“Green Lantern” (2011). Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Peter Sarsgaard, Jay O. Sanders, Mark Strong, Temuera Morrison, Taika Waititi, Clancy Brown (voice), Michael Clarke Duncan (voice), Geoffrey Rush (voice), Dorian Kingi. Director: Martin Campbell. Screenplay: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg. Story: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim. http://greenlanternmovie.warnerbros.com/
Rising to our potential is one of the most heroic acts we can pursue in life. It’s an audacious undertaking that forces us to face—and ultimately overcome—our fears, those irrational forces that can hold us back from becoming who we were meant to be. That theme is at the heart of this courageous endeavor, as well as the narrative of the new sci-fi action film, “Green Lantern.”
Based on the adventures of the comic strip character of the same name, “Green Lantern” tells the back story of how maverick test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) came to don the mantle of the legendary superhero, a tale that originates with an incident far off-world. When the evil entity Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown) is accidently liberated from a supposedly inescapable prison, it seeks revenge against those who exiled it. Standing in its way, however, is the Green Lantern Corps, a fellowship of supremely fearless protectors, known as Lanterns, who guard all reaches of the Universe, each drawing upon their vast reserves of personal fortitude and the wisdom of their omniscient rings of power to carry out their mission.
Parallax, who derives its strength by feeding on the fears of others, destroys the populations of several worlds in the pursuit of its goal, growing astoundingly powerful through all the “sustenance” it consumes and becoming a formidable force by the time it confronts one of the Corps’ greatest warriors, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison). Regrettably, Parallax proves too much for the Lantern, who is severely injured and forced to retreat. His journey eventually brings him to Earth, where, weakened and dying, he instructs his ring to go forth and choose a worthy successor.
Needless to say, Hal is shocked when he learns he’s the chosen one. The unruly, undisciplined rabble-rouser, who routinely professes his fearlessness but is also regularly challenged on his claim, is thrust into a role he never envisioned—nor wanted. He even speculates that his selection must have been a mistake. Nevertheless, the ring, being the infallible force that it is, unreservedly furthers Hal’s indoctrination into the Corps, eventually introducing him to his mentors, Tomar-Re (Dorian Kingi, voiced by Geoffrey Rush), an emissary who welcomes him into the fold, and Kiloweg (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan), a tough-as-nails drill instructor. He’s also introduced to one of the Corps’ most highly respected warriors, Sinestro (Mark Strong), who, like Hal, has doubts about the Earthman’s qualifications to serve as a Lantern.
Hal’s abilities soon get put to the test when Earth is attacked by Parallax, an assault that arises with the assistance of an unwitting accomplice, Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), one of Hal’s aerospace colleagues. And so the battle begins, with the fate of the planet—and the Corps itself—resting in the hands of a neophyte superhero who must decide whether he’s up to the challenge, a test that again comes down to just how fearless he truly is.
Overcoming fear and living heroically are central themes in “Green Lantern,” just as they are in most films of this genre (and in nearly all pictures that address conscious creation topics, for that matter). Both of these notions play important roles in helping us manifest our desires; in fact, our failure to embrace them can significantly hinder our progress, because it can lead to the imposition of self-created roadblocks that “artificially” inhibit our materialization capabilities. To that end, it’s particularly crucial we recognize that the outcomes we realize are rooted in our beliefs, the driving force in conscious creation. Ultimately, the more we buy into beliefs that vanquish fears and foster courage, the more success and satisfaction we’ll achieve with the manifestation process (and vice versa, of course).
The implications associated with this can be considerable. For instance, being able to face our fears and live heroically is integral to being able to exceed our perceived limitations, a critical component of our personal growth. We’ll never know all we can be unless we’re willing to forthrightly take these steps. Moreover, our willingness to embrace these notions can factor heavily in the realization of our value fulfillment, our ability to live our lives as our best, truest selves in service to ourselves and to others. If you doubt the veracity of that, just try to imagine a world without heroic souls; such a planet would quickly become easy prey for those seeking to feed on the fears of its cowering inhabitants, especially when those fears are drawn upon for strength and subsequently employed to perpetuate the cycle, a prospect the film repeatedly illustrates through Parallax’s dastardly exploits.
Tapping into our inner reserves of courage may seem like an overwhelming task, especially in the face of daunting odds, and learning how to accomplish this can be challenging. But when a lesson arises, the teacher nearly always follows soon afterward, and such is the case here as Hal seeks to refine his abilities to live fearlessly. His grueling training sessions with Kiloweg, for example, are exactly what he needs to tap his potential and galvanize his abilities in these areas. In doing so, Hal not only strives to bolster his physical aptitude, but he also looks to reinforce the empowering nature of his beliefs, the forces that spur his capabilities into being in the first place. This scenario is much like that depicted in the original “Star Wars” series, where a brash young Luke Skywalker learns from his master Yoda how to draw upon his personal strength to become—and celebrate—the inner hero he ultimately knows he can be. It’s a lesson we can all learn from to become heroes in our own daily lives, no matter how big or small the obstacles we seek to overcome.
I’m somewhat mystified why critics have been so utterly merciless in their reviews of this picture. Most have lambasted it from top to bottom, calling it a snoozy, convoluted, underwhelming thriller for teenage techno geeks. I disagree. While the picture does have its issues, such as occasional uneven pacing and unnecessary tangents in the narrative, it’s nowhere near the cinematic disaster that so many have labeled it. I was pleasantly surprised, for instance, that this is an action film that doesn’t rely on things constantly blowing up to tell its tale. Similarly, I was very pleased to see a picture in this genre that actually includes some substance in its story line, such as the metaphysical themes outlined above. Those who fail to see past the movie’s surface trappings are missing a lot here; it’s their loss if they’re unable—or unwilling—to do so.
“Green Lantern” is by no means epic filmmaking, nor are its messages groundbreakingly profound. However, it’s fun fare for the summer, with dashes of depth thrown in to make it more satisfying than most of the season’s other, more typical bubble gum offerings. It reminds us what being a hero is all about—and how we can each aspire to become one for ourselves.
Copyright © 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.