Green Lantern: actually doesn’t suck

The money I paid to see Green Lantern would have been well-spent just for the character of Carol Ferris, who is probably the best female character I’ve seen in a superhero movie in quite a while.

The rest of the movie is, contrary to what I’d been led to expect, not terrible. Yes, the central idea is goofy (glowing space cops who use the green energy of willpower!), and yes, the “good guys” make one monumentally stupid decision partway through the movie, and there are smaller details in the story and script I would have tweaked. But Hal Jordan, the main character, is not nearly the “dur, I’m a man-child who can’t take anything seriously” disaster the first trailer seemed determined to advertise him as, and the central theme is better than some I’ve seen lately.

And Carol Ferris. She is smart, and competent, and not terribly interested in Hal’s bullshit (though she’s interested in him sans bullshit), and she does actual useful things. Not the best actress in the world, and there’s one thirty-second scene where I would have rewritten all of her dialogue, but it was the only sour note; the rest of what they did with her, I liked a great deal. Spoiler cut:

It started with the argument after the plane crashed, when Carol said she didn’t have to choose between being a pilot and a businesswoman. The earlier argument between them had danced close to the line of “strident perfectionist woman chides man-child for his stupidity,” but this was Carol standing up for her own life, rather than being obsessed with Hal’s. Then two things at the party: first, her interpreting Hal’s compliment as being about the plane rather than her dress, and second — the moment where I really started liking her — when she called for emergency aid even before the helicopter crashed. Actual clear thinking in a crisis, holy shit. Instead of standing there and screaming.

Then, oh my god. The balcony scene. “I’ve known you since I was a kid! Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you because I can’t see your cheekbones?” I had already leaned over to kniedzw and made my usual sarcastic comment about a tiny fig-leaf of a mask “hiding” somebody’s identity, so I burst into delighted cackles when she saw right through it.

And finally, the confrontation with Hector. I kind of wish the “why don’t we swap and let her choose?” idea had gone through, though I see why it didn’t; at least the line nodded toward her agency, rather than leaving her as bait in the air. Once she was on the ground, she actually got to do something useful, with the missiles and then retrieving the ring. She was not left to play Damsel In Distress all through the final confrontation. Thank god.

What would I have changed? The dialogue on the roof right after that, when she inexplicably fell into “but you’re going to die!!!” right after being the one to tell him he needs to be couragous. (Maybe it was her cunning plan to amp up that whole “overcoming fear” thing?) It was cheesy and out of place. But there was enough success with her character that I can get past it.

So yeah. It is not the best superhero movie I’ve seen in the last five years, but it was entertaining, and far better than some of the dreck they’ve been putting out lately.

0 Responses to “Green Lantern: actually doesn’t suck”

  1. Marie Brennan

    Sorry, your comment got screened ’cause there’s been stupid amounts of anonymous spam lately.

    Anyway, the movie isn’t brilliant, but it’s far from the stupidest superhero movie I’ve ever seen. I haven’t read reviews (except this one), so I don’t know what people are sticking on to say it’s so remarkably terrible.

    • querldox

      In my case, it’s thinking that it’s a paint-by-numbers stringing together of cliches (including some that just seemed dropped in for no reason other than to have that cliche in the movie). I didn’t like the movie’s Hal character or what passed for his heroic journey. It may not be terrible per se as opposed to just very run of the mill, but it just could’ve been so much better.

      Interesting points about Carol, most of which I hadn’t picked up on. Possibly because Lively’s acting didn’t have me at all convinced that she was either a hotshot test pilot nor a business whiz.

      There’s been at least one secondhand report that the end result was much less either a director’s or writer’s cut, but rather the result of a lot of heavyhanded studio notes. I can believe it.

      • Marie Brennan

        Oh, it definitely could have been better. But I enjoyed it, which is more than I can really say for (e.g.) Wolverine.

        I could certainly believe the movie suffered from too many cooks, most of whom don’t know the craft of storytelling at all.

        What I liked about the central concept was the whole “uh, maybe it’s better not to be fearless (since, among other things, that could mean you’re too stupid to be afraid), but rather to be courageous and overcome fear.” I don’t think the structure of the narrative supported that at all well, though.

  2. metagnat

    I, too, burst into delighted cackles when she saw right through his mask! I wanted to be like: “FINALLY, a hero movie that acknowledges secret identities don’t mean beans when you’re trying to keep a secret from the people closest to you.”

    I liked the government scientist woman, too and that they managed to show that she was a person who had a very tough life and knew about the need to make compromises to get to success in the short time the movie spent with her.

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