“Green Lantern” Review

          When I first started seeing promotional footage for the new “Green Lantern” movie, I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited.  It seemed a little hokey, and as insolently charming as Ryan Reynolds is, he just didn’t strike me as a good fit for the super hero mold.  But as later trailers were revealed, it actually started to look cool.  At first they focused on the corny humor and the fancy special effects without highlighting any of the more human aspects of the film.  But more recently, they began to hint at the epic and perhaps overly ambitious scale that the movie would eventually take.

          The premise of the film is somewhat complicated, but is set up simply enough for us: Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is a reckless and cocky playboy of a pilot who gets fired after a ridiculous stunt that costs the air force an expensive fighter jet and almost his life.  That night, he discovers Abin Sur, a dying alien and member of the Green Lantern Corps who hands over his power ring to Hal, entrusting him with protecting the galaxy.  Apparently, somewhere out in the cosmos, an ancient race of immortals found and harnessed the green power of Willpower.  They forged a bunch of rings and sent them throughout the galaxy to a few thousand individuals who fit the bill.  Anything these super-soldiers might imagine could be put into reality using only their Will.  Laser blasts, swords, guns, and giant fists are just the tip of the green iceberg.  Fortunately, they managed to keep some of the more imaginative products out of the trailers.

          The movie makes a big deal about Lanterns having to be without Fear, because everyone knows that Fear is the yellow kryptonite of Green Will.  A bit confusing, right?  Yes, but not more confusing than Will and Fear somewhat randomly being assigned the colors of Green and Yellow to begin with, but we shouldn’t worry about that.  What we should be worrying about is Parallax, the monstrous embodiment of Fear itself that killed Abin Sur and is threatening Earth.  Not only does Hal have to deal with his lady problems and figure out his place in the universe (in more than one sense of the phrase) but he also has to find a way to save his world from this enormous threat while trying to master his newfound powers.  Also thrown into the mix is a side-villain, a pathetic Dr. Hector Hammond, an acquaintance of Hal’s who gets infected by Parallax and becomes the reason the monster makes his pit-stop at Earth to devour everyone’s souls.

          Perhaps the biggest problem with the film is its overly ambitious scope.  Simply put: too much is going on.  Spider-Man only had New York City and one villain to tend to when Toby Maguire helped reboot that franchise a almost ten years ago.  Hal Jordan has to contend with powers that he can barely understand, a few thousand partners bossing him around and picking on him just cause he’s new, a slew of personal problems and relationships, one rather standard villain, and one overwhelmingly evil galactic entity threatening his entire home planet.  Not to mention the fact that he’s supposedly responsible for his whole sector of the galaxy, not just Earth.

          All of this just cannot be done justice the one hour and forty-five minutes allotted to the events.  Certain segments deserved more time and others less.  While the pacing and such could have used more work, Ryan Reynolds really delivers as Hal.  He’s arrogant and charming and only subtly reveals a softer side that is plagued with fear and doubt.  The movie becomes less about the first human Green Lantern fighting Parallax and more about a human being trying to discover his potential and conquer his fears, making the character more relatable and saving the movie from plummeting.  After a lifetime of being so afraid of failure that he ran away from any and all responsibility, Hal is chosen to step up and protect his home and everything he loves.  It’s a story we’ve all heard before, but it’s also a story that we like…a lot.  And Reynolds is able to convince us that the film is more than just flashy green lights and his incredible chemistry with the gorgeous Blake Lively.

          Overall, “Green Lantern” is an entertaining film with great animation and – dare I say it – color.  It’s fun but it won’t move you or inspire you.  The film’s timing doesn’t really help either, putting it in a summer full of other really great superhero blockbusters.  Die hard Lantern fans might frown at this flick, but if you’re a mild-mannered fan of superhero movies, Ryan Reynolds, or anything involving aliens or the end of the world, then I urge you to give this movie a chance.

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