Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Green Lantern

MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-III) Roger Ebert (2 ½ stars) Fr Dennis (1 Star)

IMDb Listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert’s Review -

The Green Lantern (directed by Martin Campbell and screenplay co-written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg) is based on the Green Lantern comic book series.  The series appeared in its first incarnation in the 1940s as part of the All American Comics franchise.  All Americans Comics eventually merged with two other comic book companies to create DC Comics, which became the chief rival of Marvel Comics.  In the decades following, the Green Lantern series has been repeatedly reworked and reintroduced by DC Comics.  During this rather complex history many of the elements and characters appearing in the current movie were introduced and developed.  As in the case of many/most comic book based movies, the movie’s screen-writers themselves tweaked the characters and plot elements into their current form.

Thus in the movie, Hal Jordan (played in the movie by Ryan Reynolds) a hot-shot American test pilot working for Ferris Aerospace (the daughter of the founder, Carol Ferris (in the movie also a test pilot and played by Blake Lively being the movie's love interest) receives a green ring along with a green lantern from a dying alien named Abin Sur (played by Temeura Morrison).   After saying “the Green Lantern oath,” the green ring transports hall to an alien world in another part of the universe where he discovers that he has been selected to serve as part of the Green Lantern Corps whose purpose is to police the universe on behalf of a group of super-intelligent aliens called The Guardians of the Universe.  All this derives from the 1950s DC Comics relaunch of the Green Lantern series.  

The principle antagonist a monster named Parallax, who appears in subsequent versions of the story.   Parallax had been one of the Guardians of the Universe, but he had been seduced by the power of the emotion of Fear, breaking away from the Guardians who maintained the universe together by their Will.  Fear it turns out, has a corrosive effect on the Will, hence why Parallax (which paralizes and consumes other beings) became an enemy.  The Green Lantern's universe presupposes a kind of "emotional electromagnetic spectrum" in which among other color representations, the Will is represented by Green, and Fear is represented by Yellow.

Most adults will _rightly_ find all this talk of “The Will” disturbing as it evokes memories of the infamous pre-World War II, Nazi-era propaganda film The Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl, a film which arguably made World War II possible. 

And a teenager ought to quickly appreciate that “The Will” standing alone, without being tempered by other attitudes/emotions like compassion, justice, mercy and love becomes simply arrogance and a prescription for Nazi-like crimes.  Consider simply that someone may _wish_ that someone become his girl friend.  But if he proceeds to try to simply overpower her (by imposing _his_ Will on _her_) then his actions approach/become rape.

So there are real problems with this movie.

Movies like this are not a total loss as they often invite audiences to imagine realities larger than themselves.  However, the disturbingly bipolar (Fear vs Will) presentation of the world is indeed a scary one and one which most teenagers seeing this movie, upon reflection, ought to reject. 

Catholics and other Christians ought to understand that in our understanding of the universe, God created the universe and sustains it, _not_ through his Will but through his Love.   “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16), “My commandment to you is love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12), “In the end, these three remain: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13).

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