Comfortable and Furious

Green Lantern

Does anyone believe that Van Wilder is a matinee action star yet?

About the same population that figured Ben Affleck would be the next Tom Cruise. Affleck and Reynolds are pretty good actors in the right setting, if Hollywoodland and Buried were any indication. The producers of Green Lantern figured they could just create an idol if enough money were thrown at the goal; but stars are born, not made. Achieving the status of a Cruise requires a certain megalomania, and an era that would tolerate that sort of nonsense has passed.

Why the Cruise comparison?

Well, in Green Lantern, the hero starts off as a Maverick-type of asshole who writes his own rules, shirks responsibility, and rebels against authority in a inoffensive way. The guy gets his share of ass, shows up late to work, flies $35million fighter jets into the ground, and gets a lecture akin to how his ego dispenses written orders directing a bank to pay money his corporeal form cannot honor. Piloting these jets in a demonstration for unmanned fighters that figures in no way in the story (good use of 1/6 of the entire film), he uses the same maneuvers one saw in Top Gun to outwit the drones. He breaks the hard deck, then crashes when his copilot Goose dies, and he is paralyzed by the trauma of his father’s death. Sadly, no lesbian flight instructors school him in the realities of violating the instructor-student relationship. The dialogue is straight out of Hot Shots.

And how do daddy issues figure into a transgalactic war?

This bullshit arc is awkwardly stapled onto some crap about fear. Fear fear fear fear. The word fear is used more in this film than in Batman Begins.

Wait – this is actually taken seriously?

It is so earnest it is adorable. There is an emerald energy made of pure willpower, which is harnessed to battle evil (which is never actually defined) by an ring-wielding army, and their enemy, Parallax, is able to use yellow-hued fear to destroy entire planets. As far as origin stories go, this is pretty bad. An approach like “Look, this shit’s green, they can do anything with it, so enjoy or fuck off” would be a vast improvement. When you try to explain why Green Lantern can make a big green fist out of his ring, you open up a Pandora’s Box of dumbshittery. Like who are these guys defending the universe against? Can they really travel in faster than light speed and fight enemies in a way that is meaningful after receiving a distress signal that would take several billion years to arrive? What is the mechanism for Will if it isn’t magic? If a small group of immortal psychics are commanding an invincible army, is that really a force for Good, or an unopposed oligarchy that crushes dissension? And why is there so much family drama and weeping over dead, incinerated dad in a comic book movie about a superhero who can be thwarted by yellow road signs?

Is the pace brisk at least?

It resembles The Last Starfighter in that the hero’s resistance to the Call to Adventure takes up 3/4 of the running time. He is taken to the planet Oa to get greened up, trained by Star Trek alien rejects, and then goes home to sulk until he finally decides to use his nearly infinite gifted powers. What turns him around is an inept rescue and that his girlfriend is disappointed in his limited ambitions. This entitled dick is worse than Eragon.

At least Tim Robbins dies, though.

Spoilers behind – his father is a corrupt senator who is attacked by his other brother who is taken over by Fear (don’t ask, really) and he is set on fire. The blare of sad trumpets did nothing to overcome the hilarity.

Any kudos for the supporting cast?

The catering was excellent.

The critics are in love with Peter Saarsgaard.

Oh right. He is infected by Fear from an alien autopsy…

That band is terrible, so I sympathize.

… and mutates, becomes telekinetic, and tries to kill Green Lantern. His character arc veers from creepy to repellent and creepy, and how anyone thought this dead end of a storyline was intriguing explains a lot about how these projects lumber into life. Everyone else is annoying or nonexistent, Blake Lively looks about seventeen and for a brilliant fighter pilot she struggles with sentences more than a few words long, and all of the aliens are Yoda. They are wise because they do not speak much. If only the rest of the movie followed suit, this would have been overwith quickly.

Any bright spots other than the kids behind you coming up with new uses for ‘motherfucker’?

The only display of wit was by a Lantern during combat training. You can do anything with your ring that you can imagine. So while our hero imagines a gun, a rope, and a wall, his adversary casts a neutron star, nearly sucking him in by its gravity. Now that is a serious weapon, my friend. Put a gamma ray burst next door to someone and that could ruin their whole day. This potential was utterly lost on our loser of a protagonist in the final confrontation. Parallax comes to Earth to suck it dry of souls, and Green Lantern attacks it with the following:
– A catapult
– An antiaircraft cannon
– A drill

He flies off into space toward the sun at close to light speed, and the evil Nothing follows him. Then he gets perilously close to the Sun, which apparently affects the massive Parallax more than Green Lantern. Still, the gravitational pull should be massive, and it pulls in the hero and he dies. No wait, he actually casts the most powerful force he can summon to resist the pull of gravity – two standard jet planes that pull him away. Really, two ramjet engine planes that require air intake, rather than solid fuel rockets, or just fucking flying away because Lanterns can cross the universe in the blink of an eye. And he finally kills the Parallax by punching him into the Sun. A goddamned fist punches the greatest threat the universe has ever known… into the Sun. And I am done.