Green Lantern is DC comics’ sole offering this summer. While they have Batman and Superman movies on the horizon, Green Lantern stands alone in a holiday season packed with Marvel superhero movies. It’s also the hardest sell.
Cocky fighter jet test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is chosen by a dying alien and his ring to be the newest Green Lantern for his sector. The members of the Green Lantern corps are intergalactic peace keepers who are fighting a civilisation-consuming monster called Parallax. Can Hal conquer his own fear to defeat this evil, and can he convince the Corps and himself that a human is up to joining such an elite force?
Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) has the misfortune of his film coming out shortly after the very well received Thor and X Men: First Class. It’s not a total disaster, but it’s comfortably the weakest comic book movie to come out this year.
The enormous budget is all on-screen, with good CGI and the Lantern’s home planet of Oa looking spectacular enough. And it’s available in 3D for viewers who are that way inclined. But there is the slight problem that the alien creatures of the Green Lantern universe are, to put it bluntly, kinda funny lookin’. Fans of the comic will likely be impressed, but any viewer that can’t get past the fish-headed or pink-faced aliens is going to have a hard time taking the film seriously. It’s not helped by a cliché-ridden script. There’s an overlong, deadly serious opening narration that is just one of several missteps, including a subsequent information dump about half way through and a Daddy-issues flashback that is reminiscent of Hot Shots in all the wrong ways. It takes itself so seriously that it becomes unintentionally comedic.
The cast is sound enough, with Reynolds managing to find some levity in amongst the responsibility lessons. Apparently this Hal Jordan is not especially like his comic book counterpart, but the actors humour is vital here. Blake Lively (The Town) is given next to nothing to do as his conscience/love interest Carol Ferris, but they do share some chemistry. Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) glowers as glowering Lantern Sinestro, while Tim Robbins wafts through the film as a vaguely evil Senator. Having the most fun is Peter Sarsgaard (An Education), who comfortably steals the film as reclusive scientist Hector Hammond, whose head expands along with his villainy after being infected by Parallax.
The filmmakers obviously committed fully to bringing the weird and colourful world of the Green Lantern comics to life as faithfully as possible. It’s also squarely aimed at a younger audience. But for all the expensive eye candy, more time should have been spent on the script.
It’s riddled with clichés and takes itself too seriously. But there are some decent action set pieces, and Sarsgaard’s villainous howling will keep you entertained.