Green Lantern Directed by: Martin Campbell Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: June 17, 2011
PLOT: A hotshot pilot (Reynolds) has his life turned upside down when he is chosen to join an intergalactic peace-keeping organization with the aid of a powerful green ring.
WHO'S IT FOR? Comic book fans will have a pleasant time with this one, but also, for fans of 3D done right, Green Lantern uses the technology surprisingly well.
EXPECTATIONS: As a Green Lantern comic fan, I was anxious and nervous at the same time about this comic book adaptation. Reynolds had a lot to live up to in the role, but more than anything else, I was worried that the special effects would take priority over the substance.
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan: At first, Reynolds was a troubling choice for Hal Jordan. He has the cockiness that Hal exudes, but he doesn't quite have the charisma necessary to sell the part. Still, Reynolds does the best that he can with a rather schizophrenic script that calls for Hal to be simultaneously fearless and afraid. In the end, Reynolds "gets" that comic book Hal Jordan in some key moments, but it feels like the writers couldn't agree on the core values that make up the character. Score: 5
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris: Remember that strung out looking, stripper Blake Lively from The Town? Yeah, this is the antithesis of that character. DC has a penchant for strong women and Ferris is no exception. There are a couple obnoxious elements of the character, such as her attire which can best be described as "business slutty," but in the end, her strength and determination make her a surprisingly interesting character. It certainly doesn't hurt that Green Lantern isn't afraid of giving her something to do. There's a great scene where we see Carol take initiative and get her hands dirty to save Hal in his moment of need. While these moments are few, they're certainly worthwhile. Score: 7
Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond: Sarsgaard can act. We've seen it before in movies like An Education or Kinsey. This is not one of those movies. It never pretends to be, but still, is it too much to expect some villainy from one of the film's many villains? Sarsgaard is cartoonishly pathetic as the scientist Hammond, but when he becomes "villainous", his daddy issues and unrequited love for Carol take center stage. This could have been an excellent opportunity to flesh out the character, but instead, we're treated to Elephant Man's dazzling looks mixed with Frank Booth's campy insanity. He's so all over the place that it's hard to feel anything for the character, except a little sad that he's middle-aged and still crying that life's not fair. Score: 3
TALKING: Green Lantern must have been written by, like, four different people (nope, five). There are times when the film is overly dramatic and other times where the character's dialogue is as flat as the pages of the comic book from which it came. The most offensive instances are the few flashbacks that the film chooses to employ, such as Hal's flashback to the loss of his father. This would have been a great opportunity to allow the character and even the actor emote, but instead, it is reduced to fractured glimpses of the most cliche scene you could imagine. Still, there are other times where the film has fun with its characters, such as Hal's mock Batman voice. All in all, it's a mixed bag that offers a few tricks here and there, but a few treats as well. Score: 5
SIGHTS: First things first, as a strong opponent of the 3D film movement, I was impressed with Green Lantern's use of it is alarmingly subtle. There are no elaborate scenes with things flying out of the screen at you, but rather, it uses it to create dimension to the world of the movie. Still, the visuals are far from perfect. The fact that Campbell felt the need to provide a greenish tint to every scene? Not a big fan. Furthermore, the CGI, considering the budget this film had, could have stood some improvement, but all in all, it doesn't ruin the movie, but it doesn't add much either. Score: 5
SOUNDS: There's not much in the way of music in Green Lantern. Sure, you have your typical indie/alternative to show that Hal's what the kids are calling "cool" these days, but the movie gives up on that pretty quickly. Then you've got your sweeping orchestral superhero music. It's no John Williams, but it serves the purpose. Otherwise, the sound design of Green Lantern is surprisingly forgettable. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: Oddly enough, the best scene of the movie for me wasn't one of intense action. When Hal first visits Carol and she recognizes him even behind the mask is just the type of sincere tomfoolery that Green Lantern could use more of him from its leads.
ENDING: The ending feels a little rushed, but when the movies tries to cram two main villains into an origin story, that's no real surprise. Still, it tidies up what little loose ends Green Lantern had left at that point.
QUESTIONS: Why does Hal Jordan think of the most cartoonish solutions to his problems? I mean, seriously, springs? A race track?
REWATCHABILITY: Sure. I'm not eager to rewatch it, but if it came on while I was flipping through channels, I'm sure I'd stop for a second viewing, but it's not an absolute necessity.
Green Lantern has plenty of things working for it. An interesting hero, an engaging love interest, but the most important thing it's got on its side? Well, I'll be the first to admit, it was my low expectations. While Green Lantern isn't breaking any boundaries, it's a fun time at the movies and a solid contribution to the DC Universe. Even the cast, which I was initially apprehensive about, managed to pull it together long enough to make a movie that was entertaining, even if it was safe.
In fact, the main issues that I take with Green Lantern have almost nothing to do with my initial fears going into the movie. Sure, the effects weren't revolutionary, but they weren't painful to the point of distraction. Instead, the issue lies mainly with the behind the scenes team. Aside from the obvious application of green to every scene, director Martin Campbell never seems to be entirely sure of what he expects from his hero. Is his power fearlessness? Or is his power to admit to overcome fear, by admitting to being afraid? Long after the movie's close, I'm still not entirely sure. Still, what is perhaps most frustrating is that there are clear moments when Campbell knows who Hal Jordan is, and is able to channel that comic book character so well, only to blow it all on a lame joke. Matters aren't helped by the villains of the film, two of which are crammed uncomfortably into the movie's hour and 45 minute running time with the promise of a third in the film's end credits.
In the end, Green Lantern seems to suffer from being too ambitious, a complaint I never thought I would lodge against the director or Ryan Reynolds. Instead, it should be content to provide us with one hero, one love interest, and one villain. When it tries to do more, it ends up neglecting characters that I wished we had more time with, but ultimately fell off the radar. While it suffers in its writing and direction, Green Lantern shouldn't be written off entirely. While it was far from a masterpiece, Green Lantern provides just the right amount of distraction, entertainment, and fun that I would expect from a summer blockbuster.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10