In this summer’s latest superhero blockbuster “Green Lantern,” Blake Lively (as the love interest Carol Ferris) sums this movie up quite nicely with one line, “Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you because I can’t see your cheekbones?”
No amount of over-the-top computer animation or Ryan Reynolds’ charms and perfect abs can disguise what this film really is—a mess.
Director Martin Campbell’s disjointed telling of this fairly well-known comic starts well enough. Those of us whose knowledge of the Green Lantern is somewhat limited, receive a quick course on what we need to know.
Many, many years ago, a group of all-powerful beings harnessed the energy of willpower. They transferred some of this power into rings which give their wearers the power to create anything they can imagine. Then these guardians created the planet Oa and put the Green Lantern Corps in charge of using the green energy of willpower to keep peace in the universe. The Corps has only one enemy Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown), an entity that feeds on the yellow energy of fear, and is about to make an escape from its poorly guarded prison.
Parallax fatally wounds Abin Sur(Temuera Morrison), the one Lantern who managed to stop him during his first rampage. Abin then sends out a signal to pick out his predecessor (and this is when it gets confusing).
The ring, of course, chooses Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) a fearless, slacker test pilot. Against his will, Jordan accepts the responsibility of the ring, and joins the Green Lantern Corps. From there he overcomes the doubt of the corp leader, Sinestro (Mark Strong), childhood sweetheart (and boss?) Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), Parallax (who is now a bloated version of the “Smoke Monster” form “Lost”), and the evil villain scientist…or innocent victim/ insignificant henchman…wait no childhood friend…no, crazy lunatic…well, let’s go with the big-headed Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard).
The plot line goes back and forth and occasionally sideways in an attempt to create some sort of coherent thread out of this jumble of plot points. At times, it feels like the writers could not make up their minds about where they wanted this story to go. For their sake, I hope there is an editing room floor covered with “Green Lantern” flashbacks, an actual villain, Hal Jordan family scenes, and Hector Hammond character development. So many references to previously undisclosed facts are made, that it’s no wonder that Hammond’s brain swells to the size of a watermelon. Through all of this storytelling madness the cast desperately tries to win your approval.
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan could have been comic book movie gold. He’s got the likability and the superhero body. Plus you can’t help but like the guy. However, all his adorable smiles and charms cannot save this film.
As the forgettable Carol Ferris, Blake Lively does well enough. While she gets points for being the only superhero female lead I know of to see straight through the eyebrow covering facemask, there’s really nothing exceptional about this character or Lively’s performance.
Mark Strong seems to once again be playing the villain as Sinestro, the other purple alien, but with a last-minute rally he escapes this fate with a complete 180. It’s nice to see Strong actor break out of a type cast, but it would be even better if it was done with a better story.
Poor, poor Peter Sarsgaard as the bloated Hector Hammond tries so hard to make his character have some semblance of a story to latch onto. Between his giant cranium, access to top-secret government facilities, teaching career, invisible back story with Jordan, senator father…and I think you get the point. It’s hard to wrap your head around this one. All can say is, if you haven’t seen Sarsgaard in other films, do not judge the actor based on this one movie.
“Green Lantern” may have a strong cast hidden under the mask of a poorly constructed plotline, but in the end it’s not enough. It doesn’t even manage to be fun, popcorn entertainment. There are funny moments, and even some cute ones, but all are lost in the swirling confusion that could have been a nice addition to the comic book movie genre. Unless you are a huge Ryan Reynolds fan (I mean to the point that you should probably seek counseling) you can skip this one.
…feel free to judge for yourself: