Yesterday, I promised to post a movie review of the Green Lantern film, from a cultural studies perspective. Whatever you do, please ignore the professional critics. On Rotten Tomatoes.com, as of now, the so called experts have given the film a 24% rating, while the audience, you know the little people, gave it over a 70%.
Now, for the review.
Two weeks ago, I saw The Hangover 2. The Hangover series, Wedding Crashers, Old School, Accepted, Van Wilder, Harold & Kumar and just about any other type of those films you can name have this as their theme, see if this sounds familiar: a man and his friends party it up for the first 60 minutes of the moveie; they discover their actions have consequences; suddenly, for the next fifteen minutes, everything bad starts to happen; the man and his friends make the right choice, after procrastinating throughout the film to do so; the movie ends on a high note, after making “the right choice” once in their lives, they “party on dudes!”
This phenom is what some people call the “Peter Pan Syndrome” or “man-boy” comedy genre of film. The wonderful thing about the Green Lantern film is that it provided a counter-narrative to deconstruct these stories. At the start of the film, after the origins are explained by a narrator, Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds) is caught with his pants down as he discovers he is late to work. In the background, thee is a Sum 41 song playing (remember, that one band, from like 2002?). The character arch for Hal throughout the film is a growing process, from being unsure of himself and irresponsible, though not as arrogant as Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark in Iron Man, into a man who has a greater purpose in life, as part of the world community. This was best demonstrated when Hal was going through training, he learned that his power came from the collective will of all the living creatures in the universe.
It is the discovery of that burden, which he initially reject, that Hal slowly begins to carry. But not only that, there is no “That Moment” where Hal makes up his mind to do the right thing, and then slide back into childish nonsense. Instead, because becoming a hero involves more a process in Green Lantern, there are several times in the film where Hal Jordan faces the choice of either running away from his fears or overcoming them. Contrast this to the lifestyle promoted by your average man-boy comedy, where, just like a college student procrastinates the night before a test, so does the will to act appropriately come for the protagonists. Yet after the drama is over, the men-boys go back to the irresponsible ways. Until the sequel.
Not so with Green Lantern. I would highly recommend that you see it. Even if you know nothing about the comic. If you need a brief introduction, here is an article from IO9: A Beginners’ Guide to Green Lantern
- Upcoming PJ Tri-blog: Movie Review of the Green Lantern (politicaljesus.com)