I don’t like movies based on comic book super-heroes but I do like men in green tights. So I allowed myself to be talked into seeing Green Lantern. Contrary to the majority of other film critics who panned the film, I found it enjoyable.
Ryan Reynolds, while certainly not as hunky as Thor’s Chris Hemsworth (my new boy crush), he can certainly hold his own against Transformers‘ stiff Shia LaBouef. (No one’s trying to match Robert Downey Jr.’s brilliant turn in Iron Man.) Lantern‘s femme co-lead, a dark-haired Blake Lively, is certainly more intelligent than the Victoria’s Secret model in Transformers and as feisty as Natalie Portman in Thor. The special effects, while not as spectacular as Transformers, were certainly wondrous. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the alien planet and the people who inhabit it, are so majestic that it called to mind the greatest of all superhero movies, the first two mythical Superman outings.
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a hot-shot corporate test pilot who is haunted by his famous father’s death in a fiery crash landing. He’s been in a notorious a bad-boy phase for way too long, irresponsible and feckless in all aspects of his life, except flying, in which he holds no peer. In a fantastic opening sequence, he’s been hired to fly a jet to show how effective the corporation’s new attacking drones are, but he gets so hyped up that he proves he can outmaneuver the drones. His bosses aren’t happy that he just singlehandedly lost them a huge contract, meaning many employees will be out of a job. And he certainly didn’t impress the boss’s daughter, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), his long-time lady love for whom he just can’t act like a grownup.
Meanwhile, on a planet far, far away, great trouble is brewing and The Immortals, who rule the planet are at a loss how to save it. It seems one of their own has betrayed them and turned himself into a cosmic, swirling serpenty mass of evil. Sworn to save their planet and fight the ugly thing is a corps of warriors, named the Green Lanterns. dressed in luminous green outfits and given all kinds of powers. It sounds silly and it is, but director Martin Campbell, who learned a thing or two about how to improve silly things in his previous films, such as Casino Royale and The Legend of Zorro, gives a compelling gravitas to this back story. . The influence of Marlon Brando as Jor-El isn’t keen. Other than a wise old crone who is one of The Immortals, there don’t seem to be any other women on this planet, which no doubt, is part of its problem.
Late the night after Hal put himself out of a job, he sees an alien craft crashing on a deserted beach. He tries to save the dying purple-skinned pilot, who turns out to be a legendary hero on the other planet. Before he dies, the alien gives Hal a mysterious green ring. Whether he likes it or not, Hal becomes a Green Lantern. He meets all kinds of other Green Lantern guys on the other planet, including the planet’s new leader, Sinestro (Mark Strong) who, with a name like that, we know is going to do some dastardly thing eventually.
Daddy issues seem to be a major subplot in the movie. Hal’s goy them with his dead pilot father, Carol’s got them with her dad being her boss, and then we meet their grown-up childhood pal Peter Hammond (Peter Skarsgaard.) He’s a quiet, inoffensive guy who just wants to do this thing and stay out of the way of his father, the charming and powerful Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins, doing a great Bill Clinton routine.) Peter injects himself with some fluid from the remains of the alien pilot and wowee–don’t ask how–he starts imitating the Ugly Thing and probably has to spend four hours each day in the make-up chair to pull it off. No wonder he gets very cranky.
Peter’s new found tyranny sets in motion all kinds of special effects battles, on Earth and elsewhere, with more plot twists than I could remember in a lifetime. Knowing what’s going on isn’t necessary anyway. You can just sit back and go mindless and you’ll get your money’s worth in this film. Do see it on the big screen to give the effects their due.