Title: Green Lantern
Who Are These Guys Again? The universe is divided into 3600 sectors, each of which is policed by a member of the Green Lantern Corps, whose members harness the..."green power of will" with the help of a special ring. They're stationed on the planet Oa, home of the Guardians of the...
Okay, That's Enough. And that's just what they cram in before the opening titles.
Rating Using Random Items Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a-half Kilowogs out of five.
Tagline: "In brightest day, in blackest night..."
Better Tagline: No, I'm not coming up with another smart-ass comment that rhymes with 'night.' Grow up.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Cocky fighter pilot is bequeathed a ring of power unrelated to the J.R.R. Tolkien universe. Computer generated intergalactic heroics ensue.
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a great pilot (so great that he stalls out and destroys his state-of-the-art fighter jet in order to take out to a couple prototype robot planes). He also is apparently fearless enough to attract the attention of Abin Sur, a member of the GL Corps who crashed on Earth after suffering a mortal attack by the evil Parallax, a fear-fueled entity that reminded me of nothing so much as Sinistar from the old video game. I kept waiting for him to bellow, "I hunger, coward!" every time he/it was on screen.
After obtaining the ring, Jordan wrestles with his new responsibility, his daddy issues, fellow pilot/former lover Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and resentful head Green Lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong). Oh, and Parallax is still around.
"Sinestro?" He's Bad, Right? I Mean, His Name's "Sinestro." And he has an evil moustache, but no. Sinestro is not one of this movie's villains.
"Critical" Analysis: As we start dredging up some of the lesser known characters in the Marvel and DC pantheons, we run into a new twist on an old problem: the origin story. Every initial entry in a superhero franchise has to tell it (or retell it, as we're about to find out in the upcoming Spider-Man and Superman reboots), and every time it takes up roughly half of the movie's running time. It's often unnecessary (even my grandmother could tell you why Bruce Wayne became Batman), but with characters like Thor and Green Lantern, you pretty much have to explain why this big blond guy runs around with a hammer, or why Hal Jordan is afraid of bananas.
Thor did a better job with this, by mostly ignoring backstory except for movie's first ten minutes adn working it in as the movie went along. Then again, the Odinson's background was comparatively simple (Dad strips the arrogant Thor of his powers and sends him to Earth to learn humility). Director Martin Campbell and his bevy of writers had the opposite problem: cramming the Green Lantern Corps history and Jordan's initiation into their ranks into less than an hour's running time in order to allow the new GL a chance to show his stuff.
And it's all terribly rushed. Jordan zips from receiving the ring from Abin Sur to the early manifestations of its powers to perfunctory boot camp on the planet Oa...it's feels like we're speed dating all these characters. Some of whom (Peter Sarsgaard's Dr. Hammond, Tim Robbins as Sen. Hammond) serve almost no narrative purpose.
So how do you counter this? With ridonkulous amounts of CGI. We're well past the awkward web-slinging days of the first Spider-Man movie, and the green screening is so prevalent I generously estimated 25% of the film was actually shot with real human beings and/or sets. The end result is worse than mere apathy at yet another alien world crammed with George Lucas-style crapola: I no longer believe a man can fly.
DC has to step up its game. Christopher Nolan's Bat-films aside, Marvel is kicking their ass all over the place. They're unlikely to change the status quo with yet another Superman do-over or any of the capes remaining in their quiver (Martian Manhunter, anyone?). Maybe a good place to start would be shaking things up a bit. There was a black Green Lantern, for example. Or give Carol the ring. I mean, Jordan's military career was probably helped by his dad's reputation. Carol had to rise through the ranks on her own, and it takes a lot of courage for a woman in the military, courage being the one thing the GL Corps supposedly values above all else (and we all know Lively can fill out a costume).
All that said, I didn't hate the movie. Reynolds is still likable enough, and the fight scenes - all 2.5 of them - are enjoyable, but at a reported $200 million budget and over 70 years of comic history to draw on, Green Lantern has to be considered - at best - a disappointment.
Green Lantern is in theaters today. See it with the Man in the Yellow Hat.
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