Mark Reviews Movies

Green Lantern


1 ˝ (out of 4)

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Jay O. Sanders, Temuera Morrison, the voices of Geoffrey Rush, Clancy Brown, Michael Clarke Duncan

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action)

Running Time: 1:45

Release Date: 6/17/11

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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 16, 2011

The entire concept of the superhero behind Green Lantern strikes me as patently ridiculous in how rudimentary it is.  Here is an ordinary man to whom an alien bequeaths a ring of power that forms a skin-tight suit around the possessor's body and allows him to create anything that his mind envisions by means of literal willpower. Oh, he can fly, too, because what good is a superhero who can't become airborne some way or another?

As he has the power of imagination, it is only fittingly ironic that the movie about this Green Lantern guy has so little of it. There's a sensation of secondhand inspiration about the whole affair, from the origin plot with a side of throwaway villain and potential Earthly destruction to the score, which sounds as though the orchestra has the opening notes of the theme music of a certain man with the quality steel stuck in its collective throat before diving into Lantern's tunes. Perhaps it's simply a case of comic-book overload talking (Even the characters in the movie seem wholly impassive to the existence of a man with super powers, until a giant smoke cloud with a gigantic head starts killing them that is), but the movie does very, very little to make the case that there's anything remotely unique or even vaguely interesting about its hero du jour.

He is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), later Green Lantern, an ace fighter pilot. Hal's a womanizer (We know because he wakes up in bed with a random woman), irresponsible (We know because he wakes up late in that bed with the random woman), and reckless (We know because after waking up late with the random woman in his bed, he almost wrecks his car and blames the other drivers for his own distraction). To further prove his better qualities, he beats a rigged, simulated dogfight using real jets, with himself and Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), an old flame and co-worker, against two computer-operated fighters, by using her as bait and purposely destroying the astronomically expensive planes.

After visiting with his disappointed family (who, under less-than-mysterious circumstances called "screenwriters dropping the ball," are never seen again—not the last time it happens, either), Hal is engulfed in a green force-field and whisked away to the site of a downed spacecraft containing the dying Abin Sur (a purple, digital representation of Temuera Morrison). The alien gives Hal a green-glowing lantern and the green ring, which he says has chosen Hal to take up his role.

Some more back story is necessary but kind of pointless, as it hardly makes sense even when spelled out in a series of long-winded dialogues that quickly start to sound like the nonsensical babbling they are. See, there's a galactic peace-keeping corps called the Green Lantern Corp, led by Sinestro (Mark Strong). Their job is to go around the universe, fighting for peace, order, justice, and the like while dressed in impossibly constricted green suits (The most amazing thing about these folks is that they don't suffocate wearing them). Hal is the first human to earn such a prestigious rank, says his fish-faced mentor of a few scenes Tomar-Re (voice of Geoffrey Rush), and it's at a time of most desperate circumstances. The villainous Parallax (voice of Clancy Brown) has escaped his (awfully ineffective) prison and is destroying whole worlds and taking the essences of their inhabitants and building up his own power and the like.

Then there's also Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard, under a lot of makeup and, for better or worse, trying to do something with a performance that's at once understated, hammy, and perverted), who's even more of a disposable villain than the giant head with smoky snakes for tentacles that is Parallax. While performing an autopsy on Hal's extraterrestrial predecessor, Hammond is shocked by a remnant of Parallax, which overtakes him with the power of fear. Hal and the Lanterns are powered by will. Hammond is the thinker; Hal is the doer. Are there any more obvious points of contrast necessary?

The action sequences revolve around Hal's ability to conjure up whatever he can think of through the use of the ring. While his more experienced comrades try to hold down Parallax with green chains, Hal turns a crashing helicopter into a car, sending it twisting and turning around a summoned track. To save a falling woman, he creates a puddle of water, and plain, old nets would probably serve better in either case.

Hal's transformation, then, is from boorish to just being a bore. Green Lantern tries to hide its underdeveloped story, characters, and mythology by wildly flailing its arms, screaming, "Look!  Look!" Yes, that's a mighty fancy green pair of jets, but how about giving us something about which to care?

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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