Review: Green Lantern

Growing up on the streets, you were either a DC man or a Marvel man. (Okay, so they weren’t exactly the “streets”). That meant two very different approaches to the idea of the superhero.

Marvel characters tended to be more realistic with flawed psyches and real world problems getting in their way as much as supervillains. DC always seemed to be more about achieving the impossible through perseverance… through willpower.

The Green Lantern had a particularly tough challenge as a movie. It had to take a very literal alien setting and apply it to the modern world, telling an amazing story on a cosmological level. Even Superman spent pretty much all of his time on earth in his films.

In many ways, Thor was kind of a testing ground for this. Spider-man, the Hulk, Batman, these guys all were well grounded in modern life. But Thor had to spent a lot of time in Asgard. Though the movie was appealing, it didn’t quite get the right blend.

Lantern also had to spend quite a chunk of time off world to tell its story. The opening scenes set up the movie’s plot in a lost sector of the galaxy. And I can’t help but think this was the wrong approach. When you start a film with aliens having their souls ripped out by a floating squid cloud of demonfear, it’s kind of hard to reign things in again.

Despite the beginning, Lantern actually does manage to get on track somewhat. Ryan Reynolds is a great choice for Hal Jordan, though it’s surprising that so little opportunity is given for Reynolds to show his comedic chops. Reynolds rarely gives us more than self-doubt and puppydog eyes. Four to five more jokes would have made all the difference in this movie.

Then there are the plot holes. For example, after arriving on the guardian planet Oa, Jordan is given a way to derive information from a built in database within the ring. This is never really used again. In fact, moments later another guardian has to explain to Jordan all about the world of Oa and the history of the guardians. Wouldn’t that information have been in the ring? It’s pretty basic stuff.

Then there’s the problem of the alien guardians. For some reason they seem to materialize human items with their rings. I can accept that they’re all pretty much humanoid. If the designs were too strange we might be too confused to concentrate on the plot. But surely the effects department could have had a little more fun with it.

Yet, somehow the film still works. When the final throwdown arrived and the bulk of the effects budget was unleashed, I found myself rooting for Jordan. When the credits rolled I felt kind of like I did after Batman Begins. This wasn’t the best start possible for a new movie franchise, but I’ll definitely look forward to seeing more of it.

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