Review: Green Lantern
PLOT: When a hot shot test pilot is granted a green ring that gives him super powers, he must choose whether or not to accept its calling. His choice is made clear when he is forced to conjure up the strength to fight two enemies, one looking for power, the other searching to destroy everything in its path. All this, and he has a little bit of time for romance with the lovely Blake Lively it must be tough to be Ryan Reynolds.
With the summer of super heroes in full swing, DC Comics GREEN LANTERN finally arrives this Friday at a theatre near you. With its occasionally spectacular CG effects and Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordon - a test pilot who has been granted a mystical ring - it mightve been a thrilling summer adventure. In this Martin Campbell (GOLDENEYE, CASINO ROYALE) directed feature, there are certainly a few thrills, yet it is bogged down by a script that features forced sentiment, goofy dialogue and a less than thrilling cast of characters to root for. There's a tongue-in-cheek vibe that works occasionally as Lantern seems to have more in common with superhero flicks like FLASH GORDON or the original SUPERMAN and this is slightly refreshing; if only it had a better balance of humor and adventure.
The story begins as a deadly super villain named Parallax (Clancy Brown) is accidentally released after being imprisoned by the Guardians of the Universe. The Guardians must send all their best men in the Green Lantern Corps to destroy this monster before he can cause too much damage. When one of the members of this elite group of alien supermen is sent crashing down to earth after a vicious attack from Parallax, he must grant his ring to whomever the ring chooses. Its choice happens to be Hal Jordan. For fans of the comic, it is clear that the story deviates from the original source material, yet the idea still works and most will be able to overcome the differences.
Once Hal Jordan realizes the power hes been given, the film introduces another enemy in the form of scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard). Hammonds father is the very powerful, Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins), and you can bet that the family bond between the two is beyond warped. Hector is a brilliant man who makes contact with a yellow substance that runs through Parallax ultimately giving him superpowers. His transformation into villain turns Hector into a doppelganger for Eric Stoltz' "Rocky" Dennis in the 1985 feature MASK (only not so lovable). However, the extremely talented Sarsgaard makes it work.
While this may seem overly complicated for those not familiar with the comic books, the screenwriters did an adequate job to simplify the story. Nevertheless it may even be too basic, as it relies on a few moments of forced sentimentality, including a useless nephew character that shows up early on to inspire Jordan, but the inspirational child is never even mentioned again. Even the relationship between Jordan and love interest Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) feels forced and uninteresting. As likable as the characters are, they are never really given much life aside from what the cast manages to put into it. Thankfully, Lively, Sarsgaard and Mark Strong as Sinestro are good enough to enliven these two dimensional characters into something of interest.
As far as a leading man is concerned, Ryan Reynolds is quite capable as Hal Jordan. He has the self-assured, witty persona that is easy to root for. His take on Jordan is, for the most part, a solid performance. There are times however that it is difficult to get past the fact that it is Ryan Reynolds. When things get really scary Parallax is a pretty creepy heap of flesh that expands in size the more power he gathers there is something missing from Reynolds that lessened the excitement factor. He is almost too charismatic and self-assured to really express the fear that this nemesis thrives on. Whether this was Reynolds performance or just the balancing of CG to live actor, it hampers the intergalactic joy of it all.
GREEN LANTERN is not the end all be all of superhero films, however it will bode well for audiences tired of the brooding caped crusader, those who are looking for a little more camp with their comic flick. While the story can be interesting, the script itself is uneven and all over the place without ever stirring up the thrill factor. The effects are generally very good, however there are moments that fail to impress, especially when Parallax expands into one giant mess of a monster the beast is creepy, especially when you get a sense of the evil inside. As far as the actors go, Lively, Sarsgaard and Strong give solid performances. Reynolds is good throughout most of his evil-bashing duties, yet sometimes he could let a little bit of vulnerability shine through his CG suit. Maybe the sequel will be able to conjure up a little bit more dazzle with its emerald rays of light.
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