Thursday, June 23, 2011

GREEN LANTERN (2011)

Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg


Directed by Martin Campbell


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas  Hollywood, CA. June 20, 2011  8:20PM



"Green Lantern" is the latest DC comic-book character to be brought to the big screen. This character first appeared in 1940 and has gone through many transformations over the years but he is not as well known as their other characters, Batman and Superman. The time seems right as the technology is available to create an impressive visual world but unfortunately the film makers have not put as much thought in to character development or a decent screenplay.

The film begins with the back-story, as millions of years ago, The Guardians of the Universe, a group of supreme beings, assembled an intergalactic police force to secure and protect the galaxy from harm. This group is called the Green Lantern Corps who meet on the planet, Oa. There is a Green Lantern representative from most of the planets in the universe, which is broken down in 3,600 sectors, and they each are given a ring that sends out a green-colored power light to create whatever than can imagine to help them battle evil.

A powerful threat appears called Parallax that feeds on fear that is destroying all planets in it's path which includes the Earth. Parallax reaches Sector 2814 and does battle with the planet's Green Lantern, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison). Gravely wounded and barely escaping, Abin Sur heads for the closest planet, Earth, in search of a worthy replacement.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a cocky and irresponsible test pilot who works for Ferris Aircraft that is run by Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), a fellow pilot and ex-girlfriend of Hal's. Haunted by his pilot father's death, Hal is is determined not to show fear, just like him and behaves recklessly.

The ring selects Hal as a Green Lantern and brings him to Abin Sur. Before his final breath, he tries to explain to a stunned and very confused Hal about the honor of this position before he is whisked off to the home planet, Oa. Hal is met by Tomar-Re and Kilowog, two fellow Green Lanterns, who attempt to explain to him their philosophy and train him on how to use his new power but Hal is having difficulty and is fearful. Sinestro (Mark Strong), the leader of the Corps, finds humans very primitive and feels that Hal is unfit to wear the ring. Hal agrees and returns back to Earth.

Meanwhile, The body of Abin Sur is recovered by a secret government agency and Dr, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), the highly intelligent but socially awkward son of Senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) has been assigned to the autopsy of the alien. While inspecting a wound on the body, Dr. Hammond becomes infected by Parallax's blood and begins to mutate, which causes his head to become enlarged and misshapen and gives him power to move things with his mind. Parallax is able to communicate with Dr. Hammond and commands him to help him destroy the Earth.

Hal has learned how to properly harness the power of his ring and realizes the eminent danger of Parallax but will he find the courage to be able to defeat this seemingly indestructible monster?

The whole back story of the Green Lanterns is convoluted and silly and I think the film would had been much more interesting if it had kept the plot more focused on the Dr. Hammond character who was much more interesting that the whole Parallax thing, which I have a feeling was the original plan but some focus group made their opinion heard and in comes another writer to appease them. It always concerns me when there is more than two writers involved on a film because it always seems to show as the script feels disjointed and incoherent which is one of the biggest obstacles with this film.

This film is in the unfortunate position of following two other comic-book based films, "Thor" and "X-Men: First Class" out this summer and like those movies, there is plenty of exciting action and better than average visual effects that is expected in this type of film, but "Green Lantern" is clearly lacking in charm (despite all of the overzealous efforts of Mr. Reynolds) and heart which made those two films stand out in this ever expanding field.

Mr. Reynolds certainly looks the part of a super-hero with his ridiculous good-looks, dazzling white teeth, and a well-defined muscular body that is encased in a costume that leaves very little to the imagination and he attempts to play the modern hero with the right amount of humor, arrogance, intelligence and vulnerability but he's still not able to make either Hal Jordan or the Green Lantern particularly dynamic or memorable.

While Ms Lively, best known for TV's "Gossip Girl", surprised me with a fine, gritty performance in last year's, "The Town" but is back in attractive accessory mode as she isn't given much to do beyond doing the girlfriend/damsel in distress role. Mr. Sarsgaard, the most interesting villain in the film, is quite impressive as his character goes through a range of emotions from being timid, frightening and sympathetic. The rest of the film is filled out with a very classy cast including the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan as the Green Lantern trainers and the very welcome return to the big screen of Angela Bassett.

As far as super-heroes movies go, "Green Lantern" is much better than the 2003 misfire, "Daredevil" but no where near the majesty of "The Dark Knight" which managed to combine thoughtful story-telling and fine acting with action-packed adventure. You certainly won't walk out of "Green Lantern" feeling ripped-off as it fits perfectly into your typical formulaic summer movie fare but it never manages to soar above that to make it truly engaging or significant.