Saturday, June 25, 2011

Green Lantern - Movie Review


Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Saarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett and Jay O. Sanders. Directed by Martin Campbell.

This is another one of those movies where I can say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it is by no means good. In fact it's quite silly.

We start off with the mythology. The universe has been divided into 3600 sectors. Each sector gets its own Green Lantern, a space cop, a being that can wear a green ring that manifests into reality anything the ring-bearer can imagine. They use these rings to fight evil and keep the intergalactic peace. Green is the power of Will.

But then a being uses the color yellow, the power of Fear, to fight against the universe. He escapes from his prison, frying three Green Lanterns in the process. He grows with each kill, until he's this tentacled space cloud, making his way through the galaxies toward Oa, the central planet of the universe, headquarters of the Green Lanterns.

Turns out the Green Lanterns answers to the Ancients, nine immortal Mr. Magoos sitting in a Jedi-council circle atop 100-foot-tall high-chairs. They just sit there and crankily dispense "wisdom" when the Lanterns need their help. The leader of the Lanterns is Sinestro (Mark Strong), whom I've only known as a bad guy, but he's a good guy here. Okay, well, if Spider-Man can do movie after movie without turning Dr. Connors into the Lizard, I guess Sinestro can be a good guy here.

Anyway, the Lantern in Earth's sector gets mortally wounded by the evil space cloud (named Parallax) and crash-lands off the US coast. The way a new Lantern is chosen is up to the ring, so the ring sends out a green ball of energy to find the next in line, and it's supposed to be someone without fear. Also for the first time in history, it's a human, so who will the ring pick?

A cocky pilot named Hal Jordan, played by Ryan Reynolds, who's always seemed like a slight upgrade from Jason Lee to me. Hal is one of those mavericky maverick pilots that other people like to be stern with. Shoehorned in there, in the most awkward groan-worthy way, we learn Hal has daddy issues, as his dad was a pilot who died in a plane crash. Seriously. Screenplay malpractice here.

Sooo the ring picks Hal, and before he knows it, it's flying him to Oa, where he meets the other Lanterns and goes through some training. But it's like really hard and stuff, so he quits and goes back to Earth. I do believe I am giving that section of the movie justice.

And you know, that's really the part of the movie where I started to check out. Granted, the daddy-issues scenes were painful, but at least they were brief. Now that we're getting deeper into what the Lanterns can really do, we find out that they don't have that much imagination. There's never a creation, from Hal or any other Lantern, where I thought that was clever.

In supporting roles, Peter Saarsgaard has a lot of fun as Dr. Hector Hammond, who gets morphed into a bloated servant of Parallax after he gets infested by a little piece of it. I wish Hammond had been the main villain instead of the sub-villain to the space cloud. Pay attention, future comic book movies. When your choice for Main Villain is between a good actor and a giant CGI smoky octopus, go with the good actor.

Blake Lively's the blandest female interest since Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane. Tim Robbins get in a little smarm as a senator, but he and especially Angela Bassett don't have much to do. Seriously, after seeing Bassett in this and Rene Russo as a glorified extra in Thor, I feel like I should take up a fund. "Please donate to the 'Actresses Over 50 Deserve Bigger Parts' fund. Not all of them have to go to Meryl Streep."

Is it open for a sequel? Of course. I'm sure there's an outline somewhere that has Sinestro betray the Lanterns after getting seduced by the color yellow. I'm more curious if DC's going to try to go the Justice League route the same way Marvel has the Avengers coming. I can't really see Christian Bale's Batman, Henry Cavill's Superman and Ryan Reynolds's Green Lantern hooking up. For one thing, Hal's personality is closer to the Flash than the incarnations of GL I'm familiar with.

It's not Catwoman-level bad. I would just hope if you're going to spend this much money on a movie, you'd try to have a little more imagination.

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