You’ve no doubt already noticed that we’re in the grip of a comic book-inspired movie onslaught. We’ve just sat through Thor and have Captain America coming up and The Avengers in 2012. That’s over at Marvel Studios, where they’re mining their lesser known comic book stable for films while laughing all the way to the bank. Over at Warner Bros, though, they’ve only just started trying to make anything that isn’t Batman.
Green Lantern stars Ryan Reynolds as fast talking, arrogant but charming test pilot Hal Jordan, who shirks responsibility at every turn. When a purple alien space cop crash lands on Earth, Hal is recruited into the intergalactic peacekeeping police force called the Green Lantern Corps. Each Lantern gets a ring that can turn their thoughts into reality, although this is barely made clear in the movie’s 5-minute-long training sequence Hal goes through to master his abilities.
There’s a lot that isn’t clear in this movie, actually. Hal is trained by the alien warriors Kilowog (voiced completely unnecessarily by Michael Clarke Duncan), fish-like Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush in a more inspired bit of voice casting) and the great & powerful Sinestro (Mark Strong, doing his level best to carry this picture). After they show our hero the ropes, though, all of them just kind of disappear from the movie. Same goes for Jordan’s earthbound extended family, who are introduced early on, but never appear again. Not even when ‘Uncle Hal’ is flying around their hometown as a superhero, or when that very same city is attacked by a giant evil cloud. It’s a pity, because Reynolds does his best to charm the audience into liking Hal. There’s just not a lot for him to do after that.
Between the minimal action, there are a lot of hollow speeches about destiny and overcoming fear. They’re all delivered with surprising aplomb by Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, but the movie never really establishes the relevance of these themes to the plot. They’re only there because that’s the sort of thing the Green Lantern comic books have recently been about.
The villains, by the way, are a mix of mutated biologist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard being creepy) and a giant CG cloud, voiced by the legendary Clancy Brown. Not awful, but whereas the movie spends all its time building up Hammond, the supposedly epic Parallax never feels like the threat the dialog makes it out to be. A scene where the alien Lanterns go off to fight it is cut short without any explanation of how the heroes that made it out alive escaped what seemed like a losing battle.
The question then becomes, where is the movie that director Martin Campbell shot? All the elements are there, but the important exposition and action seems to get briefer and briefer as the movies progresses, leaving instead several long scenes of Lively and Reynolds moping and almost none of Green Lantern saving anybody or fighting anything. In this era of hyper-successful superhero and sci-fi movies, why was Warner afraid to commit to the 3-hour opus that they no doubt shot? Why replace it with this vague mess of out-of-left-field plot devices and pretty CGI instead?
Seems ironic that they made a movie about a hero who has to overcome great fear when they couldn’t muster the courage to release it in its entirety.
The One-Liner: Ryan Reynolds plays a space cop who doesn’t go into space much or serve & protect anyone in a movie Warner Bros seems to have cut up from something entertaining into something messy.
The Best: The thing people were most worried about before the movie came out was the Green Lantern suit. Don’t worry. The studio sank its budget into the CGI and so the suit looks fantastic. It is probably the coolest thing about the whole movie.
The Worst: Every plot point that comes out of nowhere, but I think by the third time you’ve watched the romantic leads sit down to talk it out and not reach a conclusion, it stops being romantic and starts to feel like stalling.
Rating: Half Mast
P.S. There’s an after-credits scene that, like everything else in this movie, comes out of nowhere and tries to set up a sequel. Poor Mark Strong.