REVIEW: Having one’s own opinion sometimes means going against the majority. Most critics and many friends loved The Social Network, while I found it to be well made and acted, but soulless and hollow. Most people I know adored Secretariat and felt it was wholesome and inspiring; I thought it was cliched and boring. We all bring our tastes and preferences to the theater, but even so, with Green Lantern earning anembarrassingly low 26% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m a little shocked to admit that I liked it. Ryan Reynolds brings a lot of charm and emotional versatility to the title role. His romantic chemistry with costar Blake Lively is solid, if not earthshaking. Director Martin Cambell, who has previously shown great skill at crafting stunningly-choreographed real-world action in Casino Royale and The Mask of Zorro, proves that he can do good work with the CGI effects often found in superhero stories.
The messages about willpower and overcoming fear are inspiring, though this film has none of the subtext or complexity of films like The Dark Knight and X:Men-First Class. The movie also has fun with the superpower provided by the Green Lantern ring: anything one can imagine, one can do, so ultimately battles come down to outsmarting one’s enemy. These strengths overcome the film’s multiple flaws (disobeying the rules of its own mythology, some flat dialogue, many one-dimensional characters, a bevy of origin-story cliches). Though it’s not as solid as genre-classics like Superman (1978), Spiderman 2, The Incredibles, X-Men 2, Iron Man, or Chris Nolan’s Batman films, Green Lantern is superior to many superhero films (FantasticFour, Daredevil, The Hulk) and is in the same league, in my opinion, as Thor, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk (the Edward Norton version), and Superman Returns. If you’re generally into this type of movie, it’s worth your time.
CONTENT ADVISORY: Green Lantern has plenty of action violence and two truly menacing villains who kill and inflict terror. Though not bloody, some moments are too intense for young children. There are a handful of mild and moderate profanities, but they aren’t a prevalent issue in the film. A man jokingly flips off his friend. The hero wakes up next to a woman (she’s covered), he’s seen in his underwear, and it is implied that a man and a woman had a past sexual relationship (though the dialogue never becomes crass or graphic).
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Perfect love casts out all fear. “Courage is not the absence of fear; true courage is manifest in bravely doing what has to be done in spite of fears or foes…True courage is in doing the right thing in spite of the odds or the opposition or the apprehension” – Marion Hanks.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.