Ryan Reynolds in his pants. What? You want more of a review than that? Okay then...
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The rash of superhero movies in the last decade or so have worked hard to expand the audience beyond the genre's traditional demographic of pubescent boys. X-Men invoked civil and gay rights metaphors. Spider-Man gave equal focus to soapy romance. Christopher Nolan added a grimy noir-ish tone to his Batman reboot whilst Iron Man grafted on layers of witty screwball banter. The success of these diversified approaches can be measured at the box office and by the number of spin-offs and sequels they have spawned. Interestingly, the more straight-up, less self-aware and arguably more teenage boy friendly treatments such as Fantastic Four and Daredevil have fared less well both critically and commercially. Which brings us to Green Lantern, which may be the closest we’ve come yet to the straight forward comic book thrills of impossibly powered beings throwing down to save the world from impending doom.
Ryan Reynolds gets to don the skintight green togs as Hal Jordan, our space sector's Green Lantern - essentially an intergalactic policeman. He's not thrilled with being picked, he's also not alone - there are thousands of aliens, also in figure-hugging green, each deployed to defend part of the universe. Each Lantern's power ring gives them the power to manifest anything they can imagine and that construct is maintained by willpower.
What we get is your standard origin story, complete with a bad guy no one else can beat and an unwilling hero who has to overcome his inner demons before he can fight the external threat. Lets be clear, Green Lantern is not subtle or sophisticated, the plot holds absolutely no surprises, and while he looks pretty cool the bad guy is one-dimensional (he's the physical embodiment of fear - or something) and SPOILER ALERT he is dispatched without too much fuss.
So then, why did we enjoy it so much?
Primarily it's down to Ryan Reynolds who, as well as being seriously smoking, is charming and funny enough to navigate the film through scenes both silly and po-faced. Granted, he's playing the same wise-cracking doofus he always plays, but we like that doofus and his well-practiced irreverent one-liners help keep the audience (well us anyway) firmly onside.
Secondly, the action sequences are fantastic. They're kinetic, clearly choreographed and most importantly, exciting.
Thirdly, the supporting cast bring it. Angela Basset and Tim Robbins stand out in particular despite their limited screen time. The usually handsome Peter Sarsgaard is saddled with an enormous ugly head, as alien-infected mad scientist Hector Hammond, but also excels in an under-written part. Even Blake Lively has her moments, despite having to do the love-interest in distress thing a couple of times.
Finally, Green Lantern is pure, unselfconscious fun. Sure it aims lower than X-Men and Batman, it’s not going to change anyone’s life, maybe not even their weekend - unless you’re 13. But if your inner 13-year-old loved superheroes take them along, leave your cynicism at the popcorn counter and prepare to enjoy spacemen hitting each other with big green objects.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, as you can see in the trailer below you do also get Ryan Reynolds in his pants.