The satisfying summer movie-going experience may be ruined this year with Warner Brothers’ release of Green Lantern.
The movie, based on the D.C. comic of the same name, stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan-—a bad boy, womanizing pilot whose father’s death in a plane crash both haunts him and provokes a serious identity crisis. However, Jordan’s comparatively trivial problems must soon take the backseat when a dying Green Lantern named Abin Sur chooses him to be the next protector of the earth.
The origin of the Green Lanterns is largely left unexplained. The barebones backstory is just enough to catch a layman up to speed, and seems to open the door for future prequels (re: X-Men: First Class): there is one Green Lantern for every sector of the universe, and their power comes from the harnessed energy of willpower. At issue in the film is a monster who feeds on fear and is intent on annihilating whole planets, of which the task of saving falls to the Green Lanterns.
The undercooked plot is also extremely slow to develop. The film’s first hour establishes Jordan as a lover more so than a fighter; we get a bland love interest in Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) and a spurned rival in Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), plus some stock relationship conflicts over Jordan’s immaturity and hardheadedness (fighter pilot stereotypes abound). Add a dysfunctional family, a shiny piece of empowering jewelry and a Green Lantern leader that initially abhors Jordan but comes to respect him, and one starts to wonder if the script hasn’t been recycled from previous movies.
The time passes so quickly that director Martin Campbell is forced to squeeze the mostly foreseeable superhero finale into a small, though epic, window. The ending leaves much to be desired, and the movie’s heavy reliance on CGI effects blurs the line between comic book adaptation and futuristic fanfare without creating anything visually stimulating. Even more bizarre, despite the proliferation of computer graphics, the film’s aliens bear an odd resemblance to those from films of past decades.
This isn’t the first time clichés wrapped in CGI have been passed off as summer blockbusters, and it won’t be the last. But don’t expect much more than that from Green Lantern.