Critical Mass: 'Green Lantern' takes critics to blackest night
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."
--Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: The aliens Kilowog, left, and Tomar-Re share a moment in "Green Lantern." Credit: Warner Bros.