Directed by: Martin Campbell (Edge of Darkness)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Temuera Morrison
With Green Lantern, Warner Bros. might just have brought us our most purely superfluous comic-book movie to date. In a summer already being defined by a glut of superhero flicks, here we get a crash course in exactly how not to make one of these films. Don’t get me wrong, at no point does Green Lantern dredge the depths of Catwoman (2004), but there’s absolutely no reason this movie should be so damned boring. In the worst of times, even the lousiest of comic-book properties should be entertaining. What a sad world we live in when someone can make a $200 million movie about guys flying around space fighting aliens that’s still drowsiness inducing.
For just a moment, I had a flash of hope that Green Lantern might turn out to be a hokey Flash Gordon-styled space opera—full of exotic, nonsensical worlds and aliens—thanks to a melodramatic opening voice-over describing all the alien mumbo-jumbo establishing the film’s premise. The set-up is workable for that kind of story, as cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is given a mysterious ring by a dying, purple alien (Temuera Morrison, Couples Retreat) which grants him superpowers and entrance into the Green Lantern Corps (they’re basically interstellar cops). At the same time, an evil force named Parallax—a giant, tentacled, physical embodiment of fear—is running around space, destroying worlds, sounding like Orson Welles in the animated Transformers (1986) movie and basically being all-around evil.
So, does Hal run out in space with his fancy new power ring and and rip Parallax a new singularity? Nope. Instead, we get stuck in origin-story hell. Hal has to sit around and suffer through a crisis of conscience—and confidence—over whether or not he can really be a Green Lantern. Being a superhero, he’s also got some daddy issues he’s got to work out first. Actually, everyone in this movie seems to have daddy issues, most notably our other bad guy, Hector (a nerdy, skeazy Peter Sarsgaard, who also happens to be the best thing in the movie), who just can’t seem to please his dad, Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins, looking a lot like Bill Clinton). When Hector gets infected by some Parallax leftovers that also give him superpowers—not to mention an oversized noggin and a goiter—he’s obviously got to go cause trouble, too. All of this dovetails into the various and predictable outcomes you’d expect, with some stops along the way for vaguely philosophical musings about the wages of fear and such, which are a little difficult to take seriously coming from a guy in a CGI unitard.
Green Lantern does get some things right here and there, namely in the ways it attempts to subvert superhero conventions, like in the way Hal’s Lone Ranger-like mask doesn’t make for much of a disguise. But even this sort of post-modern take on superheroes has been done to death already. For a film that’s so ensconced in its own sci-fi mythology, there’s a definite lack of anything new—and worse, anything fun—coming along with it. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.