Nonstop review: ‘Green Lantern’

By Myong Choi
Special to Nonstop

Although I’m an admitted fan boy (see my review for “X-Men: First Class”), I was always more of a Marvel Comics guy than a DC guy, so characters not named Batman and Superman from the DC universe were unfamiliar to me. Sure, I knew of them, but I didn’t really know them. Green Lantern falls into that category. The only thing I knew about this character was that he wore a ring that enabled him to project his thoughts into tactile objects.

So it was with virtually a clean slate that I watched “Green Lantern” and I found myself actually interested in the history of the Green Lantern Corps. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Green Lanterns are chosen to protect their sectors of the universe, with their powers generated by will (represented by the color green). When an evil entity named Parallax emerges, feeding on fear (represented by the color yellow), it’s up to the Green Lanterns to put a stop to him. However, when one of the Lanterns is wounded while fighting Parallax, he flees to Earth to find a suitable successor. His ring chooses hotshot pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), and it’s now up to him to learn the powers of the ring and protect his planet.

The film’s premise is interesting, but as with many big budget blockbusters, the execution falls short. Once the action scenes began, I enjoyed the use of the ring’s powers, but wished they could have been displayed more prominently. With a power that basically has no limits or rules, there definitely was a lack of creativity in displaying its capabilities.

Director Martin Campbell may also have been a bit out of his element with such a big-budget, special effects film. His resume includes two James Bond films (“Goldeneye” and “Casino Royale”) as well as the very solid “Legend of Zorro,” so he’s proven he can direct big-budget action. However, a film such as this one, so heavily dependent on CGI and anchored in an alien realm, requires a more imaginative eye than I think he has. There were special effect scenes that were too familiar, producing a “been there, done that” feel, and there was no sense of threat from the villain whatsoever. Campbell also directed some scenes in a cheesy, cheap horror film manner, making me wonder whether the choice was deliberate. I kept thinking he was unsuccessfully trying to emulate “Spiderman” director Sam Raimi, whose roots are in horror.

As for the performances, Reynolds was fine as a cocky pilot with Daddy issues, although it was too much like Maverick in “Top Gun.” You could feel his earnestness trying to make the material work. Peter Sarsgaard as scientist Hector Hammond was too over-the-top after being infected by Parallax, and I just wanted him to stop screaming all the time. Blake Lively does a decent job as Hal’s love interest, although she doesn’t yet have the chops to bring depth to the role like Natalie Portman (“Thor”) and Gwyneth Paltrow (“Iron Man”) did with similar characters.

So while “Green Lantern” is not a terrible film, it’s not memorable either. It’s just another example of lightweight summer fare. An extra scene after the credits hints toward a sequel, but the public will ultimately decide if this story deserves a second chapter.