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Critical Mass: 'Green Lantern' takes critics to blackest night

June 17, 2011 |  6:10 pm


The summer of the superhero continues with this weekend's release of "Green Lantern." But if the mostly tepid reviews are any indication, this may be the first major superhero misstep of the summer.

After a double shot of Marvel heroes -- Thor and the X-Men -- it's the DC universe's turn with "Green Lantern." Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, the cocky fighter pilot-turned-emerald savior of the universe. Blake Lively plays his love interest. There's lots of CGI and intergalactic bad guys, and for the most part, the critics seem tired of all of it.

Times critic Kenneth Turan is actually kinder to the film than most of his peers, but though he does grant that the film is "watchable in a comic book kind of way," he ultimately lays the blame at the feet of star Reynolds. He writes, " 'Green Lantern's' biggest problem, never completely overcome, is that there is a serious tonal shift between the devil-may-care Hal Jordan of the opening sections and the dead serious savior of the universe of the finale."

Critic Joe Morgenstern's brief rant in the Wall Street Journal decimates the entire film and everyone involved, from the direction by action veteran Martin Campbell to Lively, who he says "wins this year's Kristin Stewart Award for Indistinct Diction." The only person saved from his blistering criticism is actor Peter Sarsgaard, who plays the villainous Hector Hammond. He says, "Mr. Sarsgaard succeeds in creating a real guy with real passions. Apart from him there's nada."

Manohla Dargis doesn't beat around the bush in her New York Times review: " 'Green Lantern' is bad." She also writes, "If the company is going to shove a property like 'Green Lantern' down consumer throats -- drilling it into your child’s consciousness, sweet tooth, toy emporium and anywhere else the company can place its brand -- the least it can do is give us a good movie."

Just how bad is "Green Lantern"? Well, at least it's not "Battlefield Earth" bad. That's what MSN critic Glenn Kenny says. He writes, "It simply doesn't take itself quite so seriously as to reach those lows." Talk about a backhanded compliment. He says, "As many suggestions as are made over the course of the picture, they never add up to a picture that's willing to forsake its transparently insincere and unnecessary patina of earnestness in order to deliver a just plain good time."

"Green Lantern" does have its fans, however. Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy gave the film a mostly positive review. He wrote, "To be sure, there is enough going on here to keep fans' 3D glasses glued to their heads: In Oa, there is a whole new planet to explore.... The actors are mostly well cast and effective enough and the action comes on frequently, if not always convincingly."

And coming down right in the middle of the pro-"Lanterns" and the anti-"Lanterns" is one of the film's core audience. Reviewer Josie Campbell, writing for Comic Book Resources, says the film is "the seesaw, teetering back and forth between incredible highs and seat-jarring lows." She says, "Ultimately, the problem with 'Green Lantern' is not that it's a bad movie -- it's two good movies haphazardly rammed together."


Costly 'Green Lantern' hopes to shine in its box-office debut

Actor Mark Strong fought against a ponytail version of Sinestro

'Green Lantern' star Ryan Reynolds: 'This is the movie the fans want to see'

--Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: The aliens Kilowog, left, and Tomar-Re share a moment in "Green Lantern." Credit: Warner Bros.

Comments () | Archives (29)

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Critics liked Superman Returns which has to be one of the worst comic book movies ever made.

I like to read what critics think, but I take it with a grain of salt. The only way to know for sure if you like a film is to go see it!

Just got back from seeing the movie. The family and I loved it. The only thing we were disappointed about was when it was finished....we wanted to see more. We wanted more of the message.

I'll make my own "high-brow" assesment for the average joe like myself:

This movie is timely and timeless. Its the classic struggle we all face - finding courage in the face of fear and uncertainty.

So many of us are hurting right now. The movie sent us all an encouraging message.

I was glad I went.

Not surprising. One of the pitfalls of sci fi is the "colliding script" problem. Get me rewrite gets a bunch of ideas that are never expanded.

Many "not so good" sci fi or fantasy films have two or three collding scripts.

Why do these stuffy critics expect something more than a live action comic book?
If I would of had comic book movies like this as a kid, I would have been in heaven. What are they expecting, "My Left Foot"? ... it is what it is, stop with all your Rex Reed Queenie reviews already.

This must be a descent film if the critics hate it! I may actually go see it. :)
Heck, when the critics LOVE a movie.... well.. nuff said.

i saw battlefield earth twice, i thought it was a good movie!

Just got back from seeing the movie...gotta say I enjoyed it more than Thor...I would not say that this movie was a mistake at all...

stupid looking promos. surprise! stupid movie

why do people still waste their time with these men in tights flics?

are people retarded or what?

Lately, critics are so out of touch with the general public, I just don't trust their word anymore.

The main problem is, they've seen it all. The good the bad the ugly and they've become jaded as to why people watch summer movies about comic-book superheroes...because it's still better than not having a comic-book movie.

Anyone that writes a positive review for Green Lantern, AND is over the age of 12, needs to be BANISHED to an island somewhere. It's because of these idiot reviewers, likely paid by the studios to write these "friendly" reviews, that hard working Americans are TRICKED into seeing this garbage. Anyone with an IQ over 50 that's seen the trailers for this movie can tell how abhorent it is!! PLEASE be honest when reviewing these movies!!

The 3-D was not as nauseating as in earlier films. That was a good beginning. Like most of the superhero films, the viewer needs to suspend critical judgement, and follow the exclamation points created by the Director.

The Green Lantern shot a par for the superhero course. Ryan Reynolds looked great, but lacked inner fire enough to bring out his passion near the end of the film. It was as good as the second Iron Man, and better than Thor. The special effects , and score, may not the heart & soul of the film, but they have to be effective. I wasn't impressed with either. They were adequate, not fantastic. The story was good, leaving the door open for the next film, but it was predictable not edgy or new. Maybe the superheroes have done everything already, and there is nothing left to wish for. I wish the critics who make a living at viewing, and reviewing movies didn't have to invent such drama, especially about films derived from comic books.

It was good a good enough film that I will go see the sequel

I saw the movie friday afternoon and it was good!
Once one critic writes a review, good or bad the rest of the "criticizers" most likely will fallow. Hey, if you cant fight them way not join them.

I probebly saw the same amount of movies as any other movie critic (probably more) And the only difference between us viewers and them critics is that they get payed to watch movies and we pay to watch movies.

Once I watch a movie trailer for the first time I either want watch the movie or I don't. And after seeing ads and trailers on tv and billboards everywhere until the movie comes out, I don't need a critic to come and tell me that my feelings and instinct are wrong and I should not watch this movie. well, unless its all reverse psychology ;-)

Here is my favorite review of Green Lantern so far. It's completely incoherent by some Finnish film reviewer attempting to write in English. It's like something Borat would write.


Best movie of the summer so far!! Awesome special effects and story line!!

I am an UNPAID critic and unlike most that are making it as a living, most of them sell what they are paid to sell and put down what thay are paid to put out!

It's a race to the bottom in Hollywood.

Save your money.

The movie is horrible -don't waste your money.

I saw the Green Lantern One Day of Release. In Hollywood Quick Reads get the buy from Studios it seems. This Movie...did the same thing with the story/scenes. No smart back story or time to -feel the characters-or relationships and vengeance.

The rival was about the cheapest in effects (think ed wood style with a computer).

I was shocked Tim Robins took a role in this. (all though he played strong compared to others). Residuals? Perhaps.

It had potential, but looked like a 30 day (if even that) principal shoot... if even that. Story was all chopped up in the wrong placed (bad edits) .

Keep in mind, this is for kids so that part was met.

Scale of 1 to 10 is: 4 (being nice).

Ryan Reynolds... put this film credit in your (Buried Set Coffin). Sell it on ebay or craigslist.

Why do we try to make it more than it is... It is good entertainment... And Ryan Reynolds was the right entertainer to portray "The Green Lantern"

In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those that worship evil's might
Beware my power-- Green Lantern's light!

Hey DC fans: Does anyone even read "Green Lantern" anymore? He should have been working on "Deadpool" instead.

Green Lantern movie was worth every cent to see and I will be buying the blu-ray but you really need to see it in the theatre to appreciate it's special effects.

Green Lantern: well edited storyline, good visuals, simple though entertaining story. It's totally worth seeing in the theatre, and it is exactly what it is: A film based on a Marvel comic.

Why do people expect films based on comic books to be Oscar winners. Why so critical all the time? Why the need to massage their pseudointellectual egos by putting down good, honest, entertaining movies? To all the trash-mouthed hipster wanna-sound-smart-through-slander bigots out there: up yours. Green Lantern is awesome.

It's not Waterworld bad... but, it's not even as good/bad as Dune. Too gimicky, not enough genuine story and apart from the villian, every actor is boring, disingenuous. Ryan is a cuttie, but still a boy with an 'above it all' attitude. It didn't work.

Maybe Brian Singer could have done better.

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