"In brightest day, in darkest night..." Say these words to any self-respecting comic book fan and they'll recognize it as the opening of the oath of the Green Lantern Corps (the fan will probably finish saying the oath as well), the intergalactic protectors of the universe armed with rings, powered by will, that can create anything the user imagines. Green Lantern brings this world to the big screen for the first time; but while the technology to make the power rings and aliens seem real is here, the human elements -- like acting and story -- are lacking.
Most of Green Lantern is split between space and Earth. Somewhere in space, a powerful entity called Parallax has been freed and is charging across the galaxy, destroying civilizations as it either sucks people's fear from them (leaving their skeletons behind) or spits bolts of yellow energy at them. The Green Lantern Corps may find itself outmatched for the first time by this being. Green Lantern Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) was mortally wounded by Parallax and, crashing on Earth, sends his ring to choose his replacement.
That replacement is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Hal is a terrific fighter pilot, but he's an irresponsible screw-up in the rest of his life (and scared by visions of his father dying in a plane explosion). He spends most of the movie thinking his getting the ring was a mistake -- a sentiment echoed by Green Lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong), a friend and admirer of Abin Sur.
For a romantic interest of sorts, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) is Hal's ex, plus a fellow fighter pilot, plus a wannabe businesswoman, plus the daughter of the owner of the company they work for. And nerdy scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) gets infected with a piece of Parallax, turning him into a large-headed villain with telekinetic and psychic powers.
As you might expect, a superhero movie relies largely on the actor playing the hero -- and Ryan Reynolds is a huge disappointment. Movies like this often have the hero's journey of discovery in their abilities, but Ryan spends so much time as the charming, lovable loser that his transition to hero seems unbelievable --as is his showing up the other, far-more-experienced Green Lanterns. Blake Lively is adequate as the moral support for Hal, but terrific actor Peter Sarsgaard is given a very one-dimensional role as the earthbound villain. (The movie also wastes the talent of Tim Robbins, playing Hector's father.)
Sadly, Green Lantern is also lacking in both story and action. Splitting the movie between space and Earth is distracting, plus it slows down the pacing to the point of frequent boredom. (There are also numerous "what the?" scenes where characters act in unbelievable ways.) And given the advances in cgi and special effects, there's a disappointing lack of use of the power ring -- one of the potentially most creative devices in the comic book universe -- through the movie. The pacing
Green Lantern has some chuckles here and there, but this was a letdown. If only they would have cast Nathan Fillion in the lead...
Overall grade: D+
Reviewed by James Lynch