Director: Martin Campbell
Writers: Gerg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, Michael Goldenberg
Principal cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard and Mark Strong
Release date: 17th June 2011.
Chosen by a dying alien to take possession of a mystical emerald ring, fearless test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is bestowed with cosmic power and eventually becomes a guardian of justice throughout the known universe by joining the ranks of the Green Lantern.
The league of chosen warriors use the pure source of will to combat evil whilst the reluctant Jordan receives training and guidance in how to use his new found abilities from several veteran guardians including the experienced Sinestro (Strong), who doubts the level of willpower and determination held by the newcomer.
But behind Jordan’s outer facade lies an element of self doubt and his commitment to fight evil wherever it may occur is tested as a deadly being known as Parallax, which feeds off the pure source of fear, endangers the known universe.
Parallax has already taken control of the disillusioned and aggrieved scientist Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard) and devoured several warriors of the Green Lantern, whilst Earth itself is next in line.
Martin Campbell has had a successful track record of reinventing and adapting established franchises for cinema. The Mask of Zorro (1998) proved to be a success with audiences and critics alike whilst the director also managed to drag James Bond into the post cold war era with the excellent Goldeneye (1995).
However, the director’s attempt to bring DC’s Green Lantern to the big screen and a wider audience disappoints in two key areas.
The screenplay focuses on all the standard themes of the superhero origin story but adds nothing more and with the Lantern finally filmed decades after it’s initial publication, most viewers will feel that these themes have been screened elsewhere and with more conviction in adaptations such as Superman, Iron Man, Thor, Fantastic Four and even fantasy epics such as the Star Wars saga.
Added to this is the excessive use of CGI, although necessary for this genre of movie, the visual tone of the film is one of excessive and brightly coloured animation which sits uneasily at times with the live footage.
Reynolds’ initially arrogant and gun ho hero is well acted whilst laced with some fine humour, but it’s difficult to root for a character who’s transition from self absorbed jerk to noble crusader happens far too quickly and lacks the redemptive qualities found in films such as Iron Man (2008).
Whilst Blake Lively’s pilot and business heroine certainly looks the part (think Superman’s Louis Lane meets Iron Man’s Pepper Pots), there’s no more to the character than a damsel in distress and squeeze for the film’s hero.
Elsewhere an almost unrecognisable Mark Strong provides a solid and likeable support as the familiar (if doubting) mentor figure whilst Sarsgaard gives a strangely deviant and repressed performance as the possessed professor turned tortured villain (complete with expanding brain).
The film’s rises it’s game in the final act as Hal Jordan confronts Parallax in an explosive showdown and outer space sequence that eventually allows the CGI to shine and the character to fully evolve into his hero self.
And although the ending hints at future adventures, any sequel will surely need to focus more firmly on it’s hero’s development as well as being dependent on the success of this first instalment at the box office.
Although not as bad as some reviews have made out, Green Lantern’s light fails to burn as bright as recent comic book adaptations due to an origin story that lacks depth and a heavily cartoonish visual tone that fails to convince.
Popcorn entertainment, but nothing more.