LeBron James vs. 'Green Lantern': Who's gotten the worse reviews?
When it comes to pop culture superheroes, it's hard to say who's gotten worse reviews in the past few days--the Miami Heat's LeBron James for his disappearing act in Game 6 of the NBA Finals or Warner Bros.' "Green Lantern," which is being battered by critics left and right in the run-up to its release Friday.
After leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and, well. cavalierly boasting that he was taking his talents to South Beach, James had a bull's-eye on his back all season long in the NBA. After the Heat ran out of gas against the Dallas Mavericks last Sunday, with James either missing key shots or passing them up in the Heat's fourth-quarter meltdown, fans wasted no time in mocking His LeBroness.
It didn't help matters when LeBron grumbled after his team's defeat that everyone who'd been rooting for him to fail "got to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before." T-shirts appeared with a photo of James under the slogan: "Maybe Next Year." Twitter devotees proclaimed Monday "National LeBron James Day," calling it a holiday when celebrators were encouraged to leave work 12 minutes early (12 minutes being the length of an NBA quarter). And Ohio Gov. John Kasich piled on, issuing a proclamation honoring the Mavericks, pointedly praising Mavs' MVP Dirk Nowitzki for "keeping his talents in Dallas."
"Green Lantern" has been getting an equally rude reception from movie fans who were underwhelmed by the studio's early trailers and never especially enthused over the casting of Ryan Reynolds in the lead role. Warners has spent almost as much money on the film's marketing campaign as the Heat shelled out for James, with showbiz insiders saying the "Green Lantern" campaign might be the most expensive in modern-day Hollywood history.
You could tell that Warners knew it was in trouble when studio boss Jeff Robinov, speaking to the New York Times the other day, tried to ratchet down expectations as low as possible, essentially saying that the studio would be happy if the movie simply performed well enough to merit a sequel.
And, oh yes, what about those reviews? The film has a lowly 24 fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics calling the film another depressing example of studio summer-movie sludge. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, whose magazine is owned by Warners' parent company, said that "the whole movie is eye candy, and not much more." The Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore kept it simple: "Mark 'The Green Lantern' down as one comic book movie too many, one more 3-D ticket worth skipping."
The Associated Press' Christy Lemire blasted the film's 3-D effects, calling them needless and murky, then wrote off the film as "a joyless amalgamation of expository dialogue and special effects that aren't especially special." Where all the money from the movie's budget went was a puzzler, with the New York Times' Manohla Dargis saying that "it's shocking how little $150 million buys you in Hollywood these days."
Of course, that's exactly what Miami Heat fans have been saying about all the megabucks spent putting together the dream team of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. After the team assembles a retooled supporting cast, the Heat's Big Three will get another shot at an NBA title next year. I suspect that "Green Lantern" will manage to make enough money to justify a sequel as well, though the studio will no doubt bring in a retooled team of its own in the form of a new director and a scrum of highly paid screenwriters who will be called upon to write a slightly less moronic storyline.
But it will probably take "Green Lantern" almost as long to win the abiding love of America's fanboys as it will for LeBron to win over the nation's basketball junkies. In showbiz as well as sports, money never seems to buy happiness.
Photo: Ryan Reynolds at the premiere of "Green Lantern" in Hollywood. Credit: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters