A film with a budget of 200 million and lots of gifted people at the helm, but does all this creative talent lead to a good movie? With Martin Campbell as director, best known for GoldenEye and Casino Royale, and Stuart Baird of Die Hard 2, and more recently Vantage Point, as editor, can anything still go wrong?
Perhaps the problem with Green Lantern is not so much with the people involved in its cinematic recreation, but rather: in the source material and the script based on it. While DC Comics is well known for creating both Superman and Batman, Green Lantern does not share a long history of animation series and feature films with those franchises and is therefore less known. This lack of adaptations seems understandable as its back story requires significantly more suspense of disbelief than Superman and Batman combined. An observation that holds true for this movie as well. The fact that a Green Lantern is limited in recreating physical items only by his own imagination is underused in the script. Although, the few times where it is used are admittedly very cool.
Green Lantern starts with a narrative which tells us a bit about the history of the Green Lantern Corps. This is a welcome addition, as the story would be difficult to follow without it. From this we transition to a nice and light part until the main character, Hal Jordan portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, becomes a Green Lantern. Near the middle the movie starts to drag and suffers from taking itself too seriously. The beautiful renderings of the Green Lantern home planet Oa and excellent use of 3D can not disguise a somewhat lacklustre plot. While the movie regains proper pacing after the break, the “this is too easy, what was all the fuzz about?” ending leaves much to be desired: it feels far too rushed.
It is surprising that the more interesting storyline is not about Hal Jordan at all. It’s Peter Sarsgaard that, apart from one cheesy scene, delivers an excellent performance as the son of a powerful senator. His character is an under-appreciated scientific geek: Hector Hammond, who turns into a vehicle for the main villain: the Parallax. The film explores the interesting theme of the fear and hate driven Hammond versus the willpower and courage of the Green Lantern. However, the Hal Jordan character is not carved out deep enough to make this conflict interesting.
The film makers do a nice job of letting elements early in the movie recur later at appropriate times. As such the movie is easy to follow and understand. Had the main character been more believable Green Lantern would have had a more positive critical reception. Perhaps Ryan Reynolds will be a better fit for the Marvel universe? We will find out when Deadpool (2014) appears.