- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ollywood hasn’t been kind to the superheroes of the DC Universe. Unlike its competitors over at Marvel, the only real success that the comic book publisher has had recently with bringing its characters to the big screen is with Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Warner Bros. was hoping to change all that with “Green Lantern,” but unfortunately, the movie is all set-up with very little payoff. Despite a strong mythology at its core, director Martin Campbell has somehow managed to make the origin story the least interesting part of the film. And when that comprises a big chunk of your movie, it results in a pretty joyless experience.
The film opens with a brief history of the Green Lantern Corps, the intergalactic police force that protects the universe. Each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him the ability to create anything he can see in his mind using the green power of will, and only those who are completely devoid of fear are chosen. One of the most powerful Green Lanterns is Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), but after he’s fatally wounded in an encounter with an evil alien called Parallax, he heads for the nearest planet so that the ring may find a successor. And for the first time ever, it selects a human: cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), who isn’t ready for the level of responsibility that's been thrust upon him.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government recovers the body of Abin Sur and brings in scientist Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) to conduct the autopsy. But after he comes in contact with a piece of Parallax, Hammond is overtaken by the yellow power of fear that fuels the alien, granting him telekinetic abilities. Hell-bent on exacting revenge on those that wronged him, Hammond begins to wreak havoc on Earth. And with Parallax on the verge of attacking the Green Lanterns' home world of Oa, Hal must accept his destiny as the hero he's been chosen to become to save both worlds from certain destruction.
That’s a lot of information to digest, which is part of the problem with “Green Lantern.” The world is so complex that it requires a ton of exposition. So much, in fact, that despite a lengthy prologue that takes care of a majority of the important backstory, the characters still spend most of the film explaining things. That wouldn’t be such a big problem if it were interesting, but the script is completely lacking in any emotion or excitement. The actors just read their lines and move on to the next scene, with some characters (like Mark Strong’s Sinestro) relegated to playing a disappointingly small part in the story. For a movie that builds up the Green Lantern Corps as this badass group of space cops, we see very little of them in action. Obviously, the film is meant as a vehicle for Hal Jordan's Green Lantern, but it still feels like a missed opportunity to let some of the other Lanterns shine, especially when fans all have favorites of their own.
The action in general is pretty sparse, which is a shame, because even with the somewhat ridiculous nature of the character (A ring capable of amazing power needs to be recharged? What happens if it runs out of juice in the middle of battle?), the potential is ripe for cool set pieces. Campbell does have some fun with the big fight between Hal and Parallax at the end, but it’s too little, too late. Of course, it doesn’t help that both villains are pretty silly. Parallax is essentially a big storm cloud, while Sarsgaard plays Hammond like he’s in a different movie altogether, hamming it up every chance he gets. The rest of the cast is hindered by the terrible script. Blake Lively is never given a chance to show what makes Carol Ferris such a strong female character, and although Reynolds was certainly an inspired choice to play Hal Jordan, there’s not enough on the page to let him sink his teeth into the role like Robert Downey Jr. did with Tony Stark.
And that’s a pretty suitable comparison, because while “Green Lantern” had all the right elements to make a great superhero movie, it fails to invoke the same enjoyment of watching something like “Iron Man” for the very first time. The irony is that a second movie would probably be a lot of fun now that all the dirty work is out of the way, but it doesn’t seem very likely, no matter what the post-credits teaser may suggest. That may not be what the executives at Warner Bros. want to hear, but it’s about time they learned that throwing a bunch of money at a screen doesn’t necessarily make a good movie.