For every summer that brings us a "Thor" or an "X-Men: First Class," there's a fairly standard superhero movie like "Green Lantern" in the mix. This isn't a bad superhero movie like "Ghost Rider" or the two "Fantastic Four" pictures. But "The Dark Knight," "Spider-Man 2," and "Iron Man" it is not. "Green Lantern" is bright, colorful, loud, mindless entertainment. You might be amused while watching the film. Just don't expect it to leave a lasting impression.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a gifted, yet conceited, test pilot for the United States Air Force. Hal is haunted by the death of his test pilot father, depicted in a flashback sequence so laughably clichéd that it evokes memories of "Team America: World Police." A purple alien named Abin Sur crash lands on earth and, as he perishes, gives his green power ring to Hal. Our hero is reluctantly chosen by the ring to become part of the Green Lantern Corps, guardians sworn to protect the universe. You almost expect somebody to say, "With great power comes great responsibility." But unfortunately Ben Parker already has that saying trademarked.
Reynolds has all the necessary charisma to play a superhero. He brings plenty of his snarky and sarcastic appeal to the role. But Hal Jordan himself is underwritten and feels like an amateur hero. For somebody who has discovered that there are multiple worlds out there that can sustain living creatures, Hal reacts pretty casually to everything. Where's the sense of awe?
Although I like Blake Lively a lot, she's saddled with the basic love interest role here. Hal rescues her a couple times, she rescues Hal once, she argues with Hal, and she kisses Hal. I will give her some points for being able to recognize Hal with that tiny little mask on. That's more than I can say about that dimwit Lois Lane.
The real letdown in "Green Lantern" is its villains. Peter Sarsgaard plays a wormy little scientist named Hector Hammond who performs an autopsy on Abin Sur. His DNA combines with the aliens, turning him into a telepathic mutant that looks like a caveman dying from cancer. Then you have Parallax, the main antagonist who essentially feels like an underdeveloped final boss for a video game. That's actually what "Green Lantern" often feels like: Watching somebody else play a video game with a lackluster story.
The special effects are the highlight of the movie. There's always plenty of eye candy on display and this is never a dull film to look at. Fanboys will especially relish at live-action incarnations of Tomar-Re, a fish/bird man voiced by Geoffrey Rush, and Kilowog, a colossus alien appropriately voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan. Although some might argue that the film is too reliant on CGI, which is admittedly becoming overused in modern blockbusters.
My defining problem with "Green Lantern" is that the movie is too heavy on exposition. That might seem like an odd complaint since this is an original story. But unlike "Batman Begins" or the first "Spider-Man," it never really takes off. The film is kind of fun and I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel now that the pesky back-story is out of the way. For now though, "Green Lantern" is probably best left as a Blu-ray rental.