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Green Lantern: A Tale of Two Jizz Fogs

By / 06.17.11

I wish I could tell you that Martin Campbell fought the good fight, and actually attempted to make a good movie.  I wish I could tell you that.  But Hollywood is no fairy tale world.  Sometimes a director is able to fight off a bad movie idea. Sometimes not.

You get the sense that a lot of people thought, “Green Lantern? Sure, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable title for a movie, I could see that on lunchboxes and underwear.” And things sort of went on like that, with everyone mildly agreeing that it seemed like a movie someone should make, but no one being particularly excited to make it.   There are a lot of problems with Green Lantern, not the least of which being a climactic scene in which Ryan Reynolds conjures a giant Hot Wheels track out of magic green fog jizz from space, but I think you could trace most of them back to the fact that it’s just vague.  It’s all forgettable broad strokes with no specificity, more like someone half-assing a superhero mad lib.  “Okay, so the hero wears a spandex… blank, and he has to stop the villain, …blank, from stealing the world’s… blank.”  A few of the blanks they didn’t even bother filling in.

So Ryan Reynolds plays talented-but-irresponsible test pilot Hal Jordan.  In the first scene, he’s late to his big plane fight demonstration, to which he’s driving in his superhero-y classic muscle car from his superhero-y commercial loft space with mountain bikes and skateboards hanging from the walls (f*cking protagonists always have the coolest apartments, don’t they? Their real estate agents are the real superheroes). When he gets to the base, his fellow test pilot, Blake Lively — yes, Blake Lively, who plays a fastidious test pilot, because that is a believable role for a tastefully fake-titted 23-year-old with perfect features and hair like a Pantene commercial — is angry with him because he hasn’t studied for his plane test, and also because they used to bone or something.  But Hal Jordan doesn’t need to study, because he is a cocksure young maverick who leads with his balls, and has spent his whole life breaking all the rules with his huge balls. After he chutzpahs the drones to death (the robot planes who would replace him), embarrassing the defense contractor who hired him (who’s also Blake Lively’s father or something), Hal has to pull his plane out of a spin.  Only he can’t, because he’s chosen this preposterously inopportune moment to have a flashback about his dead father.  And to think, when I saw this scene played for laughs in Hot Shots, I assumed I’d never again be asked to take it seriously.  Anyway, Hal ejects, destroying a 20 kajillion dollar plane, and suddenly everyone’s pissed at him for being such an incorrigible rogue.  With all the ridiculously hot authority figures and talented rebels, for a while I thought I was watching Top Gun, until I realized the only gay overtones were me wondering how Ryan Reynolds’ hair smelled.

After that, the purple alien Abin-Sur crash lands on Earth and shortly before dying, bequeaths to Hal Jordan a magic space ring.  Now, ignoring all the stuff I wrote in that previous paragraph, this is where things start to go downhill.

Hal goes up to space to learn about the Green Lantern Corps, who we’re told defend the universe by harnessing “the energy of pure willpower,” as represented here by green jizz fog.  For the first time in their history, the Corps faces a genuine threat in Parallax, an enemy who has learned to harness the “energy of fear,” as represented by yellow jizz fog.  That’s right, the foundation of this story is a conflict between two abstract concepts, as represented by two abstract entities.  Remember what I said about it being vague?  “Pure will can overcome fear” is the obvious message, which is fine, everything needs a message, I guess.  There just isn’t a lot of room for nuance.  Contrast this with, say, X-Men, which is a layered allegory for mankind’s fear of outsiders.  Not only is the underlying metaphor more interesting (do you wage war on those who misunderstand you because they hate you, or try to help them understand you?), the way it’s represented leaves room for interesting battles.  The characters have specific powers and relative strengths.  In Green Lantern, the good and bad guys can both conjure dueling mind sculptures with their jizz fog, but why one’s jizz fog overcomes the other’s in a particular situation is mostly unclear (is it more viscous? more dense with fog sperms?).  And yes, their jizz sculptures are mostly hilarious, like watching a super-serious episode of Aquateen Hunger Force where Meatwad’s powers to transform into a hot dog or an igloo qualify him to defend the universe. OH NO, RYAN REYNOLDS! THE ALIEN’S BRAIN DOG IS EATING YOUR MIND HOMEWORK!  CONJURE UP A NEWSPAPER AND TEACH HIM A LESSON!

The actors do their best and the writers try to keep things light, but they’re no match for the overwhelming lameness of this material. Ryan Reynolds’ charming glibness in acknowledging lame plot points doesn’t quite justify lame plot points. “Gee whiz, isn’t my life stupid?”  Yes, Ryan, it is.  You look like your balls would smell nice though.

GRADE: Full disclosure, here I had a bit of a debate with myself. I realize I gave Super 8 a D, because Super 8 sucked. Green Lantern is probably dumber, more tone deaf and more inept, but… there’s a certain charm to pure ineptness, like watching a puppy try to lick itself and fall off the couch. It’s oddly cute.  For some reason, a slick, well-acted story with great visuals disguising the fact that it actually has nothing to say is more repellant, more painful to sit through. At least with Green Lantern I got some laughs. Also, I would pay good money to watch Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively make sex to each other.  Think about it, Warner Brothers.  C-


TAGSblake livelyGREEN LANTERNreviewsRyan Reynolds

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