Movie Review - Green Lantern

My first encounter with Green Lantern was in an episode of the Superman series, which aired in 1999. The Green Lantern was a man who was given a ring from an alien. That ring gave him the power to generate green energy fields that could be formed in whatever shape or size his mind imagined. The energy fields also granted telepathetic abilities and allowed him to fly, to swim without needing oxygen or even travel through space without breathing. The energy fields sustain and make him a hero not only on Earth but throughout the galaxy.

The Green Lantern is merely one of many, thousands, if not millions, of other life-forms from other planets who have similar rings and selfsame powers. All of them are part of a collective group of heroes, a type of extraterrestrial police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. Together, they fight evil forces throughout the universe. Comparatively, they're like Jedis from the Star Wars prequels, except they have infinite more power.

A race of super beings called the Guardians keep the Green Lanterns in check. It was the Guardians who made the rings in the first place and who developed and built the machines that fuel them. The machines that fuel the Green Lanterns are tiny gadgets that look like actual green lanterns. They're the batteries.

Despite the great power, a Green Lantern is capable of dying and when he or she does, his or her ring is transferred to another. Throughout the DC Comics series on which this movie is based, the ring is transferred to several humans. The first human to become a Green Lantern is a test pilot named Hal Jordan.

Here, Ryan Reynolds plays that pilot. Reynolds is like a younger, more handsome, more muscular, if not shorter and less cynical, Vince Vaughn. He's cocky and frat boy-like, and Reynolds brings all that to Hal Jordan who's a good guy but who clearly has daddy issues. Those issues aren't fully utilized in this script though.

Greg Berlanti produced this movie. He wrote the screenplay along with a handful of others whose names also appeared with Berlanti on the short-lived ABC series No Ordinary Family, which was also a comic book-inspired, superhero TV show. It's evident that a lot of that TV show's style is on display here. Most critics didn't appreciate that style in this movie. Most critics hated it in fact.

Directed by Martin Campbell who notably rebooted the James Bond film series, this movie is a downshift from that but not totally out of the same realm. If I had to say anything bad about this movie, it's that it's too quick. It breezes by. It's at times cheesy and feels like a TV movie. Considering the character, this movie is not as epic as it could have been. It tries, but still feels grounded, and, yes, it feels incredibly restrained.

By contrast, the recently straight-to-DVD release of the animated film, Green Lantern: First Flight was epic. In that animated film, two planets crashed into one another. This movie has one sequence in outer space, but the action is pretty lame. All of the other action scenes are given pretty short shrift. Green Lantern isn't really let loose to show the full force of his power.

That being said, of the superhero movies or movies about people with super powers released this year like Limitless, Hanna, Thor, or X-Men: First Class, all of which got vastly higher scores on Rotten Tomatoes, Green Lantern was vastly more entertaining to me. It got the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of them all, but was the more fun of the others.

Unlike X-Men: First Class, it doesn't try to juggle too many heroes. The special effects aren't as bad, and it doesn't have a glaring character contradiction. Unlike Thor, it's not a He-Man rip off that gives both the love interest and the villain nothing to do, and, unlike Limitless and Hanna, the leads aren't rendered nearly unlikeable.

Peter Sarsgaard plays the scientist with even more daddy issues than Hal Jordan. He was an excellent villain who really didn't have anything new, material-wise, with which to work, but he had more potential than any other villain this year. A scene in the credits reveals who the next bad guy will be. I look forward to seeing it.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.


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