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Thursday, June 23, 2011 05:29 am

Lantern proves it’s not easy being green

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Like all superhero origin movies, Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern has its share of growing pains. It can be a narrative burden to have to dispense with the requisite introduction of an ordinary person who lacks direction but whose life is about to be turned upside down when a traumatic event bestows them with great power.

In this case, the subject in question is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a man-child with an ego the size of the jets he flies for Ferris Industries. Unreliable, arrogant and oh-so-charming, his life is a shambles and gets more complicated when he’s given a mystical ring from an alien who’s crash-landed on Earth and is then whisked away to the distant planet of Oa. There he’s told the ring only chooses someone worthy of assuming the mantle of the Green Lantern, who’s basically a space cop that’s assigned a galactic sector to oversee.

The film threatens to take off here as we meet other Lanterns -- his mentor Tomar Re (Geoffrey Rush), his instructor Kilowag (Michael Clarke Duncan) and the snobby Sinestro (Mark Strong). Too bad his stay on Oa is far too short and the screenplay has him headed back to Earth to contend with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) his ex-love, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) a scientist infected with alien consciousness, and Parallax, the very embodiment of fear who’s escaped from a far-distant planet and is threatening to consume the planet.

Not only does it take far too long before we see Jordan in full hero mode, but the film never slows down enough to focus on any one of its four storylines. The result is a movie that stumbles and lurches, failing to engage us as we jump from one sketchy conflict to the next. The lack of time spent on Oa is the film’s biggest blunder. The Green Lantern universe has a rich history replete with a roster of fascinating characters. While I didn’t expect a full rundown the first time out, too little time is spent seeing Jordan trying to prove himself to his new alien allies.

The special effects range from passable to embarrassing, with the constructs from Jordan’s ring being fine while Oa itself is rich and quite stunning at times. Then there’s the matter of Parallax, who comes off looking like an ever-growing, very dirty, mophead. Groans of disappointment will be heard at his every appearance.

In the end, Green Lantern is, regrettably, a botched opportunity. An inevitable sequel is set up and here’s hoping this film will be looked at as the Star Trek: The Motion Picture of this series and Hal Jordan will have more worthy screen adventures in his future.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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