Time for a movie review I reckon. I went along to neighbouring Wellington Central’s movie fundraiser at the Embassy yesterday where they were showing The Green Lantern.
After what seems like attending an entire festival’s worth of worthy, ethical fund-raiser films about causes the novelty of being able to watch a DC Comics blockbuster with no obvious links to the the Green Party aside from a shared chromatic preference was, to say the least, refreshing.
So, is the Lantern ‘Green’ (as opposed to green)?
Lantern’s hero, Hal Jordan is tasked with the rather ill-defined mission of guarding his segment of the universe and ensuring no evil escapes his sight. We are not told what constitutes evil (other than destroying entire civilisations). So, Lantern does not have the political gravitas of a movie such as Avatar. But, on the other hand, it doesn’t get itself caught in the midst of immediately indefensible moral positions such as happens in the Lord of the Rings. Certainly, if you are willing to regard ‘fighting for’ good as a euphemism for ‘campaigning for’ good or ‘working for’ good, then it is safe to say that Lantern’s overarching moral while not specifically Green, is also not anti-Green.
The lead female character, Carol Ferris, has three big scenes – one to show she is feisty, one to be rescued by our hero and one as a clever sidekick for Jordan. But mostly she is just there to be beautiful in the moments when stuff is not exploding. So, Lantern is not really feminist or empowering.
Wellington Central candidate James Shaw paid tribute before the film began to the local talent that had contributed to making Lantern. It definitely had more locals involved, both in front of, and behind the camera than your average Hollywood spectacle. But to describe watching it a ‘buying local’ would be akin to describing eating locally grown lettuce from MacDonald’s burgers as ‘buying locally made’.
Jordan’s epiphany during the film is that you do not prove your courage by having no fear, but by recognising your fear and overcoming it. That’s probably a universal truth rather than one peculiar to Greens.
Jordan and the other green lanterns draw their super powers from green rings that channel will. Meanwhile the baddies draw their power by channelling fear. It didn’t sit comfortably with me that exerting one’s will over others is an expression of good, while fear is always defined as evil.That is a little bit too Zarathustra for my liking.
It’s fun to cheer for a superhero in the darkness of a big theatre, just as it’s fun to cheer for a sports team on the side of a grassy paddock. There is no overwhelming need to stop and assess how the vanquished baddies, or the defeated opposition team feels. But just as I like my sports teams to show sportsmanship and magnanimosity, I also like my escapist films not to be ethically inconsistent with my own political views. Green Lantern sat on the thin line somewhere in the middle. But it kept me distracted from these worries with an awful lot of explosions.