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Green Lantern
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Reviewed on 2011-06-17
Received[2.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreAction / Crime / Sci-Fi
The summer of superheroes at the movies continues with one of D. C. Comics second-tier crime fighters. The born on date goes all the way back to July of 1940 when the character was introduced in “All-American Comics” #16. During the Silver Age superhero boom of 1959, Hal Jordan donned the mask becoming one of the coolest and most consistent characters in the DC Comics’ arsenal along with fellow Justice League members Superman and Batman.

Highly acclaimed United Kingdom filmmaker Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale,” “Edge of Darkness” and “The Legend of Zorro”), age 67, takes the director’s chair and does the honors of launching this blockbuster franchise.

This CGI-heavy special effects extravaganza begins with a prologue that has way too much exposition to absorb in one sitting for non-comic book fans. Immortal aliens known as Guardians sit atop the planet Oa similar to the Greek gods on Mount Olympus. They have little blue bodies and big craniums. They created The Green Lantern Corps, a group of fearless multi-species warriors to patrol the universe and maintain peace, order and justice. Each of the 3,600 members is responsible for a certain sector and is issued a camping lantern used to recharge a ring that allows them to harness “the emerald energy of willpower.”

A rogue guardian known as Parallax (the voice of Clancy Brown) poses a new threat to the balance of power. It is an evil, constantly morphing, nebulous mass that feeds on fear and grows stronger and more powerful with each mortal soul it devours. It has managed to kill four members of the Corps, including the legendary Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), an arrogant purple humanoid who crash lands on Earth. Sur’s dying declaration is that his willpower-channeling ring seeks out a worthy successor to replace him.

The ring chooses to bestows its mystical otherworldly powers on daredevil test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds from “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “The Proposal” and “Van Wilder”). The cocky Jordan with a self-deprecating sense of humor becomes the first human Lantern. He is transported by a green energy bubble into space ending up on the planet Oa. He meets Sinestro (Mark Strong from “Sherlock Holmes,” “Kick- Ass,” “Robin Hood” and “The Eagle”), the leader of the Corps, who is skeptical that any human possesses the skill and intelligence required to be a galactic space cop. Hal’s training is conducted by combat coach Kilowog (voice of Michael Clarke Duncan) and fishy mentor Tomar-Re (voice of Geoffrey Rush).

Meanwhile back on Earth, xenobiologist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard from “Knight and Day,” “An Education” and “Kinsey”) is performing an autopsy on Sur’s corpse. He becomes infected by the radioactive yellow slime and fear entity

Parallax possesses his body. Hector’s swollen brain gives him the ability to read minds and he goes on a rampage turning into the bad guy.

The love interest for flirtatious, wisecracking and less than confident Hal and the creepy, bulbous-headed Hector is Carol Ferris (Blake Lively from “Gossip Girl,” “The Town” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”). Carol is a fellow pilot and the heiress to her father’s company Ferris Airlines. She is negotiating for a lucrative government military contract with Hector’s very influential senator father (Tim Robbins). Angela Bassett (“ER” and “Akeelah and the Bee”) rounds out the cast as Dr. Amanda Waller.

The four screenwriters were inspired by the “Emerald Dawn” and “Secret Origin” issues of the comic book collection. The former told the story of Hal Jordan’s induction into the Corps and how he became its greatest member. The latter is a modern retelling of Jordan’s early days as a Green Lantern.

It is best to forget the convoluted nonsensical story and go with the flow of the action. It all boils down to the classic battle of good versus evil denoted by the colors green and yellow. These distinctive hues also symbolize “will” emanating from the ring worn by Hal and “fear” oozing from Parallax and subsequently Hector. Both doer Hal and thinker Hector feel like total screw-ups in adulthood unable to live up to their father’s expectations. They take different paths in proving themselves worthy and end up on opposite sides.

This fun summer popcorn movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. At times, it seems cartoonish and a little over the top. Everything looks great on screen with the spectacular special effects and exciting action sequences overcoming cheesy dialogue and a convoluted story lacking cohesion and character development.

Canadian actor Reynolds, most likely distraught over his hometown Vancouver Canucks deciding game 7 defeat to the newly-crowned Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, gets by with his effervescent charisma and likeable personality. He injects humor into this mixed bag and demonstrates vulnerability and the courage to overcome fear. He looks cool in his skin-tight, digitally-enhanced green getup that sculpts his body into a perfectly contoured shape.

Lively is a knockout beauty that fulfills every male fantasy. The costume department gets high marks for dressing her in eye-appealing wardrobes. The budding on screen romance between Reynolds and Lively starts out slowly, but culminates with one of the year’s best kissing scenes.

Sarsgaard is saddled with a bad makeup job and chews up the scenery with a hammy over-the-top performance. New Zealander Taika Waititi makes an impression as Hal’s geeky best friend Thomas Kalmaku. Hal demonstrates to Thomas how the lantern serves as a battery to recharge the ring. He also shows Thomas how he constructs things that he initially imagines in his mind.

Oscar-winning Aussie cinematographer Dion Beebe (“Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Chicago”) deserves kudos for his expertise in handling the camera work. New Orleans was an astute location choice for the scenic backgrounds. The movie was splendidly converted in post-production to 3D. It is the best way to view this movie and worth the premium price because it adds depth to the screen and pulls you into an immersive sci-fi world that goes back forever without delineated limits. Motion-capture suits were worn by the actors playing Green Lantern, Sinestro and Abin Sur to make all the movement look so natural. The creative design work brings a sense of awe and wonder. The icing on the cake is a dynamically powerful original instrumental musical score from Oscar-nominated composer James Newton Howard (“Defiance” and “Michael Clayton”).

The ironic timing of opening nationwide on Father’s Day weekend couldn’t be more strategically perfect, because this entertaining movie provides dads, who grew up reading comic books, an opportunity to spend quality time with their young sons and daughters ranging in age from 8-18. You need to keep your seat until the very end so that you don’t miss a post-credits bonus scene setting up a potential sequel.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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