Just barely a month after X-men: First Class hit the big screens, along comes Green Lantern, arguably the most high anticipated geek movie of the year (if the Scream award was any indication).
Helmed by Martin Campbell (of James Bond and Legend of Zorro fame), and starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, and Peter Sarsgaard amongst others, the Green Lantern movie is a fair adaptation of the classic DC franchise that returns, more than anything, to its campy, comic book roots. The net result is a fairly entertaining, flashy pastiche of action and adventure that’s got its share of in-jokes, self-deprecating humor, and character gaffs that geeks might find tickling.
The movie’s setup deviates from the comic books, but it’s a convincing start nonetheless. Hotshot flyboy Hal Jordon (Reynolds) is chosen by the ring of the dying Green Lantern Abin Sur to become its new wielder, and must overcome fear and his own weakness to defend the Earth against the dread entity Parallax. Hal eventually learns to control the powers of the ring, beats up egghead scientist Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard), who has the hots for love interest Carol Ferris (Lively) and a universe sized self-esteem problem, and scores the chick after.
The script is a little clunky and contrived (well, quite clunky and contrived), but Ryan Reynolds manages to sally on as the leading man. He’s witty, corny, and he’s got the kind of rubber face to pull it off, but it was really Peter Sarsgaard, in his capacity as the maligned daddy’s boy who suddenly developed psychic powers that sold the show. Sarsgaard’s performance was exceptional (aren’t all superhero movie villains these days?), with a manic intensity that rivaled Reynold’s debonair attitude, and it was a shame to see him go.
Special effects were, naturally, impressive. I would expect nothing less from a movie with a $200 million budget. Parallax, with its Cthulhu-esque appendages, was downright creepy, the world of Oa captivating (especially in its full 3-D splendor), and the funky Green Lantern light constructs were… well, funky.
My only grouse is the lack of story telling magic. It’s simply something the Green Lantern’s not quite able to conjure. While it’s able to evoke the reluctant hero who made good, it’s just not nuanced enough, and character development’s where it really falls short. I’d have loved to see more interaction between Hal and the NPCs (I’m calling them NPCs here, because they only had a couple lines) and stronger motivations all round.
All in all, Green Lantern’s watchable. Hell, it’s even marginally good for a geek flick, though I wouldn’t fork out the extra couple dollars for the digital or 3-D.
Also, be sure to stay for the credits, or you’ll miss out on some important foreshadowing.