Green Lantern (2011): No, Just…NO!
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
Ryan Reynolds has definitely had a rocky career in the 2000s and early 2010s, mostly starring in romantic comedies and subpar superhero action films. But this one…has to be the worst of the worst. Far worse than his supporting role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So much potential was had for Green Lantern, but it couldn’t even manage to meet the bare minimum expectations. And get this, during COVID-19 quarantine a fan reached out to Ryan on Twitter asking if Green Lantern was worth renting for $0.99. Ryan’s response: WALK AWAY!
Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds) is an Air Force pilot minding his own business when a blinding green light transports him to the wreckage of an alien ship. The dying alien inside is a part of an intergalactic peacekeeping force known as Green Lantern Corps, telling Hal that the Green Lantern’s ring chose him before dying. After becoming the first human inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, Hal is trained by Kilowog (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) and Sinestro (played by Mark Strong). But a new cosmic threat emerges in the form of former Lantern turned fear demon Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown) and he has his sights on Earth, it is up to Hal to save Earth and prove his worth to the other Lanterns.
How bad does a movie have to be to waste the talents of Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Taika Waititi (yes, he was in this), Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Michael Clarke Duncan, and many more? Well…it has to be really bad. Green Lantern really gave no room for any of the performances to feel natural, charismatic, funny, or even be taken seriously. The story really crutches on cliches and tropes from superhero and action movies but they are nowhere near unique or even creative, making this story boring and painful to watch. Perhaps the worst case of this was throwing in the tragic death of Hal’s father in a plane testing accident. It both comes out of nowhere and is a very uninteresting layer to Hal Jordan, an already one-dimensional superhero. To make matters worse, the dialogue didn’t help either, feeling both unnatural and melodramatic at times. It just really made for a cringy, painful-to-watch story.
Speaking of the poor writing, the villains in this film are just horrible. Not in a scary demented sense, but poorly-written. Parallax is one of the first in a long line of DC CGI monstrosities with few character traits other than destroying civilizations because…power and such. They even wasted Mr. Krabs’ voice actor Clancy Brown, who deserved so much better than this lazy writing. Plus, if he were so powerful, how did it literally take the annoyance of a single human Green Lantern to destroy him? Parallax’s defeat never felt earned, even though it was supposed to be important for Hal’s character arc. The secondary villain, Hector Hammond (played by Peter Sarsgaard), is somehow even worse than Parallax. He’s a smart guy who is considered a disappointment by his father and has a creepy infatuation with Blake Lively’s Carol Ferris and seems to be friendly with Hal Jordan. But they never do anything with these character traits. It could have made for a complex villain-hero dynamic that we could mostly understand and sympathize with. But in the end, Hammond just became a creepy disfigured vessel for Parallax.
If you are not familiar with Ryan Reynolds, he has a sense of humor and charisma many men wish they had, myself included. For the most part, it works in all of his films, except this one. Somehow, Ryan’s humor just didn’t feel in tandem with the movie’s story or tone (or lack thereof). While some of his jokes do work and are pretty funny, at other times it just felt forced, such as the moment when Hal showed his friend Thomas (played by Taika Waititi) his Green Lantern suit for the first time. Just let Ryan be Ryan next time like the executives at Fox did with Deadpool.
Since we are on the topic of Green Lantern’s suit, this has to be some of the worst cases of CGI I have ever seen in a film! The film had a budget of roughly $200 million and yet the visual effects look extremely cheap and dull, taking anyone that sees it out of the movie-watching experience. Hal’s suit was a motion capture suit with effects done later in post production. While that can work in a movie’s favor, look at Avengers: Endgame, a real Green Lantern suit would have worked more easily in making us believe in the world of this superhero. Plus, whenever using the ring to create anything, it still didn’t look realistic. I’ve seen smaller budgets have cleaner visual effects than this movie. You know you goofed up when Zack Snyder has a more visually-accepting version of Green Lantern in less than a minute than a movie title Green Lantern!
Green Lantern the film ad a lot of problems in story, tone, visual effects and misusing Ryan Reynolds signature sarcastic sense of humor. Of course there were a couple of highlights such as the bromance between Ryan and Taika Waititi, which made their cringy exchanges much more bearable. But if we didn’t get Green Lantern, we never would have gotten one of Hollywood’s biggest power couples: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. They were probably the best thing to come out of this film and possibly the only reason anyone will want to revisit this atrocity.