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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)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I happen to agree with most of the critics. Though I enjoy the Green Lantern comics, to be honest-- the movie just fell short. In too many ways. But unlike the critics, I believe there was only true problem with the film.

It was simply too short. With most blockbuster films, the typical length is anywhere from 120 minutes to 150 minutes. Green Lantern had a total running time of 105 minutes. But that's just the 'math' of it. There was also a distinctive FAST-PACE feeling to the film, that left me hoping and even praying the film would slow down and organically deal with root of the story.

But this echoes the voice of Josie Campbell of CBR, doesn't it? Perhaps readers of the book are seeing something the critics don't. Potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. In simple, non- prententious language, it is what a movie should be ... FUN!

I can not stand haters! And all of the above critics are exactly that!

The movie was great! The story, the acting, the message...all of it was amazing!

I think these critics need a different job, one that they are actually good at!

Can't wait to see a part 2

I'm honestly not sure what people expect with the "tonal shift" from carefree to serious at the end of the movie. Really..I go from being a typical person with a job to "saviour of the universe" and yeah I think I'd take that stuff a little serious. It's a COMIC book movie. For Pete's sake. It's not High Art. It's not Drama. It's not weeping in the ailes literature of the 1800s. It's something that we read as kids and we still sneak as adults because we need that downtime to enjoy something in our busy lives that just brings back that spark of a time when we still beleived that the world was good, that evil got it's tail kicked, and that there was something bigger and more than a dead end job worth figthing for.

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