It’s not easy being greenTop Highlights, Movie Review Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
MOVIE REVIEW: Last week, NPR posted on their Web site a superhero movie bingo card. To play, you place your chip over squares for such things as “Training montage,” “Christ allegory,” “Acclaimed British actor looking mortified,” “Homoeroticism,” “Daddy issues,” and “Secret identity … revealed!” Get five in a row, and you win. (I don’t suggest yelling “Bingo!” in the theater.) While watching Green Lantern, the latest in the string of summer superhero movies, I could have won three times.
While it’s an enjoyable escape, DC Comics’ only film this summer – as all of the other movies are based on Marvel characters – is somewhat underwhelming and as clichéd as this review’s headline.
Green Lantern is one of the key characters in the DC universe also populated by Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. (Spider-Man, The X-Men and Iron Man exist in the Marvel universe.) One of 3,600 super space cops in the Green Lantern Corps, he wears a ring that gives him the nearly unlimited power of green energy, harnessed from the most potent force in the universe: will. The ring allows its wearer to construct anything his or her mind wants, things like green swords, green helicopters or giant green fists.
The Green Lantern Corps has protected the universe from evil for millennia, and this summer’s movie is about the first human to be deemed worthy of the ring and its accompanying skintight green suit. Hal Jordan is chosen by the ring, since will is apparently sentient, after Earth’s sector’s protector, Abin Sur, is killed by the worst threat to the universe ever, Parallax, who is powered and corrupted by the only force that can rival will: fear. Keeping things clear, will is green and fear is yellow.
I never thought of Hal Jordan as a particularly comedic superhero, but by casting Ryan Reynolds in the role and writing to his strengths, the army of credited screenwriters – four, count ’em! – have turned Green Lantern into a wise-cracking frat boy who can fly and conjure up green Gatling guns. Reynolds, who has a baby face and the body of an Olympic athlete, is best known for his romantic comedies, which he excels at, and he’s convincing as a doubt-wracked lothario suddenly given cosmic responsibility. But his acting is not as subtle, deep or explosive as either Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) or Toby Maguire (Spider-Man), so Reynolds’ superhero is, well, a bit cartoonish, if fun to look at.
Peter Sarsgaard, who plays a scientist infected by Parallax, is covered with hideous prosthetics for most of the film, but his quips and whines are more resonant than the close-ups of Reynolds’ face as he attempts to look pained when he thinks about his dead father.
Meanwhile, Blake Lively, who proved her mettle in last year’s The Town, doesn’t have enough to do; she’s as pretty and tough as action film love interests are supposed to be, but her Carol Ferris is no Lois Lane.
I saw Green Lantern in 3-D, and it was one of the better uses of the technology of the last several years. Still, the colors were muddied, and the visual trickery seemed superfluous. Director Martin Campbell, who so smartly rebooted James Bond with the almost all-analog Casino Royale, was not suited for the almost entirely CGI-ed action sequences. They lacked danger, intensity or art, all of which would have made the film clichés less glaring.
Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard
At your local multiplex
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