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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts

Cinema in Focus

Cinema in Focus: ‘Green Lantern’ Has Moments of Brightness

The film puts a unique focus on strength of will and depicts a character both human and hero

By Hal Conklin and Denny Wayman |

2 Stars — Entertaining

Using light to fight darkness is a common theme in both fiction and faith. What makes the light of the Green Lantern unique is that it is the manifestation of the will. Unusual within the comic world, this emphasis on the strength of will allows the tale to explore how emotions such as will and fear could be harnessed for good or for evil.

Based on the comic hero created by Bill Finger of DC Comics in 1940, the Green Lantern has gone through several forms. Melding them together, director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro and Casino Royale) creates a cinematic figure who is both human and hero.

Explaining quickly that the Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic police force created by the Guardians, we are taken to a lost sector of the universe where a figure of smoky yellow power is inadvertently set free from a Green Lantern imprisonment. This sets the stage for the ultimate showdown between the green light of the will and the yellow light of fear.

At the center of this tale is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Jordan is an inventive test pilot who is chosen by “the ring” to join the Corps because he is “fearless”. But Jordan is a human with personal issues that cause him to doubt the wisdom of the ring’s choice. It is this inward struggle that gives depth to this fantasy.

When Jordan is taken to the home planet of the Green Lanterns, he begins his training. The leader of the Corps is Sinestro (Mark Strong), who agrees with Jordan’s self assessment and doubts his suitability as well. After a difficult initial training, Jordan decides that he cannot accept the responsibility to protect his earth. But, as is often the case in real life, it is the love and encouragement of a woman that changes his mind. This woman is Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), a childhood friend and past girlfriend.

Although the archenemy is much larger and stronger than humans, the human who becomes infected with his evil is Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard). Hector is also a childhood friend whose jealousy of Jordan’s relationship with Carol plays into the battle.

We won’t spoil the story of the interplay of these characters or how their humanity is accentuated by their inevitable battle, but the struggle between good and evil is obvious. That is the genius of these comic tales. Filled with truths about human life, including the fact that fear feeds on fear to gain its power, the ultimate truth is that it takes courage to overcome our fears. This courage is an act of the will and thus demonstrates its superior power over fear. This is a helpful message in a day when anxiety is often ruling our human lives.

Discussion:

» The power of a courageous person who willingly puts himself or herself in danger in order to protect the powerless is obvious. But do you believe that the will alone is enough to fight true evil in real life? Why or why not?

» The representation of the “immortals” is hardly what one would think an immortal life would be like. How do you imagine an immortal would live?

» Do you believe there is any power greater than the “green power of the will”? What power do you believe that is? Why?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.




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