Movie Review: Green Lantern
Stars: 3 out of 5
The film 'Green Lantern' is based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Directed by Martin Campbell and starring Ryan Reynolds as the title hero, the film tells the tale of the character's origin story, while integrating some of the more fantastical elements from the comic book series. It's an entertaining film that ultimately fails to deliver anything new to the super hero genre.
The plot of the film centers on the Green Lantern Corps, a group of alien beings that are tasked with protecting the galaxy. When Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) is attacked by the force known as Parallax, he crash-lands on Earth to give his ring to Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Now designated as the Green Lantern of Earth, Jordan has to learn how to use his powers while Parallax takes control of Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard). Trained by Sinestro (Mark Strong), Kilowag (Michael Clark Duncan) and Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush), Hal Jordan soon finds himself ready to test his willpower against Parallax.
For starters, the pieces of a very good film are here. Ryan Reynolds is fine as Hal Jordan, showing just the right amount of cockiness and introspection. The special effects, especially on the planet Oa, are fantastic, providing visuals that are sure to excite fans of the comic book. However, this is an origin story, and the film hits many of the same notes that better movies, like 'Batman Begins' and the original 'Spider-Man,' have hit before. It has your standard superhero tropes, such as the dead parent, the training montage and an unstoppable force that only one man can stop. In addition, the filmmakers seem to be set on turning 'Green Lantern' into a trilogy, focusing on setting up future storylines with Sinestro and Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) instead of creating a solid, stand-alone film. Granted, the character of Green Lantern isn't as well known as Superman and Batman, so a bit of backstory and setup is to be expected. But, the restrictions of the origin story and the need to set the film up as the first in a series do the movie more harm than good.
Part of the problem may lie with director Martin Campbell, best known for his work in 'The Mask of Zorro' and 'Casino Royale.' Both films were exciting pieces of pulp action. With 'Green Lantern,' Campbell seems almost overwhelmed by the source material, trying too hard to shove 50 years of comic book lore into one film. His vision seems to be looking to the future of the series where all the fun stuff is, while this film is left with a paint-by-numbers feel.
The choice of villains leaves something to be desired. It seems the filmmakers wanted to save the strongest villains from the 'Green Lantern' universe for a later film. While there are hints of what's to come with Sinestro and Carol Ferris, the film's main bad guy, the entity known as Parallax, leaves a lot to be desired. While the threat and danger is discussed, rarely does the audience see why Parallax is considered such a threat. Instead, those who are unaware of the comic book history are left with a giant cloud that seems no more threatening than your standard thunderhead.
Ultimately, this film is trying too hard to start something when it should've hit the ground running. The 'Green Lantern' story is a great premise and an even better character that is let down by the trappings of the superhero genre. While this is an entertaining film, its focus on too much setup and little payoff may leave audiences cold. 'Green Lantern' is far too set on its sequel, which, unfortunately, may never get made.