Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: Green Lantern (2011) TH

Forget class rings and wedding bands, this is one ring you'll wish you had

A brazen man named Hal Jordan, who tests the limits of everything he does, including flying fighter jets like he's got nothing to lose, has these impressive powers thrust upon himself and has to fill the shoes of an esteemed alien warrior named Abin Sur that crashed on Earth and is dying. If that wasn't enough he's given the responsibility to protect the world with this little bitty ring from a monolithic entity called Parallax that feeds off of fear--like a whispering voice that nags inside your ear and tells you you can't amount to anything before succumbing to its hungry jaws.

Mr. Jordan has a few things on his plate to work out in his personal life, such as continually disappointing those around him, including his family, co-workers and old love interest named Carol who also works with him but grew up and he didn't. Without having a chance to really think about what he's getting into by giving his word to the dying alien and swearing an oath to this weird green orb, he takes what's happening in stride. His powers come out of the ring by accident but it isn't until he's transported to this distant planet called Oa that houses the Green Lantern Corps, does he really understand the scope and magnitude. There are droves of others just like him that are assigned a certain area in the galaxy to protect--except his position is unique because Earth is a younger planet that has never had a ring bearing guardian. He's not taken very seriously and like something out of the Marine Corps has to go through make-or-break training to prove he's up to snuff.

Meanwhile, a hermit named Hector Hammond is taken to a secret facility to examine the body of the alien and in the process is infected by a contagion left over from Parallax from his battle with Abin Sur prior to crashing on Earth. Hal Jordan and Hector Hammond are figuring out what their powers are capable of in interspliced shots. They both crave their fathers' respect and also have an eye for Carol, except she only sees potential love in Jordan. Now with Hammond's powers coming into fruition he decides to do something about it that doesn't include just asking her out because that's not what psychos do.

As a massive budget feature, "Green Lantern" samples the board without being on top of its game with it all. It's mostly easy entertainment that plays it safe and somewhat formulaic at times, though it comes with a few challenges regarding not measuring up to what you're supposed to be and having to conquer yourself before you can beat your enemies. It constantly plays on a relatability factor with the "cool" aspect of having unlimited power that's conjured up from the lantern ring by just using your will. Any object you can think of--such as a machine gun, sword, giant fist--will come out of the ring in a green mirage that packs a physical punch or safety net to save innocents; think of Mr. Fantastic meets Bugs Bunny. Unlike the realism in "X-Men: First Class," this requires more of your imagination to reach out such as traveling great distances so quickly, everybody speaking the same tongue, being able to breath wherever they go, not one astronomer spotting any activity on these distant planets prior. If you're a comic book reader, this won't be a stretch as brushing over the details to accelerate an epic story has been happening since super-heroes were first inked in space.

Ryan Reynolds retains a lot of himself here from past movies by giving out some of his typical one-liners but on the other hand adds a fun element to what could have been serious subjects. Peter Sarsgaard is almost unrecognizable as he keeps it downbeat and deplorable due to sinking further and further into something "else." Like "Iron Man" with Jeff Bridges' character, this attempted to include another big star face, though Tim Robbins plays it stiff and safe as his role didn't require range or any likability. The 3-D gave a chance to show off some of the outer reaches of space with nearly pure CGI shots of planets that jut out and are painted with various splashes of color. Some of it is detailed, though the other parts look somewhat dated and almost what you'd expect out of a video game instead. Not all of the movie required 3-D as a share of it was a building process to a concluding battle where the results felt somewhat inevitable and predictable. That's one aspect a sequel could include more of: more action in between that doesn't have to be crammed till the end instead of distracting with token love interests and unnecessary, quirky buddies on the side.

Director: Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Mark Strong