Film Hick: Green Lantern by Martin Campbell (2011)
From what I had heard about this movie, I was expecting something a lot worse than what I sat down to watch, and while it is not an amazing film by any stretch of the imagination, it is no way the worst thing that has been shown in the cinema in the name of super heroes.
I am kind of burned out on origin stories and I wish we could just assume, for the sake of the audience coming to a super hero movie, who let’s face it is probably going to be a set of comic book readers on the whole, who are more than familiar with the character, that they know where the main character comes from. If we do this maybe we can tell a compelling story about the character.
The origin story here isn’t anything overly original – it has the requisite themes of responsibility, parental tragedy, and destiny. Hooked up with the second string story about the evil that needs to be defeated, which kind of has its own barely sketched out origin playing out alongside that of the Green Lantern, and what do you have? Something that feels like one of those lesser episodes of Star Trek, where it feels like they have two lesser stories to tell that were bolted together to pad each other out because they don’t have the strength to stand on their own.
Green Lantern has been around for quite a while, but filmically this was a blank slate, and something really interesting could have been done – taking visual cues from the central concept of a man with a ring that builds things based on his imagination. What we get is a lot more pedestrian. And that is what the problem with this film is – not that it is terrible, but that it is lacklustre, hamstrung by its own lack of ambition. It is a shame that franchises are built on the returns of the first movie; it’s a shame and a failing of more than just this movie, that those aiming to build a franchise waste the whole of their shot at telling an interesting story on setting up a future without creating a present.
If you think about it most movies have to tell us where the main characters come from, but is that always the most interesting thing about them? Isn’t where they are going and how they travel the road the most compelling aspect of any character? Sometimes where a character comes from isn’t really where their story starts, and we often jump in feet first with a character mid-flow in a narrative, and we get to learn who they are under pressure. How many people in our lives do we meet at the beginning of their stories? It doesn’t hamper us from working out who they are via the context of the situations they find themselves in and the way they react to them.
Green Lantern might have had the chance to expand his story in a sequel if it was less concerned with the “where from” and instead explored the “who” and the “what”.