GENRE: Superhero CGI demo reel
THE PITCH: In this adaptation of the DC Comics character, a dying alien's super-powered ring chooses cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) to join an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. Can Hal overcome his personal fears to defeat bulbous-headed psychic Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) or the destructive, fear-fueled cloud-alien Parallax?
LITE-BRITE, MAKIN' THINGS WITH LIGHT: The film's coolest moments involve the solid energy "constructs" Hal creates with his power ring: a giant fist that punches three thugs at once; protective stone walls; giant machine guns; a colossal race-track toy; and even a pool of water to safely catch a falling bystander. All green, of course.
LESS-THAN-SPECIAL EFFECTS: The Green Lantern Corps' founders, the Guardians of the Galaxy, look like ancient blue bobble-head figures. Parallax sports a really stupid noggin, like a Halloween version of Oz the Great and Terrible. Some of the alien crowd scenes evoke unwelcome memories of The Phantom Menace. On the other hand, Mark Strong looks and sounds great as Sinestro, the driven, pointy-eared, magenta Green Lantern.
BEST LINE: "Hal, I've known you all my life. I've seen you naked. You didn't think I would recognize you because I can't see your cheekbones?" says Hal's off-again/on-again girlfriend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), pointing out how his green domino mask fails to conceal his identity.
BODY COUNT: About 14 on camera, which primarily involve Parallax sucking out the yellow energy-bones of his victims. One unfortunate scientist catches a hypodermic needle in the eye. A couple of civilizations die off screen. Overall, it's too violent and scary for younger kids.
FLESH FACTOR: Reynolds appears in tighty whiteys twice, once in his bachelor pad, once on the planet Oa. All Green Lanterns have skintight, ring-generated suits that leave nothing to the imagination. When Hal's predecessor, Abin Sur, dies, his suit vanishes and he looks like a nude version of that old model, the Visible Man.
HAVING THE MOST FUN: Sarsgaard hams it up big time as asocial nerd turned freakish mutant Hector Hammond. His delivery sort of suggests Zach Galifianakis as a supervillain.
POP REFERENCES: When Hal tries to guess the Green Lantern oath, he includes such phrases as "To infinity and beyond" and "By the power of Greyskull." Carol's jet pilot code name, Sapphire, alludes to her comic book alter ego, the Star Sapphire. Angela Bassett plays government bigwig Amanda Waller, a long-established character here pitched as a potential Nick Fury/Samuel L. Jackson of the DC Universe.
BURNING QUESTION: Geoffrey Rush, as fish-headed Green Lantern trainer Tomar-Re, introduces the film with juxtaposition of how the Guardians divided up the universe into 3000 sectors. But one of the first scenes takes place on a planet in "The Lost Sector." How could they lose a whole sector so quickly?
AND ANOTHER THING: If the Green Lanterns use their rings to fly through space, why does Hal's predecessor Abin Sur have a ship? For once, we can't blame the screenwriters, as comic book readers have wrestled with the question for years.
CLOSING CREDITS EXTRA? About halfway through there's a little stinger that sets up a sequel, assuming anyone likes this movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Green Lantern literally sets up enough plot for two movies: a would-be funny, earthbound one with Sarsgaard, Lively, et al, plus a cosmic space opera with Strong and other aliens. Reynolds and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell fumble around amid the inconsistent effects and muddled plotting. This Lantern provides scant illumination.
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