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In a summer that looks to be overrun with flights of comic book fancy, a movie has to work extra hard to stand out.  Unfortunately for DC Comics’ Green Lantern, the only way it will distinguish itself is by being one of the goofiest superhero movies of the year.  Is its problem the flat, brain-dead script?  The painful lurches in momentum anytime the drab romance is dragged front and center?  Is it the loopy, uniquely comic book quality of Green Lantern’s powers?  All these things contribute to make a mush of this display of CGI not-quite-wizardry that will only appeal to the youngest boys in the audience.

Hal Jordan is a rebel; a hot dogging flyboy venerated for his aerial skills, but generally considered an irresponsible screw-up in all other respects.  Tortured by the untimely passing of his pilot father, Hal seems to court a death wish, pulling stunts in the skies that could get himself and anyone in the near vicinity killed.  Is there nothing Hal really cares about?  Responsibility hooks Hal by the finger as he discovers an unbelievable sight; a crashed alien aircraft with its pilot barely hanging on to life inside. The failing ET only manages to give Hal the briefest of instruction, telling the human to put on his ring and power it using a glowy green lamp.  After many failed attempts and feeling downright silly having called on both the power of Greyskull and Buzz Lightyear, the ring suddenly activates, exposing Hal to its otherworldly powers and instilling in him the knowledge and history of the Green Lantern corps.  This education includes a trip to planet Oa, the headquarters for the thousands of Green Lanterns across the universe now gathered to quell the threat of a returning menace called Parallax, whose next stop is Earth for a quick bite to eat.  Finding his new comrades’ faith in him on par with those on Earth, Hal must go it alone against the nasty alien invader who has some unexpected help on the inside from a scientist frenemy of Hal’s with his own daddy issues and lust for Hal’s maybe-girl.  So complicated.

So dumb.  There’s just no inspiration to Green Lantern.  The most special effect in the whole production is Ryan Reynolds’ backside in the hard, plasticky-looking Green Lantern outfit; one of the nicest bits of Hollywood padding since Michelle Pfeiffer’s hyper-fluffy derriere in 1992’s Batman Returns.  There’s an inordinate amount of scenes of Reynolds in only the smallest of skivvies throughout a goodly portion of the film, but even that estimable sight wasn’t enough to save a film so lacking in imagination or wit.  Perhaps part of the problem is that Green Lantern’s power itself makes an odd translation to film.  The Lantern’s ring makes Hal Jordan’s thoughts a reality; he can’t just ask it to blow up an alien ship or knock someone across a room.  Jordan must actually think of a giant fist that then materialises out of green light from the ring and punches his opponent.  The same silliness occurs with a crashing helicopter; Hal’s quick thinking conjures up a sort of transport train which carries the disabled aircraft along a race car ramp over the heads of potential victims on the ground. 

Sound convoluted?  Boy is it; as are the Gatling guns, catapults and other weapons that Hal must manually operate against his foes instead of the ring simply being able to dispatch the bad guys.  It’s early days yet, but I’m betting if there’s any kind of award for worst visual effect of the year it’s going to Peter Sarsgaard’s bloated-headed alien mutation, which turns him into an unfortunate doppelganger for Rocky Dennis from the 1985 film Mask.  What I wouldn’t give to see the blackmail pictures that convinced Sarsgaard to agree to this.  There must also be some incriminating Photoshop lying around the excellent Mark Strong, who plays Sinestro (- talk about telegraphing), the leader of the Green Lantern corps in fuchsia skin, a lopsided, bulbous head with painted-on hair and painful looking yellow contacts.  

I also protest the waste of the sublime Angela Bassett, who I’ve not seen in a “big” Hollywood production for ages only to watch her wasted here as a government agent sporting unflattering helmet hair and a pair of fabulous but highly impractical stilettos.  The script is so bland and cliché that unintentional laughs accompanied moments that were meant to rouse sympathy for GL’s earth-saving cause.  I found myself substituting my own dialog for the humdrum lines being spoken, especially any involving Blake Lively, playing Hal’s co-pilot/galpal and clothing -- or lack thereof.  Hal to Carol who’s wearing a spiffy business suit instead of pilot gear, “I barely recognised you,” Me: ‘With your clothes on.’  Carol reprimanding Hal: “Do you know what I spent my afternoon doing?”  Me: ‘Did it involve a cellphone?’  The rimshots abounded, infinitely more amusing than anything that was actually written for the screen.  One rare clever moment involved Hal appearing before Carol in his Green Lantern regalia for the first time, including a teensy, utterly pointless plastic domino mask. “You think I wouldn’t recognise you because I can’t see your cheekbones?”  Outside of that sparky second that also speaks to every Superman fan, Lively’s no Margot Kidder and any moment spent on the romance between Hal and Carol is a moment wasted.  Reynolds tries hard to make the character work, but it’s a tall order with material this shallow.  We get a glimmer of the Hal Jordan comic fans have come to love toward the very end of the piece as the Lantern fights Parallax, a fully-CGI creature that looks like the love child of a dreadlock wig and a giant dust bunny, but it’s far too late for anyone to care.  How odd that Reynolds did better in Marvel Comics’ 2009 Wolverine film as Deadpool, a loudmouth mercenary who is mutated into a bald sword-armed monster with no mouth at all.  Maybe Marvel will let him back into the franchise?

There is an Easter egg for those who care to hang around after the main credits, but it’s a portent of a cliffhanger so predictable and set up so far in advance that it’s hardly worth spending the extra minute.  It seems even more a waste considering I would be surprised if there is ever a sequel to Green Lantern that premieres anywhere outside of Netflix.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

June 17th, 2011

 

 

 

 

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© 2006-2017 The Diva Review.com

 

 

 

Photos

(Courtesy of  Warner Brothers)

 

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