It’s official. Green is not a flattering color for superhero movies.
“Green Hornet” did a victory dance earlier this year simply for not living down to its low expectations. The new “Green Lantern,” with a bigger budget and Hunk of the Moment Ryan Reynolds, makes one dread any superhero with so much as a swatch of green in his costume.
“Green Lantern” is so CGI dependent it’s a wonder someone bothered to lug a camera onto the set. Reynolds flexes his appealing blend of arrogance and heart to play the title character, but there’s little super about this hero.
“Green Lantern,” based on the venerable DC Comics title, casts Reynolds as a hotshot pilot named Hal Jordan with serious daddy issues. That doesn’t stop him from bedding the ladies or charming his ex-girlfriend, Carol (Blake Lively), even after double-crossing Carol during an air combat simulation.
One fateful night Hal is drawn to a downed space ship with a dying purple passenger inside. The alien , part of an elite fighting force known as the Green Lantern corps, carries a special ring which selects Hal to be its owner.
Hal is no hero. He’ll be the first to tell anyone that. But the ring always picks the right person to become the next Green Lantern. And Hal better embrace his fate quickly. A creature which looks like something you’d find lodged in your drain pipe is threatening to overtake the galaxy. And he’s got the Earth penned in for destruction in his appointment book.
On the surface, “Green Lantern” supplies some flourishes to the superhero boilerplate already getting worn this summer. The Green Lantern’s powers hail from outer space, and he’s part of an interspecies squad determined to keep evil at bay wherever it may bloom.
Comparing the film to prior superhero efforts isn’t flattering. Watching Hal and Carol flirt recalls the superior sparks thrown off by Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in the first two “Superman” films. And where is the sense of joy found in being able to fly that the best superhero films deliver? Close your eyes and recall Reeve grinning as he took to the skies, or Robert Downey, Jr. feeling that adrenaline burst as his iron suit let him mock gravity.
Hal’s a pilot, for crying out loud. Where’s the delight in being able to fly without wings?
The film’s script, credited to four scribes but hardly worth fighting over, wallows in repetitive chatter about will, fear and courage, as if George Lucas wrote the first draft but then decided to dumb it down. The few flashes of wit, like a nice spin on the superhero identity game, arrive out of nowhere and leave just as swiftly.
Reynolds has the right attitude to play Hal, the man chosen to defend the earth despite his lackluster track record. But what actor could soar in such a setting, or even make his presence known amidst the computer-generated onslaught of visuals? Even the film’s Earth-bound villain, a nebbishy scientist played by Peter Sarsgaard, wouldn’t be fit to fetch Lex Luthor’s coffee.
The prologue gives us the background on the Green Lantern corps, and how they keep the peace across the universe. But it’s just one of several exposition-heavy moments which sap what little sense of adventure seeps out from the story.
Woe is the person expecting “Green Lantern” to become the next superhero franchise. And avoid the film’s 3D incarnation at all costs. That third dimension is virtually nonexistent, making the film the least impressive 3D offering since the technology came roaring back into movie houses.
(Photo: Ryan Reynolds plays a hotshot pilot chosen to join an exclusive intergalactic squad in “Green Lantern.” Warner Bros.)