Really not as bad as its reputation would have you believe, Green Lantern‘s biggest offense is that it’s just plain old average. Seeing it for the first time in a post-Batman v. Superman world, it comes across as refreshingly upbeat, colourful and – praise the heavens – adept. Unlike recent DC/WB movies, it isn’t afraid to be poppy and fun. Whereas Snyder completely desaturated all the colour from Superman’s technicolor existence, Martin Campbell goes all out and creates a ridiculously vivid cosmic universe that is totally in keeping with Green Lantern’s comic book origins. The cartoony effects and silliness gained a lot of critical flack upon release but I found all of those elements to be both fun and entertaining.
Yes, the script is nothing to write home about but considering how much complex mythology and history they needed to establish in only a few acts, I can forgive them for playing it as safe as far as the plot goes. The real tragedy is they never got the chance to stretch their legs with a sequel as I believe the core team Warner put in place for this movie was almost perfect. With the origin story out of the way and so many great stories to mine from, who knows what they could have come up with?
All of the actors are well cast. Ryan Reynolds is charming as hell (I’ve never read a Green Lantern comic so I can’t judge if his portrayal of Hal Jordan is an honourable one) and his chemistry with Blake Lively is great (I’m not surprised they have since got married and had kids). Even Peter Sarsgaard as the second-tier villain is enjoyable. He spends the last chunk of the film covered in ridiculous rubbery make-up but, again, I sort of loved it for how silly and heightened it is.
I remember this film getting out and out slammed, but I feel like this is exactly the kind of movie DC need to make right now. When Green Lantern was released, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies were the be all end all and dark, gritty grounded superhero stories seemed like the only way to go. It’s funny how in only a few years the tides have turned into the opposite direction. I think this is a case of being the right movie at the wrong time. I suspect Green Lantern‘s failure is what inspired DC to completely eschew the zippy, pop superhero blockbuster and double down on the Nolan approach. Now they’re slowly trying to inject the fun back into their projects, sometimes mid-production. Maybe they should just re-release this? It holds up and is a great palette cleanser for Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.