We know that we’re neck deep in the summer movie season when we finally get to the third comic book movie. This summer has already seen two decent comic book movies in X-Men: First Class and Thor. Those two films were fun, energetic, and full of lively characters. That’s why they made such good movies. The Green Lantern, sadly, lacks in just about every category.
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a hot-shot fighter pilot who apparently has no fear when it comes to flying. Superheroes are interesting when their alter-egos are timid and afraid of the power they possess. It’s overcoming that fear and harnessing the power that makes them great. A cocky superhero that thinks he’s all-powerful to begin with is a bit of a turn off. Hal has no real inner struggle with himself. He isn’t like Peter Parker who was a nerdy young man thrust into being a superhero without wanting it. By all accounts egomaniac Hal Jordan craves attention. That really isn’t the mark of a hero. That’s the mark of a celebrity.
After Hal’s hot-shot maneuvering crashes an expensive jet he finds himself wallowing in self-pity. The only inner struggle going on with Hal is the fact that he just can’t get over himself. He’s too wrapped up in himself to care about the world or people around him. Then, well, here’s the cliffnotes version. A green ball picks Hal up, transports him to a dying alien who has just come to earth, the alien gives Hal a ring and a green lantern, and presto change-o, Hal is now a intergalactic protector of the universe. The ring gives the wearer the power to create anything his imagination can conjure up.
The Green Lanterns are protectors of the universe, which has been split up into something like 3,600 quadrants, each containing its own protector. Am I boring you yet? Well, I’m just getting you ready for the movie, which spouts exposition ad nauseam. That’s all these characters do. When Hal travels to a far away planet to train to become a super hero savior, they tell story after story. After all, we the audience is apparently too dumb to figure it all out, right? We need to be guided step by step through the whole intergalactic history book.
Of course earth will be in danger, and of course Hal will have to save it. Of course the girl he cares about the most will be put in harms way and of course he’ll have to save her too. So, if “The Green Lantern” is going to churn out comic book movie cliché one after another, there has to be something that sets it apart. Sadly, there isn’t. The movie’s herky-jerky tone shifts violently from one CG-laden action scene to the next punctuated by cheesy scenes with Hal talking to his girlfriend, or Hal talking to aliens, or Hal talking to himself.
One has to wonder what a great actor like Peter Sarsgaard is doing in this movie. He plays Hector Hammond who, in the grand scheme of things, ends up being a throwaway villain that never mattered in the first place. Sarsgaard has been given a makeover. His hairline is receding, and his melon grows to abnormal proportions after an “incident.” None of that matters though, because the man with the most acting talent in the movie has been reduced to a sniveling ingrate who shuffles around snarling at people.
When all is said an done, The Green Lantern is one of the most anti-climactic movies out there. We’ve spent so much time on exposition that when time comes to save the world from utter destruction the filmmakers have to fast-track it and hope we didn’t notice. Unfortunately, for them, we do. I wish I had the power to imagine that I’d never seen The Green Lantern in the first place.