Green Lantern review (DVD)

Yet another addition to the ever growing mass of superhero movies, Green Lantern is a workmanlike effort that fails to cast a spell. Its lead character is Hal Jordan, a hot-shot jet pilot, personably but also blandly played by Reynolds, an easygoing actor whose pecs will doubtless keep the girls happy. He's an ordinary guy reluctantly recruited by by the Green Lantern Corps, an extra-terrestrial race led by stern looking Strong, who reside on the planet Oa.  Their sworn enemy is a monstrous being called Parallax, and this nasty creature infiltrates itself into Hal's boyhood pal Hector (Sarsgaard), a schlebby scientist with father issues.

Hal has no super powers until he dons a special ring, thereby turning him into the Green Lantern and allowing him to conduct feats of derring do through the power of his imagination, such as saving his childhood crush Carol (the beautiful Lively) from the increasing villainy of Hector, who can read minds and cause carnage.

It's an origin movie, another of those fantasy films where the protagonist is trained in his secret abilities and slowly comes to terms with the responsibility he now has of saving the human race and also the poor inhabitants of Oa. Visually it's very confident and the 3D work is impressive at times, especially on the opulent Oa. As the camera soars through this colourful alien world its detailed, painterly look is very persuasive and eye catching.

But overall it's a stodgy rehash of other, better superhero movies. There are elements of Spider-Man in the green costume and mask he sports and also in the somewhat prickly relationship he has with his quasi-paramour, and Superman comes to mind in the flying sequences and in the big moment where he makes his first public appearance saving the day. Remember the elation you felt when Christopher Reeve saved Margot Kidder from plunging to her death from the helicopter accident in Richard Donner's 1978 classic? Or when Brandon Routh rescued all the airplane passengers and touched the plane down in the playing field in front of the thousands of spectators in the 2005 reboot? In both cases, the effect was spectacular and memorable.

Green Lantern is but a poor shadow, but at least it has the wit to recognise this. When he conjures up a racetrack in his attempt to save Tim Robbins' dastardly senator as well as Clare at the big black tie and ballgown event, his friend later laughs at him decrying his talents. But said event lacks excitement and the film is devoid of any sense of awe. Sarsgaard gives a good account of himself though as the bitter baddie with a chip on his shoulder. His seedy countenence and hangdog expression is ideal, imbuing the character with the right amount of cynicism to instigate the destruction he craves.

It's overstuffed and drags at times, culminating in a surfeit of CGI effects at the climax that fail to engage. A derivative but serviceable superhero tale then, but not one to render any great enthusiasm for the inevitable sequel. Watchable enough but hardly wonderful.


Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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