Published Jun 16, 2011It's a pretty black night for comic fans and moviegoers alike; the introduction of DC's cosmic police force is hobbled by too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen syndrome. Sloppy story structure, inconsistent art design and unassertive direction are just a few of the problems plaguing Green Lantern. Credited to no less than five writers, this garish fluff feels like an underdeveloped origin story and an overstuffed threequel fighting for space in the same film.
Commencing with disembodied narration delivering budget-cutting exposition ― breaking the cinematic golden rule of "show, don't tell" ― we're introduced to the idea of a Green Lantern Corps, power rings forged from the green essence of willpower, the Guardians of the Universe and their home world, Oa. Blowing the series' villain wad ridiculously early, Parallax, the embodiment of fear, is given screen time before we even meet Hal Jordan or any of his future Green Lantern Corps comrades. It's a misguided attempt to ramp up the action early, deflating any mystery or tension in what is basically the ultimate foe of this mythology.
After this shoddy action sequence sees Abin Sur wounded and headed for a crash landing on Earth, Hal Jordan finally enters the picture. Unfortunately for the obvious suitability and effort demonstrated by Ryan Reynolds, this Hal Jordan is forced to deliver cheap quip after cheap quip, confusing the important difference between cocky asshole and selfish, overconfident thrill-seeker.
Reynolds' comic timing and delivery sell the frequently unnecessary jokes, but just because he can doesn't mean the screenwriting fleet should make him. Rather than fleshing-out character motivations, Hal's back-story is glazed over with brief flashbacks of his father's death while he chokes up during a particularly daring flight test.
Similarly underdeveloped is the relationship between Hal and love interest Carol Ferris (a frequently wooden Blake Lively, of Gossip Girl). Again, we're told about their history rather than shown. Off-world scenarios and characters are clumsily juggled and wasted: Sinestro (decently portrayed by Mark Strong) shows up to be a dick and preach to an assembly of Lanterns wildly mixed in design quality; Kilowog (appropriately voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) is relegated to a truncated training sequence with Hal; and Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) seems to exist only to delivery additional exposition.
Too much time is spent on Earth exploring the relationship between secondary villain, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard, delivering what passes for a strong performance in this campy mess) and his senator father (a paycheque collecting Tim Robbins). Any self-aware jabs at the ridiculousness of the concept and Hal's immature and unimaginative constructs (the physical embodiments of will focused through the power rings) fail to make up for how silly, unimaginative and bloated Green Lantern's story and presentation are.
DC needs to take a page from Marvel's playbook (Thor is infinitely superior at handling cosmic melodrama) if they have any hopes of establishing a worthwhile franchise outside of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Also: worst waste of money on 3D yet; it's barely noticeable. (Warner)