Movie Review: Green Lantern Isn’t the Brightest Light of Summer Blockbusters

Green Lantern is the Fantastic Four for summer 2011. You can look at that in a good way or a bad way. I am going to take the middle road on this one — but leaning more towards the latter.

Based on the DC Comics character, the Green Lantern is a superhero who can “will” anything (including super powers) with the aid of his nifty green cocktail ring — but he isn’t the only Lantern. There is a planet called Oa where thousands and thousands of Green Lanterns — of every alien race — exist. This brotherhood keeps peace in the universe and each Lantern is charge of an intergalactic sector.

Is your inner-geek surfacing yet? If not, read on. You will dork-out soon enough.

When one of the greatest Green Lanterns, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) gets attacked by a mysterious force of evil, he crash lands on to Earth and on his deathbed, he tells his ring to find a new Green Lantern — this is when Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) comes in.

The ring chooses him and thus launches the age-old Spider-man-esque “with great power comes great responsibility” superhero story.

A little bit about Hal: he’s an awesome pilot and is one wiseass motherf*cker with a heart of gold. He still hasn’t come to terms with the dramatic death of his dad and he has yet to tie up loose ends with his equally awesome pilot/ex-girlfriend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). It only makes sense that he has a life of an irresponsible bachelor — but when you throw in the duties of a universe protector in the mix, he learns to become responsible real quickly. On top of that, there’s a threat on Earth from the aforementioned evil planet-destroying entity who is using Hal’s homeboy Hector (Peter Sarsgaard) as a vessel to carry out his duties. Hal is also the first human chosen to be a Lantern — so there’s also the pressure of that.

With so many plot points, you would think they would interconnect to provide a great superhero movie.

Not so much.

In terms of comic book adaptations, Green Lantern doesn’t deliver cinematic intrigue like Batman Begins or X-Men: First Class. Then again, it’s kind of difficult to cram the heritage story of a time-honored, classic superhero into 105 minutes. The end product is muddled and becomes a platform for a franchise for toys and novelty Green Lantern rings. Instead, it uses it’s celeb wattage and flashy green CGI to its advantage. All the summer movie blockbuster fodder makes the more interesting moral tale of “will” vs. “evil” fall by the wayside — which serves as the lesson of the movie that no one will actually notice.

And why should we notice that? Have you SEEN all the celebs that inhabit this movie? The movie has Ryan Reynolds doing what he does best: acting like a charming wiseass. Then there’s Blake “I am trying my hardest to be a serious actress” Lively and Peter Sarsgaard — who obviously had a lot of fun being the bad guy with a grotesque, veiny over-sized elephantiasis-like head. The rest of the cast is quite impressive as well: Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett and the voices of Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush. Honorable mention goes to Taika Waititi for playing Hal’s irreverently dorky BFF Thomas (and representing the Asian American community).

Who needs intrigue when you have a stellar cast like that? That said, the movie can be tossed into that pile of popcorn-friendly movies that satisfy the need for big explosions, pedestrian action sequences, aliens that look like the Star Wars understudies, 3D glasses, and a half-naked Ryan Reynolds — which is probably the movie’s primary selling point.

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About Dino-Ray

Dino-Ray Ramos is a movie hobbit, social media swaggerist, pop culture junkie, smart-mouthed Asian American warrior, and a well-rounded inhaler of all things entertainment. After uprooting from Texas, he migrated to San Francisco where he shares his irreverent take on high and low brow aspects of culture. In addition to feeding he writes for, Hyphen Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. You can also boost his self-esteem by following his musings on Twitter
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