My Picks for the Most Overrated and Underrated Movies of 2011
Most Underrated: Green Lantern
Green Lantern clocked in at 23rd place for the year with $116 million at the box office -- not exactly a success considering its production budget of $200 million. As much as critics want to whine that they are unable to influence a film's box office, what other explanation can there be for Green Lantern's poor performance? The day the film was to open I pulled up Rotten Tomatoes and my heart sank: only 27% of critics gave it a positive review. A lousy film experience was all but guaranteed -- we decided to just wait until Blu-Ray.
The word on Green Lantern was out early: this was not going to be a "meaningful" superhero film ala Iron Man, Dark Knight, Watchmen or the best X-Men movies. No, Green Lantern by critics' consensus was a colorful, special effects extravaganza but failed to reach the heights of what was expected from the dramatic superhero fare of today. It was more akin to the disastrous Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider and Daredevil superhero mediocrities of the last decade. It was just a brainless summer blockbuster.
And it is. The dialogue and characters are only a few degrees less wooden than George Lucas' most embarrassing sequences from the prequel trilogy. There's no political allegory or deep sentiment. It's just a straightforward, earnest superhero narrative seemingly filled with more digital effects than live actors. Green Lantern seems more influenced by X-Box and Playstation than Shakespeare and Sophocles. And that's fine.
Life in a substance vacuum might not work well with most comic properties but it seems to with Green Lantern. Here's a guess why: Green Lantern has never been one of the "A-list" heroes because his premise does not allow him to be. We were never going to get a Green Lantern film with the depth of Dark Knight or Watchmen. Hal Jordan is not Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Tony Stark, or Bruce Wayne. He's not a tortured soul isolated by power or scarred by tragedy. The Green Lantern Corps is just an intergalactic police force. He's Earth's beat cop, an empty shell with a fun toy. Reading a Green Lantern comic or seeing the character in the cartoon or now played by Ryan Reynolds the feeling inspired is the same: "Oh how I wish I had a magical green power ring and could do cool things like that!" That's all that's really there with Green Lantern. So that the film delivers it well with fun special effects and exciting, video game-style action scenes should be a cause for praise, not derision that we're not experiencing an Oscar-worthy performance.
While no one expects Green Lantern to come up on January 24 when Jennifer Lawrence reveals the Academy Award nominations for 2012, unfortunately my choice for most overrated movie of the year is already generating some best screenplay buzz (further evidence of the critical establishment's loyalty to the politically correct orthodoxy?) ...