You could say a lot of things about DC’s latest comic movie Green Lantern, but never say that it lacked ambition.
Green Lantern is an ambitious film, an attempt to bring to the big screen the sweeping space saga established by years of Green Lantern comics. It’s got everything you could ever want in a GL movie.
And that’s exactly what’s wrong with it.
The movie is crammed to the gills with plot points, history and Green Lantern's mythology, each of them whizzing past your head so fast just to make room for more. The movie tries it's best to make us care for a character like Green Lantern, a not so easy task given just how vast his continuity is recently. At least they give us the basics: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a cocky test pilot, who's reckless and fearless antics grate the nerves of his friend and former flame Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). But all that will soon change when Hal is chosen to become a member of the intergalactic peace corps known as the Green Lanterns!
An average movie’s running time wasn’t designed to contain all of this information in one sitting, but director Martin Campbell seemed to take that as a challenge. At one point, Hal ponders on the responsibilities of having a power ring in one scene, only to cut to Green Lantern bursting into a lab where supervillain Hector Hammond (played with batshit craziness by Peter Sarsgaard) is raising hell, with no lead in whatsoever!
The result is an unfocused story that tried to do too many things at once, losing sight of what’s important and what’s not. Hal’s training scene in Oa was awfully short, but the romantic bar scene between him and Carol Ferris dragged on for so long. The Hector Hammond character was ultimately pointless. Big bad Parallax could have benefited from some focus, building him up into a credible threat instead of leaving his supposed threat level at the mercy of hearsay and exposition. One wonders why they chose to cram all that inside a criminally-short 105-minute running time.
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan /Green Lantern is likeable enough, with just enough charisma and abs to get the girls swooning and enough superhero swaggering to leave comic fans like me satisfied. Blake Lively is an improvement from all the dull female leads we’ve had so far. The few Green Lantern members who were shown, let alone named (like Mark Strong’s Sinestro), do their parts well. Everyone else is forgettable, to no fault of their own.
The only bright light in Hal’s lantern is the action. This movie’s got more superheroing than most of even Marvel’s offerings thus far. Green Lantern’s powers lent to some pretty creative action scenes, made more fun by the serviceable CGI. The climactic final battle is pretty epic, establishing just how big and powerful a hero Green Lantern is. Too bad the film couldn’t live up to his example.
The thing is, Green Lantern didn’t have to be this mediocre. Green Lantern is practically bursting with fantastic imagery and concepts, and it deserved a better movie than this. The superhero/Green Lantern fan might find something to like here, the rest will will have to look elsewhere for a movie that makes sense.