Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 18 June 2011
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
The Green Lantern (3D)
Unlike DC Comics superheroes Batman and Superman, the Green Lantern needs lots and lots of introduction and backstory. Green conjures up “Hornet” more than “Lantern” so all of his history and creation must be explained (and is) in a long opening chapter of the film. That’s just the space intro.
The earth intro acquaints us with Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), an Air Force test pilot hotshot who can still freeze up at the memory of his father’s death, which he witnessed. Martin Jordan (John Tenney) was a pilot as well, whose fearlessness Hal admires but can’t quite master.
These two introductions combine when head Green Lantern Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) is fatally wounded by the evil, fear-fuelled Parallax; his spaceship crash lands on Earth. His power ring (green, of course) and its charger, a literal green lantern the size of a car battery must be transferred to a new owner, whom the ring chooses. Why, that would be none other than our reluctant, conflicted hero, Hal Jordan, who is sucked to the crash site by a green, hazy electrical storm, in time for Abin Sur’s final mandate to him. Superpowers, green suit and mask follow.
A little backstory to the backstory: Green is the color of Will, which is what powers the lantern, the ring and the wearer of the ring. The enemy of Will is Fear, which is yellow. Green, good, Yellow, bad. Parallax is Fear. The Green Lantern(s) are Will and use their power for good.
I’m speaking in plurals because there are actually 3600 Green Lanterns forming a Corps, a large galactic peacekeeping force; each one is assigned to a sector of the universe. They are overseen by the Guardians, big, blue-gray egg-headed creatures with four nostrils and gowns that need serious hem alterations. The planet’s name is Oa.
There is only one enemy though, but he’s big. Parallax is a huge tentacled creature resembling an octopus made out of burning, black “snake” pellets, the ones that incinerate into coiling ashes. He is a former Guardian that got sucked over to the dark side by Fear. Like reformed smokers, reformed Guardians are the worst, crabby, ill-tempered and looking to convert everyone else to their way of thinking. Parallax literally smolders with rage and feeds on fear, becoming ever more powerful.
One night, Hal is transported through space by another green, hazy electrical storm. He arrives on Oa at a type of Green Lantern Boot Camp where he gets verbal advice from the fish-faced alien Tomar-re (Geoffrey Rush), and physical instruction from the military trainer Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan). He also merits the immediate disdain of the Corps. Commander, Sinestro (Mark Strong).
In the universal scheme of things, humans are inferior, the low men on the cosmic totem pole, and Sinestro clearly believes that Jordan does NOT have the right stuff. Jordan believes it, too.
Swirling around this scenario are other, earth-bound characters like Jordan’s girlfriend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) vice president of Ferris Aircraft and a pilot herself, albeit one in stilettos, painted-on clothing and a swooping waterfall of chestnut hair. Her father Carl (Jay O. Sanders) owns the aviation company and is good friends with U.S. Senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) whose son Hector (Peter Sarsgaard) is a scientist, though always in his disapproving father’s shadow.
It is Hector who performs the autopsy on Abin Sur, picking up some of Parallax’s DNA along the way. This morphs him into a misshapen, power-seeking minion for Parallax. He’s always harbored an unrequited love for Carol Ferris as well, which puts him squarely in the ring of combat, opposing both Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern. Speaking of rings, a yellow one, powered by fear, manifests itself and is an entirely different storyline.
Now we have two mortal guys touched by extraterrestrial power on opposing sides and fighting over a woman. And, oh yeah, the fate of the entire world.
Hector is telepathic and can hear his father’s disparaging thoughts about him, inciting a rage that manifests at a party. The Green Lantern intervenes and the stage is set for a deadly showdown.
Earth is within Jordan’s sector, and he must defend it, especially when the whole roiling Parallax mass comes to pay a visit on terra firma.
Ryan Reynolds is alternately likeable and unconvincing as the green-clad superhero. Peter Sarsgaard and Mark Strong are more compelling characters here, and it’s not even their movie. Blake Lively is simply ornamental, unbelievable as a fighter pilot or vice-president, but par for the course as a comic book female. Tim Robbins’ character is of little consequence and the same can be said for Jay O. Sanders. Angela Bassett makes two brief appearances as Dr. Amanda Waller and looks very Grace Jones-y in the role.
Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) concentrates on “CGI candy”, which is appealing, vicarious fun. It’s whenever someone opens their mouth that the production falters. The requisite romance injects a syringe of dull and cliché into the mix. Dialogue is uninspired except for a few good one-liners sprinkled throughout the 105-minute runtime. The film does not benefit from 3D effects.
Four writers, Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, (Everwood) Marc Guggenheim (Flash Forward) and Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) take the production in multiple directions, from serious to slapstick, from wiseass to whimsical. The result is a disjointed effort that could have been fantastic but will just have to settle for functional.
There most certainly will be a sequel, and with it comes another chance to light the lantern properly. Green is a tricky color to work with, and like Kermit the Frog said, it’s not easy.