“Green Lantern” grabs $3.3M in midnights

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: All eyes are on “Green Lantern” this weekend as Warner Bros. tries to roll out a new superhero franchise for a D.C. Comics character that lacks brand recognition.

It might be an uphill battle. For starters, Summer 2011 already has superhero fatigue, what with Paramount’s “Thor” and FOX’s “X-Men: First Class” opening in early May and early June.

In addition, Martin Campbell’s “Lantern,” which casts Ryan Reynolds as test pilot Hal Jordan who becomes an intergalactic hero when he receives a powerful ring from a dying alien, is staring down some ridiculously harsh reviews. The summer tentpole film has a 21% Fresh grade on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics using words like “deadly disappointment,” “derivative,” “clunky” and “unremarkable.”

Those negative reviews, in my opinion, are off the mark. While Campbell’s film is handcuffed by the formula assigned to every single superhero origin story to date, “Green Lantern” (**1/2 out of 4 stars) constructs some elaborately fantastic universes for the intergalactic portion of its story, where Jordan journeys to Oa to unlock the full potential of his stylish, green duds.

In some ways, “Lantern” is a companion piece to Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor,” as both adventures figured how to balance celestial action with human drama. Campbell’s film isn’t nearly as successful in sustaining the earthbound romance that’s a prerequisite in these four-quadrant blockbusters. But that’s largely because love interest Blake Lively’s too small of a performer for these rooms. Everywhere else, though, Campbell litters his roster with grade-A character actors (Peter Sarsgaard, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins) who juice their caricatures, then get out of the way of the next expensive effect.

I find it amusing that you can’t spell “original” without the word “origin,” because every superhero origin story from this point forward will suffer from not being original. But the spare-no-expense “Lantern” lays the groundwork for a universe I’d happily revisit in subsequent sequels, particularly if Campbell was at the wheel of what could be a fantastic franchise.

We won’t get a chance, though, if audiences don’t show up this weekend and beyond. Deadline reports that “Lantern” grabbed $3.35 million in midnight screenings, which the studio called an “excellent result setting up for a strong Father’s Day weekend.” I honestly hope so, because I’d rather see more “Lantern” films than most of the superhero franchises that already are guaranteed sequels … and soon.

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One Comment

  • June 17, 2011 | Permalink |

    Was very happy to contribute my $13 to last night’s midnight box office. Of all the reviews I’ve read, you & Ebert get it right: it’s a comic book movie that stays true to the original story. Too many whiny critics (100 or so) are essentially just saying, ‘yuck, another comic book movie I can’t get out of going to see, why can’t I just go to see yet another version of Wuthering Heights, I’m comfortable with that.’

    Green Lantern takes Ryan Reynolds to some strange places & challenges in an abrupt manner, just like in the comics. Life’s like that too, sometimes – guess most don’t care for going out of their comfort zone, or for films that dare to.

    Now those penguins, they make me feel nice and safe …

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