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8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Green Lantern

A Green Spectacle

Director: Martin Campbell

Writers: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggebheim, Michael Goldenberg

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Geoffrey Rush

Green Lantern movie image

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SYNOPSIS: Earthling test pilot Hal Jordan is selected by a mystical power ring to become a Green Lantern, a member of a intergalactic peacekeeping corp. Faced with a force that may destroy his planet, Jordan must learn to overcome his doubts and fears to wield the power of the ring.

Another member of the Justice league of America has finally come to life before our eyes. Joining Superman and Batman on the big screen, and Wonder Woman and the Flash from their efforts as individual television series, the Green Lantern marks the fifth 'Big Gun' of the DC Comic Universe to get the live action treatment the comic fanboys and fangirls have been waiting for.

Director Martin Campbell, best known for Mel Gibson's Edge of Darkness, Antonio Banderas' The Mask of Zorro and Daniel Craig's Casino Royale, takes a huge leap forward with the CGI-heavy origin of Hal Jordan as the green power ring wearing Emerald Knight. Not the original wearer of the mantle of Earth's Green Lantern (Alan Scott wore the ring and mask in DC's Golden Age) or the only green power ring wearer of the Silver Age or Modern Age (DC boasts John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner), Hal Jordan still retains the crown as the most popular Lantern. Can Hal Jordan and his origins of wearing the willpower driven power ring as a rookie in the Green Lantern Corps overcome both a former friend and colleague with corrupting mental powers and planet destroying creature of fear called Parallax?

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan / Earth's Green Lantern plays a reckless defense contractor test pilot, wrought with images of his test pilot father who died walking away from a crashed plane. Since then, Hal walks away from anything that looks like commitment as it comes to relationships, afraid to live up to the self-imposed expectations and memory of his father. Reynolds mugs in all the right places with his Hal Jordan and looks great in uniform, but still seems like a man out of place at times. With the Green Lantern Corp power ring, Hal faces a honor and responsibility that he nor the Lantern Sinestro is ill-equipped to fulfill. Mark's Strong's Sinestro is picture perfect, a stoic, tradition filled life-long Green Lantern in charge of his own sector of the universe, blending the mystery and drive of Sherlock Holmes Lord Blackwood into a pointed-eared, red-hued soldier of the Corps.

In Addition, on the CGI world of OA, we are treated to a watered-down version of any planet dreamed up by the Star Wars franchise and Industrial Lights and Magic teams. The Guardians of OA look cool, although their mouths could have lined up better with their individual dialogue. The GL combat training officer Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) exceeds expectations, primarily shown in a training montage against Jordon. Tomar Rey (voice by Geoffrey Rush) as Jordan's guide for the rookie Jordan, nails the look and demeanor of a well-loved GL character. And we get a taste of the 3,600 Green Lanterns protecting the universe, even if only for such brief glimpses that the diehard Green Lantern comic fans may not be able to come up with the character names quick enough. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, Jordan's on-again, off-again sweetheart, test pilot wingman, and defense contractor boss lights up her scenes, but isn't developed enough to give us a reason to invest in her with Jordan.

As for the antagonists in Green Lantern, we get a double shot of a earth-bound Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) and a Oan Guardian turned galactic entity of fear and devourer of worlds (not Galactus, folks!) in the form of Parallax. Sarsgaard's Hammond also has daddy issues, and uses an accident and gain of mental powers in an attempt to win the love of Carol Ferris and the approval of his father. On a cosmic scale, the comics-derived Parallax takes on a new look and origins as the parasitic organic engine of fear looking to get revenge on the Guardians of Oa and the wearer of the power ring who once imprisoned him in the Lost Sectors of space. Parallax ends up looking like the Fantastic Four: RIse of the Silver Surfer's energy-sucking cloud Galactus with a face and a voice.

Biting off a little more then he could chew with a CGI-heavy green screen flick, director Campbell makes the mistake of reaching too far in the scope of creating the the Oan Green Lantern Corp homeworld and the thousands of Green Lantern Corp soldiers and recruits, but falling short on much of the visual details and realism that other sci-fi and fantasy movie franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings dazzled audiences with. Some visual highlights are the concept and design of the power ring and the GL uniforms and some of the willpower created weapons and defenses - always a difficult task, even in the full-color pages of the comics. But the story, even though a team effort by five writers, seems both appropriate and far-fetched. Superman Returns featured better flying, Spider-man 2 brought us better protagonist angst, and Iron Man handled a story with more heart. For future reference, film makers should simply look at any of the Marvel Avenger-related films or the last two Batman films for how to delight audiences with a superior superhero story. For now, Green Lantern will fill the Summer season as a workable DC comics entry to the Justice League canon of films, but will not see the brightest day as soon as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Captain America: The First Avenger make their debut.

NOTE: If you do see this film, watch the credit for a bit for an Easter Egg scene!

WORTH: Matinee or BluRay

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