Do you remember when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) was being released and everyone was eagerly anticipating a new Star Wars film, only to have a pretty lame movie released? That’s what happened with Green Lantern (2011); the hype was better than the movie.
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a cocky test pilot is “chosen” by a power ring which is given to him by a dying alien. This ring is powered by willpower and is the weapon and symbol of The Green Lantern Corps. Hal is transported to the planet Oa for training in this intergalactic peace-keeping force. Hal reluctantly accepts this calling, feeling that he is in over his head. Meanwhile, the now dead alien who gave Hal the power ring is being dissected by Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) under government direction. The alien was killed by an immense super-powerful being called Parallax. Some of Parallax’s genetic residue resides in the dead alien and infects Hammond, granting him telekinesis and telepathy. Hal returns to earth and combats Hammond who is beginning to go insane. Through this confrontation, Hal learns that Parallax is headed to earth to gain enough power by feeding off of the fears of humans to attack Oa and destroy The Green Lantern Corps. Hal must learn to control his fears and feelings of inadequacy so he can conquer Parallax’s invasion and save the universe.
I get the impression that the Green Lantern setting is very expansive and complex, and somewhat unique. There are hundreds of alien races, significant characters, worlds, and powers to keep track of and there just wasn’t enough time in the two hour movie to develop everything sufficiently; not even the important plot devices. Because of this the movie really felt rushed; “Here’s Hal Jordan, here’s The Green Lantern Corps, here’s some token characters you’d expect to see in a movie, here’s some powers we aren’t going to bother explaining, here’s a villain with no obvious motives. Stop asking questions, just watch the movie.” With other superhero movies, you don’t have to explain a whole lot. With Superman, all you have to establish is that he is from another world and has powers that a human wouldn’t have. Then it’s just a matter of developing his character to show that he is inherently good and illustrating that, even Superman can’t be everywhere. But since only a little bit of the Green Lantern universe actually takes place on earth (a setting we’re familiar with) more setting development has to occur, and there just wasn’t enough time to get it all done.
Ryan Reynolds is good-looking and funny, yet still seems to get typecast; in action movies or comedies he still plays an arrogant, cocky, and sarcastic douche bag. Of course, Hal Jordan having that sort of a personality and then having responsibilities placed on him that have universal significance it kind of interesting. But even Hal isn’t developed enough; when he’s on the brink death, I still don’t care if he lives or not. Reynolds did okay; he just had weak material to work with.
Blake Lively plays Carol Ferris, Hal’s flame. Carol acts so differently from scene to scene that I was a good way through the movie before realizing there were not two women of similar appearance and dissimilar personalities having a relationship with Hal. And it did not help matters that her appearance conforms so much to standards of beauty that there isn’t much about Blake that makes her character stand out.
The visuals were really pretty good, but the translucent objects conjured by the Green Lantern rings looked awkward and strange. It just flat out looks unrealistic and hard to take seriously. Power ring effects aside, most everything looked alright.
Green Lantern was pretty disappointing. It was not what the hype made it out to be. It’s an over budgeted, under written, and unfocused movie with lots of CGI and very little soul. Even hardcore Green Lantern fans were disappointed. I wouldn’t recommend taking the time to see Green Lantern. I doubt even the extra nine minutes of footage in the Extended Cut could save this movie.