daniel cohen catches the latest super-hero flick …
Plot: A race of beings known as the Guardians harnessed the green energy of will power millions of years ago. The power is given to hundreds of rings that choose different warriors throughout the universe in order to protect it. They are known as the Green Lantern Corp. When Parallax (an old enemy of the Guardians) returns and destroys the Green Lantern’s greatest warrior, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), his ring is given to the Corps’ first human, a reckless test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds).
The best word to describe Green Lantern is underwhelming. You can tell there’s great material lurking inside, but the movie just refuses to push itself, instead offering a run of the mill ho-hum lazily put together sci-di ‘epic’ that is anything but. The film is plagued with so many little problems, but it all begins with the director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Mask Of Zorro).
Campbell really dropped the ball here. The pacing and rhythm is just uncomfortable. It’s not campy, but it doesn’t take the material seriously like it should. When you break it down, this is a story about the protectors of the universe, but nothing about this feels important. And that’s Green Lantern’s biggest weakness. I barely cared. I can’t help but compare it to Thor, and how much better director Kenneth Branagh blended the worlds of Asgard and Earth together. Here, Campbell shifts back and forth between the Guardian planet Oa, and Earth. The two worlds don’t mix, and feel like separate movies, whereas in Thor, the transition was smooth and crisp. Maybe it’s because the space world of Oa started off on the wrong foot.
The movie begins in space, and it’s a horrific start. The visuals look goofy and just plain bad. The planet of Oa in general looks like someone puked on the screen after too many adult beverages. We see a lot of Abin Sur at the beginning, but Temuera Morrison’s performance is bad, just completely uninspired. We also get our first glimpse of Parallax, the main villain of the movie who’s really just a smoky blackish entity, but he looks silly and completely non-threatening. It was like staring at a Sega Genesis boss.
The only good thing about the opening was Geoffrey Rush’s voice over narration. Right from the get-go, I didn’t take Oa and the creation of the green will power rings seriously. Now it does get better as the film goes on, but only moderately.
The strength of the movie is Ryan Reynolds. He puts his heart and soul into this role. I couldn’t help but think what he would do with a better script. Reynolds is the reason why this movie is okay. He’s funny, kind of a dick, but a likable dick. His portrayal as Hal Jordan, the first human that is given this great power, kept my interest even if the story itself is bad. In fact, Jordan’s back story is quickly told in a flashback. This sequence is one of the worst scenes I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie. It’s supposed to be a serious moment, but the only emotion I was able to conjure up when watching it was laughter.
Reynolds also has good chemistry with Blake Lively’s character Carol Ferris. Their dialogue is bad, but the actors do a good job of conveying it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a superhero movie where I was happy to get a scene focusing on the romantic angle instead of the actual plot.
Reynolds easily gives the best performance; Mark Strong as the Green Lantern leader Sinestro and Geoffrey Rush’s voice acting of Tomar-Re are solid as well. I also love Michael Clarke Duncan’s voice as the gruff and tough Lantern instructor Kilowog — but he’s completely wasted! That’s another frustrating part about this movie. Whenever you think it’s going into a cool scene, it’s rushed and glossed over. When Kilowog is introducing himself as Hal’s drill instructor, the dialogue and tone is great, but then it just gets completely breezed over. We barely get to hear Duncan’s cool deep voice as it’s pushed aside for lame visuals.
The visuals for the most part are either mediocre or bad — especially when it comes to the villain Parallax. However, the one effect the films excels at are the Green Lantern constructs. The whole idea of the ring is whatever you think of, it becomes real, created by the green energy. Every time Hal makes a cool construct like a gun or car, it looks pretty slick. The actual Green Lantern suit is also pretty solid. Other than that, the visuals are really gimmicky, especially whenever there’s fighting in space. I can’t stress enough how horrendous the space scenes are visually.
What’s even worse then the visuals though is the acting of Peter Sarsgaard’s Hector Hammond, the scientist who gets infected by Parallax. He looks ridiculous and is just an awkward and uninteresting villain. At least the other actors are trying to do something with this movie, but Sarsgaard is just like, ‘Yup, in a dumb comic book movie.’ The way his character develops and how the editing compares it to Hal Jordan’s story is really distracting. It’s more sub-par directing from Campbell.
Green Lantern is really disappointing because you can the see elements to a great superhero movie. The script and directing really let it down. It’s got the typical hero story, but it’s just so lazily hashed together. Except for most of the acting, everything about this has a bland feel. The climax was especially weak. The score also sets a bad tone. It just feels JV. If it wasn’t for Ryan Reynolds, this movie could have gone a lot worse. It’s a disappointing ‘meh.’
Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)