Details: (M), 114 mins, In Cinemas 11 August 2011, United States, English
Synopsis: A test pilot (Ryan Reynolds) is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.
Dim DC comic adaptation fails to fly.
Green Lantern is not so much disappointing as simply not there. Despite the obvious expense, this screen adaptation of the veteran DC Comics superhero plays like a test-run, a rehearsal waiting to be fleshed out with a sense of individuality, a generous performance or an emotionally engaging scene. Instead it makes what should be fun, if nothing else, into hard work. The best you could call it is dutiful, which is worrying when you consider that the familiar story hopes that we’ll believe that its hero, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), has the courage and character to go above and beyond what everyone, including himself, thinks he’s capable of. The film should have made the same demand of itself.
Opening with an exposition dump that gives us many soon forgotten facts about the Green Lantern Corps, whose 3600 members patrol the universe with the aid of their all-powerful rings and good green energy, as well as the unexpected escape of their greatest enemy, Parallax, the movie then cuts to Jordan, who we first sight when he wakes up in bed beside a beautiful blonde, does a double take at the clock – 7.52am – and then scrambles to get to work as a test pilot on time.
It’s a fearfully hackneyed beginning. No-one, it appears, has been able to put a distinctive stamp on Green Lantern. Veteran director Martin Campbell, who relaunched James Bond twice with Goldeneye and Casino Royale, handles the knot-free three acts in a workmanlike manner, and there’s barely anything to report from the lensing of noted Australian cinematographer Dion Beebe, who changed audience perspectives in his previous collaborations with Michael Mann.
For better or worse, comic book adaptation need someone to strike a defining tone, whether it’s the vintage square jawed determination that director Joe Johnston gave to the recent, pleasing Captain America, or the smartest guy in the room insouciance of Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Instead you’re stuck with the well worn trope of the hero who doesn’t believe he’s up to the role, which in this case comes with some terribly blunt father issues established in clichéd flashbacks to Hal’s father (Jon Tenney), also a test pilot, being killed in the line of duty.
Parallax, a destroyer of worlds, is a tentacled CGI cloud that’s both boring, and too powerful, for Hal, who doesn’t exactly impress his new comrades when he finds himself on Oa, home to the Green Lantern corps. Instead he has to make do with Peter Sarsgaard, playing the loon as nebbish scientist Hector Hammond, who is called in to examine the body of Hal’s noble predecessor, and finds himself infected with a speck of Parallax’s bad yellow energy and associated megalomania. Tim Robbins plays Hector’s father, a duplicitous senator, and not even Angela Bassett at her fiercest, as a government scientist rocking six-inch spike heels, can spice proceedings up.
Ryan Reynolds has significant comic energy, and he’s at his best here when he’s left alone to toy with his new green skin or given the opportunity to irreverently answer back, but he can’t establish moral worth or genuine inspiration, while his relationship with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), his fellow pilot and now corporate heir, barely registers. Lively has a husky voice, while Reynolds is all upper register bite, and they literally don’t even sound right together. It might be different if they had something more to work with, but Green Lantern’s predictability is either disappointing (the wan dialogue) or laughable (Carol’s increasingly unlikely office outfits).
Anything Hal can picture, his ring can make reality, but the story barely exerts itself to surprise us with his gambits. It speaks to a lack of imagination, both in the character and the movie itself. Green Lantern has the staidness of a film assembled by a bureaucratic committee.
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