Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

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Of the summer super hero movies released to date, this is the weakest of the group so far. Not saying that it's bad, it just didn't live up to the expectations that has been set by Thor and the X-Men. Those other movies set the bar high for this block buster season and while it wasn't the brightest day or the blackest night, Green Lantern didn't land in the extremes, it was just fair to middling.

Green Lantern Movie Poster
Like so many of our modern day protagonists, our hero-to-be Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) has daddy issues. His dad was a great pilot who died in the call of duty while little Hal was watching. Little Hal grew up and also became a great pilot as demonstrated in a sequence taking cues from Top Gun with Maverick and Goose but in this rendition, the secondary pilot is nicknamed Sapphire and she just happens to be the bosses daughter, real name Carol Ferris (a brunette Blake Lively). Not only is she Jordan's flight team partner, but they used to be an item complicating the team dynamics. During a training sequence Jordan breaks the rules and ends up with severe consequences, although not as dire as what happened to Goose.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Lost Sector of the universe there is an evil force that has gotten loose, is traveling and now gaining strength. When it arrives in sector 2814 which is protected by a green lantern Abin Sur (an unrecognizable Temura Morrison) just one of 3600 green lanterns set up to protect the universe; the evil force fights and injures Abin Sur who escapes to the nearest inhabited planet which happens to be Earth. The power of the green lantern seems to have its own intelligence and is sent forth by Abin Sur to find a replacement for himself since he knows that he's dying. Who better to replace him but Earthling Hal Jordan.

Like any good super hero origin story the appointed hero-to-be has moments of doubt. Jordan ends up putting on the ring and is transported to the planet Oa where the Guardians who created the ring's power and the legion of green lanterns who use the ring's power is headquartered. The head lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong) feels that Jordan is pathetic as a replacement for Abin Sur who is revered among the lanterns. Jordan meets Tomar-Re and Kilowog (voiced by Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan respectively) who give him the background of the green lantern corps and training on how to use the power of the ring. Jordan doesn't believe he can do it and goes home to Earth. You could say that had an uh Oa moment.

Back on Earth, Abin Sur's body is found by the government and examined by a crypto zoologist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) who ends up getting infected by the evil force which was responsible for Abin Sur's death. Within Hammond the evil force grows and eventually causes a transformation of Hammond's body and attracts the larger evil force to Earth. Eventually Jordan has to make a decision if he's good enough and believes in himself enough to battle the evil force and win with the fate of the Earth and the girl hanging in the balance.

The pacing of the story was awkward with the segregation between planet Oa in the set up, then Earth and finally to the big show down. Sarsgaard as the infected guy just didn't seem right. He's a regular guy while having his own daddy issues manifested to bring out this part of him that just didn't seem to be there before in the short set up. The conflicts between Jordan, Hammond and Ferris seemed contrived and forced. When the big battles which gave the PG-13 rating for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence happened there was action of a milder type that didn't leave you hanging on the edge of your seat at any time wondering if the good guy was going to pull through. You know in the long run the good guy will pull through, but what will they have to go through in order to cross the finish line. Were there enough challenges that they overcame that made you want to cheer for them?

The effects laden moments of the film leave you with the ohhh and ahhh factor. Reynolds gets to show off his body both directly and indirectly as the lantern costume instead of being cloth is created by the force of the ring. The movements ebb and flow under the power of the lantern's will and constitutes the green light which constructs the suit and mask. With the intelligence of the ring it determines if the mask is needed or not. Couldn't we all use a mind reading ring! The acting is based on the script and so with the issues already mentioned the actors live up to what was given to them.

At the end of the movie, hang around until the middle of the credits. There is an extra scene that will set up for a sequel if the numbers and responses are good enough. When all 95 minutes were done, I wasn't left wanting to rush out of my seat to get out of there, but I also did think, is this all? So Green Lantern, welcome to the the land of fair to middling.

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