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Green Lantern

Entry updated 19 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (2011). Warner Brothers Pictures presents a De Line Pictures/DC Entertainment production. Directed by Martin Campbell. Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg; screen story by Berlanti, Green and Guggenheim. Cast includes Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong and Taika Waititi. 114 minutes. Colour, 3D (converted).

After rivals Marvel Comics roared into a cinematic lead by establishing their own studio and franchising a rapid succession of key properties in new film versions in a single crossover-friendly universe, DC Comics in their long-standing partnership with Warners finally launched a new film franchise around one of their own major characters with this nervous, densely canonical vehicle for their most cosmically ambitious science-fictional creation. The film version revisits the 1959 genesis of DC's silver-age Green Lantern, a second-generation test pilot haunted by his father's death and his own fear of responsibility, who is recruited into an intergalactic police corps fuelled by chromatic emotional energy, and immediately finds himself having to defend Earth from a universe-threatening cosmic intelligence, and is involved in the destruction of Coast City, the DC Comics name for a great city in California, probably Los Angeles. The Green Lantern Corps, whose mythos was expansively reinvigorated in the 2000s by DC writer Geoff Johns (a consultant on the film), embody an extraordinary dreamlike power of interstellar flight and materialization of thought, fuelled from a battery world at the centre of the universe by an energy economy rooted in a septet of basic emotions with associated chromatic bands of the visible spectrum. Commitment-phobic pilot Hal Jordan thus finds his Hollywood-friendly personal battle between willpower and terror literally written in the stars and played out in the fabric of the cosmos with the fate of the world as its stakes.

Like Marvel's near-simultaneous Thor (2011), the film marks a somewhat diffident move into a kind of cosmic Space Opera long ingrown in Comics but previously kept at arm's length in Superhero cinema. Campbell has worked on the edge of sf with two above-average Bond films and the television and film versions of Edge of Darkness (1985; film 2010), but his only previous credits in the genre were No Escape (1994) and the Gale Anne Hurd-produced Cthulhu Mythos fantasy Cast a Deadly Spell (1991); neither offered much preparation for the full-on digital worldscapes and motion-capture puppetry on which this film rests, and the film is visibly unenthused by its alien environments, despite boasting the largest number of Alien species yet seen in a single film, albeit mostly in longshot crowd sequences. The story staggers under the weight of canon material, but the two most exciting supporting characters still spend the whole film stuck in the larval forms of their familiar roles from the comics, and this amiable enough origin story reads like a promissory note for a more interesting sequel. [NL]


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