Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong
Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Michael Goldenberg, Michael Green
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- Ryan Reynolds Becomes Green Lantern
- Universe According to Green Lantern
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- Deleted Scenes
The good news is that Ryan Reynolds isn't nearly as awful as you're thinking he might be in the Warner Brothers latest DC Comics creation, Green Lantern, directed by Martin Campbell (Edge of Darkness, Casino Royale) with a modest degree of faithfulness to its comic book origins excepting Campbell's rather shameless attempt to create a film similar in tone and structure to the vastly superior Iron Man films.
With his endlessly placid facial expression, Reynolds has always struggled to be convincing in films that require anything other than a smooth talker, playboy slacker or lighthearted romantic comedian. Yet, in last year's Buried Reynolds seemed to finally discover the way to work with his physicality and managed to turn in one of the year's most winning, if sadly unseen, performances. In Green Lantern, Reynolds is able to project a sort of easygoing, self-deprecating strength that fits the whole Hal Jordan to Green Lantern transition perfectly. In fact, Reynolds appears so relaxed in the role that you almost wish he'd taken Will Smith's place in Smith's anti-superhero flick, Hancock.
The film starts off as chaotically, but much less powerfully, as Terence Malick's The Tree of Life. Campbell and his team of writers spend the first few minutes of Green Lantern giving an almost mind-numbing amount of plot exposition that will likely only confuse those unfamiliar with the source material. For a good 30 of the film's 105 minute running time, we're getting what amounts to the full back story of the universe's 3000 sectors, the battle between will and fear, the guardians, and how it will come to be that talented yet traumatized pilot Hal Jordan will be chosen for his task. Reynolds has a solid chemistry with Blake Lively, a fellow pilot, ex-girlfriend and aerospace company heiress with whom he obviously still shares a spark that is obviously meant to be more fully explored in future episodes of what is clearly meant as a franchise film.
After the exposition finally ends, thank you, Green Lantern gets down and dirty with quite a few action sequences that are surprisingly intense despite the film's PG-13 rating. When one of the sector's protector's is killed by an evil known as Parallax, Jordan finds himself the first human called into action despite the cynical Sinestro (Mark Strong), one of the strongest protectors among the Green Lanterns. In addition to having to deal with the Parallax, he will have to go toe-to-toe with a quirky, nerdish scientist (Peter Sarsgaard) who becomes infected by yellow power of fear and essentially serves as the welcome wagon for the Parallax.
While Ryan Reynolds is nowhere near as bad as was expected here, neither is he of the caliber of a Robert Downey Jr. or even a Christian Bale, though I'll take Reynolds' voice over that godawful crap Bale uses for The Dark Knight anyday. Reynolds definitely has the chops to portray Jordan's essential ingredients of faux bravado and quiet vulnerability, but he never quite reaches the joyous fun that should have been instilled in this character. Since it's so obvious that Martin Campbell is going for an Iron Man vibe here, it's nearly impossible to not compare Reynolds to Downey, Jr.'s performance and unfortunately for Reynolds he falls quite a bit short. That said, it would be a shame if the blame for the mediocrity of Green Lantern fell on his shoulders as it should clearly rest upon the shoulders of a director who fails to capture the artistry and playfulness contained within the Green Lantern adventure.
Lively is fine here as Carol Ferris, though she's not particularly challenged here by anything and is stuck with rather rudimentary dialogue and a mirror role to that of Gwyneth Paltrow's in, you guessed it, Iron Man.
Peter Sarsgaard certainly serves up the film's most noteworthy performance, especially after he goes from nerdish mad scientist to John Merrick in a lab coat. Once Sarsgaard is overcome with elephant mania, his performance is a hoot despite going ridiculously over the top. Sarsgaard is typically such a serious indie actor that you can't help but be pleased with the way that he completely cuts loose.
Mark Strong is dependable as always with a performance that feels tailor made for the next Star Trek, while Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins do what they can as supporting players.
Green Lantern is yet another film where the whole 3-D thing is a complete waste, with only 1-2 shots mildly justifying the extra 2-3 bucks you'll pay to watch the film wearing silly glasses. The film has far too many dead end scenes on the planet Oa, scenes that feel lifeless and pointless and, perhaps even worse, visually lacking in appeal.
Audience response at the film's Indianapolis screening was decidedly muted, with mostly polite applause as the film's closing credits scrolled by and we waited on the inevitable closing credits revelation that would hint at what Warner Brothers hopes will be the film's sequel. It does arrive. It's not particularly surprising.
Ordinarily, when a film as mediocre as Green Lantern hits the theaters I practically beg you to consider one of the weekend's other opening films. In this case, however, the three films opening this weekend, including The Art of Getting By and Jim Carrey's Mr. Popper's Penguins, are just as mediocre. The best decision may be to visit one of last weekend's films, perhaps the very well done Super 8. While Parallax is far more visually interesting than any ole' alien in Super 8, ultimately Green Lantern is inferior by virtually every other measure.
In brightest day, In blackest night
No bad movie shall escape my sight
Let those who direct such cinematic fright
Beware my power...the truth I write!
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic