I haven’t read the Green Lantern comic books put out by DC Comics, so I have no idea of how true the movie is to the source material. Frankly, I don’t care if it is or isn’t because nothing can change the fact that “Green Lantern” is a very dull affair. There’s nothing here to distinguish this particular superhero from so many others like him. He’s just another guy who suddenly gets these amazing powers but is not sure that he is “the one” to save the day. I know a lot of friends who idolize this particular comic book character, but this movie makes him look frustratingly generic at best.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a test pilot who somehow becomes a Green Lantern after Abin Sur, mortally wounded, orders his ring to find a worthy successor. Of course, when the ring picks Hal and hurtles him a hundred miles away to where Abin is at, he’s convinced the ring made a mistake. But we all know by the end that he will live up to the Green Lantern standard and live to save the day. This is regardless of him being irresponsible and in taking too many chances as a hotshot pilot. Maverick from “Top Gun” seems to live on in one form or another after 25 years.
The trouble with “Green Lantern” came at the start when the prologue offered us some exposition about who these beings are. I really couldn’t understand or care about any of it, and it also didn’t help that one schmuck ahead of me was still playing around with his cell phone after the movie started. Another guy behind me asked him to turn it off, and it took him another two minutes to do so. Needless to say it was distracting and it took my attention away from what the narration was saying. Then again, I’m not sure I would still understand what was going on.
The other problem is that as a character, Hal Osborn/Green Lantern is not that interesting. Or at least, he’s not interesting as portrayed here. Hal, as I pointed out earlier is a Maverick/Tom Cruise clone from “Top Gun,” and we’ve seen this kind of character a hundred times before. As for Green Lantern, he has the power to make anything he thinks of become real. Now on one hand that’s cool, but it also makes his fights seem like they were over as soon as they started. The movie becomes a big special effects show, and like “Speed Racer” the action scenes lack friction to make them truly exciting.
Regardless of his abilities, Green Lantern pales in comparison to Batman and Superman among others. I don’t care if he can fly, travel through space or make one hell of a fist; he seems weak when you stand him up against Wolverine. There’s not much character depth here, and we can figure out his arc right from the start. Perhaps if I read the comic books I would feel differently about Green Lantern overall.
In terms of the other characters, there are a lot of blown opportunities here. Peter Sarsgaard plays Dr. Hector Hammond who’s an immensely eccentric scientist whose actions are governed by his crush on Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) and the fact that his father (Tim Robbins) is deeply disappointed with him. This could have made for a very compelling villain, but Hammond ends up becoming your typical one-dimensional villain, and he exits the movie way too soon.
In addition, you have Carol Ferris who’s the obligatory love interest who hates how reckless Hal gets, but of course she still has the hots for him. You have Thaal Sinestro whose one of the most lauded Green Lanterns, but he thinks that Hal is unworthy of this special status. Does he gain respect for Hal by the movie’s end? Does a bear shit in the woods?
The acting overall is good, and there’s not too much to complain about. Ryan Reynolds acquits himself well in the iconic role of Hal Osborn/Green Lantern and holds his own throughout. Whether or not he looks more comfortable in a romantic comedy didn’t matter after a bit.
I had to keep pinching myself to remember that Blake Lively, who’s very glamorous here, had also played a serious drug addict in Ben Affleck’s “The Town.” She looks completely different here, and she’s a better actress than I bothered to realize before.
As for Peter Sarsgaard and Mark Strong (“Robin Hood,” “Body Of Lies”), they do the best they can with seriously underwritten parts. The same goes for Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett who somehow ended up in this mess which wastes their talents. Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan fare a little better as they voice some of the more popular Green Lantern killers in the series.
It’s hard to believe that “Green Lantern” was directed by the same man who reinvigorated James Bond with “Casino Royale.” Martin Campbell has proven himself to be adept at helming action movies that are strong on character and never boring. With him behind the camera, I was convinced that “Green Lantern” would really work as a live action movie. The fact that it doesn’t makes it a surprising disappointment.
Aside from a kick ass James Newton Howard score and some great special effects, there’s very little to recommend about “Green Lantern.” Granted, every comic book movie can’t be like “The Dark Knight,” but they should take lessons from it all the same. There are so many movies out there based on comics from Marvel or DC, and filmmakers really need to work harder at differentiating superheroes from one another. Otherwise, it’s just gonna be the same old shit.
* ½ out of * * * *