STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively,
Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Mark Strong, Taika Waititi, Temuera Morrison,
Angela Bassett, Jay O. Sanders, Jon Tenney
2011, 115 Minutes, Directed by:
Lantern is a superhero film where nothing genuinely super occurs . . .
A longtime bridesmaid in the
comic book realm, Green Lantern finally takes command of his own cinematic
vehicle, but for all the shiny visual effects and unabashed goal to kick off a
franchise, the production has forgotten to include fundamental elements of
compelling drama and excitement. They have spent so much time on building a
fictional universe but they don’t have any fun with it.
It’s a lifeless, tremendously
disappointing motion picture, consistently making dreary choices with a
limitless universe of powerful heroes and complicated villains.
A test pilot, Hal Jordan (Ryan
Reynolds) is haunted by the death of his father, allowing fear to rule his life
despite his considerable skill flying jets.
When alien Abin Sur (Temuera
Morrison) crash lands on Earth after a tussle with the all-powerful
planet-gobbling entity Parallax, his power ring finds Hal, inducting him into
the Green Lantern Corps, a squad of intergalactic creatures tasked with
protecting the universe, working from the planet Oa, their home base. Hal, now
in possession of literal willpower to help dream up any defense, heads off to
learn the ways of the Corps, growing into a rash and unsteady Green Lantern.
However, Hal must develop
self-control when Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) finds himself infected by
the yellow power of the Parallax, bursting with a destructive mental ability,
soon turning his nefarious attention to object of desire Carol Ferris (Blake
Lively), Hal’s lifelong friend and fellow pilot.
There are several problems with
Green Lantern, but the primary offense here is the uninspired script,
which is credited to four writers.
The screenplay is faced with an
arduous task of condensing comic book history and character development into a
single 100-minute motion picture, but it’s not an impossible challenge. Instead
of judiciously arranging the bizarre particulars of Hal’s emerald rebirth, the
script merely vomits forth a series of disjointed events, hurling names and
places at the viewer, trusting sheer spectacle will help the logic stick.
Fans of the character will
undoubtedly have an advantage, but even the most die-hard, homemade-ring-wearing
supporters might find themselves wondering just what in the heck Green Lantern
has done to the majesty of Green Lantern.
"Green Lantern is a drag, but at it is a colorful one . . ."
Instead of developing Hal as a
complex man of doubt, the writers brand the character with cheap daddy issues,
tying his critical sense of fear to the day he witnessed his father, an ace
pilot (Jon Tenney), die in a fiery crash. It’s obvious and unconvincing, but
worse is a pseudo-romance between Hal and Carol, pounded into the picture to
tenderize the proceedings and to generate a personal reason for Hal to chase
Forget that Reynolds and Lively
lack chemistry or that the actress looks ridiculous trying to play a worldly
adult (she’s abysmal in the role, looking like kid dressing up in her mother’s
clothes). The pairing is just a lazy development in a film built in the most
obvious manner possible - there’s little here that digs into the intricacy of
the Green Lantern world, playing beautifully with the stimulating
extravaganza. The script is just a rigid series of expected set-ups and
knockdowns, hungry to connect the dots instead of cutting loose, fitting Hal for
some idiosyncrasy the picture is dying for.
Nothing really clicks here.
Hal’s a bland hero saddled with
a formulaic arc, with director Martin Campbell committing a major blunder by
limiting the velocity of Reynolds’s natural charisma. Hal doesn’t need to be an
impish jester, but Reynolds feels bound by the continuous visual effects and the
character’s shallow pool of anxiety. He’s lifeless, but at least he’s not
Sarsgaard, who’s miscast and uncomfortably squealy as Hammond, a villain who
ends up being rather superfluous to the plot, merely biding time before Parallax
clouds into town.
Supporting characters, such as
Senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) and Dr. Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett), are
pushed to the fringes, powerless to make much of an impact, while vocal
performances from Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clark Duncan, as Hal’s Lantern
trainers, are wasted on lousy dialogue. Better is Mark Strong as Sinestro, the
de facto leader of the Lanterns, who looks to be initiating a larger character
arc to be played out over several sequels, supplying knowing looks that hint at
future plans. I assume villainy of some sort. After all, his name is Sinestro.
Green Lantern is a drag,
but a colorful one. The oodles of money spent to construct the world is clearly
visible on screen, with Hal’s Green Lantern suit itself a glowing visual effect,
further restraining Reynolds from an unpredictable performance. The feature has
scale and interest in action, but it’s a soulless thrill ride, making a familiar
comic book commotion without a sparkling personality or daring script to keep it
A superhero film shouldn’t feel
like a bedtime story . . .
- Brian Orndorf