For a film that is based on a super hero’s ability to make anything he thinks of materialize in green glowing splendor, THE GREEN LANTERN is a film that is unusually flat in execution and uninspired in conception. It’s also painfully disjointed, as though there were a much longer, even more disappointing flick from which the best bits were carved.
The eponymous super hero starts out as simple Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a test pilot known for his reckless daring, irresistible charm, and inability to hew to the authority even of a timetable. Naturally, when the Green Lantern ring, which crash lands on Earth with its owner, goes in search of a new owner to replace the one on the verge of death, it chooses Hal. What follows is an insurmountably convoluted mish-mash of plots and sub-plots involving daddy issues, immortal guardians, Hal’s discovery of the ring’s implications, and a super villain that lives on fear. That the super villain resembles nothing so much as a giant tentacled dust-bunny with teeth does nothing to make it strike fear in the hearts of the audience, even when said audience has been told that it is unconquerable. Then again all super villains are.
And here we come to one of the many problems at work here. Reynolds has indisputable star power and charisma that shines even more brightly than his emerald green superhero costume. Alas, the writing he and everyone else must contend with is catastrophic. Sure, he imbues Hal with the quick wit and comic timing needed to enjoy sharing his new-found powers with engineering geek and best friend, Thomas (Taika Waititi), sure he is more than up for making romantic sparks fly between Hal and ex-girlfriend and fellow test-pilot, Carol (Blake Lively), but the speeches, rank with piffle, which he and the others are forced to mouth are stultifying. Even Mark Strong, in fetching red face-paint and Vulcan ears, can’t make the hackneyed and overblown lines sound any better than they are, despite effortlessly wearing an imperious sense of authority as the lead Lantern who disapproves of Hal’s induction to the corps despite the ring’s putative inability to make a mistake.
Back on Earth, Peter Sarsgaard also works hard to make something of Hector, the geek biologist about to discover what is and isn’t true about his cherished conspiracy theories. He gets the underlying creepiness of an angry nerd suddenly finding a way to vent his pent-up anger, and the good work he does is used up before his storyline is, even before he turns into a variation on the Elephant Man. As for Tim Robbins as his senator father, he seems to be sleepwalking, as though instinctively knowing theres no point.
And there isn’t. There are two modes: great gobbets of exposition and great gobbets of action sequences, neither of which are effective. The exposition drones on without accomplishing its goal of pulling everything together smoothly. The action sequences while competent, dont have the fire of an engaged imagination. Great opportunities are chopped to bits with the hapless audience expected to fill things in, not with a sense of discovery, but rather with disappointment that a theme or an idea or the film as a whole is suddenly plopped into its collective lap, flopping about like a half-dead turbot.