Green Lantern is an unknown quantity to most of us, without years of pop-culture osmosis and numerous previous big screen versions to get us familiar with the Guardians of the Universe or the Planet Oa and the Green Lantern Corps.
Ryan Reynolds is the most recognisable element of DC’s latest blockbuster and the question you need to ask yourselves as the Blu-ray sits on the shelf opposite you is ‘What sets this superhero movie apart from the countless others?’.
Reynolds is Hal Jordan, a seemingly reckless test pilot who is recruited by an intergalactic protection force just as their most dangerous enemy has escaped. Jordan accepts the Green Lantern Corps ring and is flung through space to the planet of Oa, the home of the Corps to train and become one of the universe’s peace keepers. As he begins to understand his responsibility and powers he is overawed and, facing doubts from other members of the Corps, returns to Earth to face another, far more familiar, enemy.
It’s a basic plot, and each character fits nicely into their assigned point in the narrative. Reynolds has a lot of fun with the role as does Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond as Jordan’s friend who lets his jealous (and an alien force) go to his head. For a superhero story that is virtually limitless in its scope this is a decidedly earthbound tale, necessitated perhaps by the anchoring nature of an origin story but director Martin Campbell moves us quickly through the narrative without every letting us enjoy the world we’re in. There is nothing in the way of surprises here, and while it’s a fairly competent and good-looking blockbuster it’s a shallow first look at a world which promised a lot more.
The Blu-ray boasts an extended edition which appears to consist of the entire opening scene involving the young Hal Jordan witnessing his father’s plane crash pasted on to the beginning of the film. It’s a slow start to the film, and looks very odd when the flashbacks to the scene are bizarrely kept in the extended edition and appear twice in relatively quick succession.
There is a rich universe to explore here, one that is not given its due in this film as it becomes a collection of narrative short cuts and superhero clichés stitched together with some CGI. The heart of the problem is a lazy script (a choice example is Kilowog who has never seen a human but refers to an introductory training session as ‘Ring-Slinging 101′), but it doesn’t weigh the story down, just add an air of disregard which is a shame. Mark Strong is, naturally, excellent as Sinestro and it’s hopeful that if a sequel rears its head then he’ll play a larger role.
I have no problem with an unoriginal premise – this is an origin story and they must all take on the elements of responsibility and maturation to varying degrees, where Green Lantern falls short is be teasing us with a thin surface of a far richer world and lurching from plot point to plot point in a mad rush to introduce the world before the sequel (already being developed despite the generally unfavourable reception of this film) tells the more interesting story.
There’s some great CGI with the Parallax attack on the city and the attacks generated with the all important ring being highlights, though Oa suffers from the same lack of majesty that Asgard suffered from, and Reynolds is a fun Hal Jordan and it never takes itself to seriously. There’s a certain chemistry between Reynolds, Lively and Sarsgaard it’s hard to care when everything is played out with a strangely uneven tone and a lack of spark and wit which brought Thor and Iron Man to the big screen with such success.
There’s a solid line-up of extras on the disc, with some excellent behind the scenes, pre-CG, footage as well as the (necesary for most) accompanying material which sets out the vast background and history to the character and this world. In truth watching all of this material throws the finished film into sharp relief and I came away feeling that more could have been done to make this an exceptional comic book movie, something which the sequel will hopefully fulfill should it be made. It’s well put together and as a package the Green Lantern experience feels more complete with these extras and your appreciation for the world may increase, as may your frustration that Martin Campbell’s film aimed high but unfortunately missed its target.
• MMM: Green Lantern’s Light (Focus Pods and PiP)
- Focus Pods:
The Art of Green Lantern
Weapons Hot: The U.C.A.V. Dog Fight
Reinventing the Superhero Costume
Ring Slinging 101
We Are the Corps
Acting Under 10 Pounds of Silicone
When Parallax Attacks
• The Universe According to Green Lantern
• Ryan Reynolds Becomes The Green Lantern
• Deleted Scenes
• Justice League #1 Digital Comic
• Preview of Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Green Lantern is out on Blu-ray and DVD today.