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10 Years Later: Green Lantern

30 June 21 words: George White

It's remembered as being so bad that it's become meme material. But is there anything to enjoy about Green Lantern? We take a look 10 years on... 

Director: Martin Campbell
Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard 
Running time: 114 minutes 

Rarely has a film received such brutally savage feedback as the Ryan Reynolds-led Green Lantern. The movie currently sits on an eye-wateringly low Rotten Tomatoes score of 26%, it brought in just $219 million at the global box office (from a sky-high budget of $200 million), and it caused one critic to state that, “The more I think about it the more I dislike it.” Yet, 10 years since its notorious release, is the superhero flick really as bad as everyone remembers? Near enough. 

Following carefree test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) as he stumbles upon an alien ring that grants him special powers, Green Lantern painstakingly follows every mid-2000s comic book movie trope in existence. Nerdy, tech-savvy comedic relief? Check. Underused female lead whose sole purpose is to serve the story of the titular male character? Check. Tale of a seemingly hopeless livewire who miraculously steps up to save the day? Check. 

Drenched in a tsunami of CGI is a completely middle-of-the-road, paint-by-numbers narrative which fails to add anything new or fresh to its – even back in 2011 – over-saturated genre. The characters on display lack any real charm or originality, feeling like one-dimensional caricatures that say exactly what you’d expect them to say and do exactly what you’d expect them to do.

It might not be the absolute, unmitigated horror-show that it is made out to be, but it sure as hell ain’t great either

The CGI itself is almost laughably poor, too. Despite coming out relatively recently, and having a pretty sizeable pot of cash to play with, the visuals are shockingly shoddy. Each of the non-human heroes look like something from a Cbeebies show, with the costume and character designs following the comics so closely that they border on the ridiculous. Put simply, this film makes Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed look like a genuine work of art (although, to be fair, it is). 

That said, for all of its many flaws, there are - remarkably - some elements to enjoy here. Although in a much more PG-friendly role than Deadpool's Wade Wilson, Reynolds is often a joy to watch, bringing his trademark quick wit and snappy line delivery, albeit in limited amounts. This certainly isn’t the Canadian’s worst outing in the superhero world – see his turn in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – and his character is just about likeable enough to keep things interesting. 

And some of the comedy weirdly works, with Greg Berlanti and co’s script showing a surprising amount of self-awareness. Every now and then, the film does find itself drifting towards a cringe-worthy level of seriousness, but for the most part there are jokes and gags that keep things lighthearted and amusing

While this may not be quite as bad as people remember, though, it is still easily one of the weakest additions to the now-flourishing universe of comic book movies. There are some decent bouts of comedy and a solid performance from Reynolds, but there are also just too many flaws for this to really work. It might not be the absolute, unmitigated horror-show that it is made out to be, but it sure as hell ain’t great either. 

Did you know? Carol's line "I've seen you naked! You think I wouldn't recognise you because you covered your cheekbones?" was an ad-lib by Blake Lively.

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