Green Lantern looks so good but feels so empty.
Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a generically cocky fighter pilot with daddy issues (his hero father died in a plane crash) who is also afraid of commitment. Thanks to helpful narration at the beginning, we know that the universe was created by a set of “Guardians” who have harnessed the green power of “will” (I wonder what Fundamentalists think of that?) and have entrusted the safety of the universe to an elite group of peacekeepers called the Green Lantern Corps. As the film opens, a trio of aliens crashes onto a desolate planet in “the Lost Sector” unleashing a malevolent entity known as Parallax. The big-headed villain feeds on fear, sucking the life force from any living thing he meets and swallowing planets whole. He wastes no time mortally wounding the Green Lantern who imprisoned him, sending him plummeting to Earth to look for someone to take his mantle before he dies. The Green Lantern ring “chooses” who will possess it, and for some reason the ring thinks professional screw-up Hal is the best man on Earth for the job.
While the writhing Parallax speeds across the galaxy towards Earth, a wormy scientist named Hector Hammond (played by Peter Sarsgaard) gets infected by some of Parallax’s yellow fear mojo and begins getting a swelled head, literally and figuratively. He is an old schoolmate of Hal’s and is obsessed with Hal’s old girlfriend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and his jealousy makes him a perfect proxy villain for Parallax.
Green Lantern has many plusses going for it. It has the most impressive use of 3-D effects I’ve seen in a live-action film. Reynolds, although dull in the role, looks amazing in his skintight costume. Tim Robbins has fun as Hector’s father, a questionable congressman, and it is always a pleasure seeing Angela Bassett, even in a throwaway role like this.
Given the high expectations for Green Lantern, it may well do blockbuster business, and I have to admit that my friend, who is a longtime fan of the comic book, enjoyed it immensely. For the uninitiated, however, Green Lantern is a comic book movie to leave on the newsstand.
UPDATE: Green Lantern is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.
Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.