoming fear ends up giving humanity a far greater standing than it’s due.
Green Lantern is based on the venerable DC Comics series by the same name that has been published from 1940 to the present day. The big screen version introduces Ryan Reynolds (Definitely Maybe, Buried) as Hal Jordan, a test pilot with something closely approximating a death wish. Hal has grown up in the shadow of his father, another test pilot who died tragically in front of him. Since then he has sought to overcome his fears by pushing himself ever closer to edge of survival. When a dying alien crash lands on earth, Hal finds himself selected as the newest member of The Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar police force powered by emerald rings that channel pure will power. But is Hal’s will strong enough to defeat the monster Parallax who feeds on fear?
Yes, there’s a lot to take in. Frankly that’s one of the criticisms I have of the film. Producers have lavished money on the special effects but it doesn’t stop the first 15 minutes from sounding like a history lesson – even if it’s voiced by Geoffrey Rush. And there’s nothing terribly memorable about the plot that follows, with scriptwriters indulging most of the standard scenes we’ve come to expect from this genre: hero struggles with responsibility; heroine helps him understand himself better; hero reaches deep down and discovers the courage he needs; the villain is defeated by a seemingly superfluous piece of information the hero remembers at the last moment.
Green Lantern is clearly the vanguard of a new franchise and the crafting of such a ‘vanilla’ production is just as clearly aimed at maximizing consumers. DC comics will relaunch the comic book character in September and toy stores are already stocking up on a wide range of action figures that each enjoy a few frames of film time. Still, Green Lantern might have been an adventure my under-10 boys could have enjoyed were it not for the blood curdling screams and unnecessary torture scenes that just pushed it into an M classification. However the element that makes me most uncomfortable is the emphasis it places on human will.
The Green Lantern Corps draw their power from “… the most powerful force in the universe” – will power. In fact Hal Jordan’s abilities are only limited by the strength of his will. It’s a comic book retelling of that other Hollywood fiction, ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’. Submission of the human will to any force other than its own is, of course, the real evil. And Green Lantern identifies fear as the ultimate enemy to be overcome. When you put the two together, there doesn’t seem to be much room for humbling ourselves before the will of God, and kneeling in holy fear.