“It’s Not Easy Being ‘Green’”
Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard
Directed by Martin Campbell
For the third time in just six weeks, a new superhero movie is in theaters. But despite boasting a reported production and marketing budget of more than $300 million, “Green Lantern” trails far behind “Thor” and “X-Men: First Class” as the weakest of the three. Ryan Reynolds certainly gives it his all in the title role, but “Green Lantern” is no “Iron Man” – and, for that matter, it’s no “Green Hornet” either – as the film ultimately suffers at the hands of a convoluted screenplay, a weak villain and cheesy special effects.
For mainstream moviegoers not familiar with the various characters who called themselves Green Lantern over the decades, the lesser-known superhero from the DC Comics stable (where Superman and Batman reside) traces its origins back to 1940 with “All-American Comics.” But the Hal Jordan version featured here (first introduced in 1959) is probably the best-known incarnation, thanks to his appearance on the animated “Super Friends” TV series from the 70s.
As played by Reynolds, Jordan is a gifted and arrogant test pilot with a penchant for being emotionally distant from those closest to him. That’s largely due to the burden of shouldering the legacy of his father, a test pilot who was killed during a freak accident. But the biggest test of his character comes in the form of a dying alien who wears a special ring that can harness incredible power.
When that ring is passed on to Jordan, he becomes the Green Lantern – or one of more than 3,600 Green Lanterns throughout the universe that serve as a sort of intergalactic police force. Jordan’s jurisdiction lies with the sector that includes the planet Earth, but before he can embrace his incredible responsibilities, he must first overcome the fears that have been holding him back.
Although its directed by Martin Campbell – a proven Hollywood filmmaker who made Zorro cool again with 1998’s “The Mask of Zorro” and who rebooted the James Bond series twice with 1995’s “Goldeneye” and 2006’s “Casino Royale” – “Green Lantern” falls short of its potential. For one thing, it’s overwhelmed with computer-generated special effects that look cheesy at times, and the mediocre 3-D version does little to enhance the experience.
In addition, the screenplay is filled with too much exposition, and the over-written story – while faithful to its source material – takes all the fun out of the movie. It’s also derivative of a host of other properties – like “Top Gun” and the “Star Wars” prequels – especially when it comes to the backstories involving Hal Jordan and the Guardians of the Universe that preside over the Green Lantern Corps.
Ryan Reynolds has proven to be a triple threat by being able to balance action, drama and comedy, but his performance here falls flat, while Blake Lively (TV’s “Gossip Girl”) barely registers as his love interest. Mark Strong fares somewhat better as Sinestro, a fellow Green Lantern who becomes seduced by the power of the yellow side, but even his presence feels more like setup for the sequel (if there is one).
Then there’s the villain, Hector Hammond, a meek scientist who acts as a pawn to an all-powerful energy force called Parallax that threatens the universe. But as played by Peter Sarsgaard, Hammond is more creepy than scary, and the computer-generated Parallax looks too much like a big smokey blob to possess the defining characteristics of a truly great villain.
Perhaps “Green Lantern” would have fared better if it just focused on Hal Jordan and the earthbound development of his powers and saved the more far-out parts with the Green Lantern Corps for the sequel. As it is, it’s hard to see how anyone other than diehard fans of the comics will see the light on this one.
Verdict: SKIP IT!