Green Lantern: More Aptly Called the Brown Lantern….

When Kermit the Frog first uttered those immortal words, “It ain’t easy being green” he certainly wasn’t kidding, and Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness) knows this all too well.  

However, to provide a more thorough introduction to my initial reaction to the Green Lantern, I will use the following breakdown:

Reasons you may want to see this film:

  • A bizarre fetish for the color green (or to a lesser extent yellow)
  • The possibility of seeing Ryan Reynolds Naked (or even half-naked)
  • An insatiable hunger to waste time on unfulfilling activities
  • A lost bet

Reasons you will likely not want to see this film:

  •  An unreasonable expectation that films “have a point”
  • The need to see good acting
  • A phobia of déjà vu, where you fear reliving the same clichéd explanations you have seen in countless other films
  • A phobia of Ryan Reynolds wearing clothes (a true disappointment explored thoroughly in this film)

Premise: A test pilot named Hal Jordan is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with unlimited powers that he must use to destroy an ancient evil known as Parallax. Result: A messy, mishandled movie that combines impressive visuals with flimsy, clichéd storylines to create a must miss.

It is impossible to know what Director Martin Campbell was thinking the moment he found himself at the end of post-production.  Naturally, he was accustomed to making good films (his most recent works Casino Royale and Edge of Darkness where both very strong) and so the idea that he could be stricken with anything other than a disorienting terror at the sight of the finished piece boggles the mind.  Sadly, the story of what Campbell actually felt in those horribly disappointing moments when Green Lantern was “ready” for public consumption may never be told; worse still, that story would likely be more interesting than what audiences saw instead.

Green Lantern is the tale of Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) a messed up flyboy intent on flying planes and breaking rules. He has issues; we know this because of occasional clichéd conversations with his wide-eyed nephew and the longing, silent manner with which he regards a ubiquitous picture of his Dad. 

Jordan is not the only one harboring Daddy issues, however: Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is apparently a great disappointment to his father Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins) and this is flaunted continuously for no apparent reason. There is also the enchanting Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) with whom there is the requisite unspoken sexual tension, which is channeled, also expectedly, into nonstop outbursts regarding Jordan’s lack of focus and control.

Of course, all of this is of little relevance since the Universe is in grave danger.  It seems that a great evil, Parallax (Clancy Brown), has somehow escaped his prison (it is never really clear how, it just sort of happens suddenly) and is growing as a mortal threat to the Universe as his control of Fear is capable of dissolving entire worlds.  The only power that can stop him is the Corps of Lanterns, powerful, green, ring-wearing creatures from across the galaxy that have been given great strength by immortal beings to harness the power of Will. 

Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), the Lantern who originally imprisoned Parallax, is mortally wounded in another altercation with the horror and falls to Earth in time to help the ring find a new master.  The ring chooses a member of this youthful planet, the impetuous Hal Jordan. Jordan is taken to the home base world of the Lanterns where he will learn to control his new power to help defeat this new enemy. The supposed leader of the Lanterns (at least it appears that way) is Sinestro (Mark Strong) an otherworldly being who simply cannot believe that Jordan will amount to anything.

At the same time, Hammond is accidentally exposed Parallax via an autopsy of Abin Sur, (despite being a science teacher at a local school in a preposterous moment of anti-nepotism) and begins to mutate as the substance changes him into a vile henchman of the monstrous immortal.  He grows a head larger than a Tea Party Republican with all the mean-spirit that the role requires, now capable of telepathy and other powers that the “yellow” Fear brings.  Parallax, for its part seems unstoppable, churning through space rapidly as it soon engulfs Earth and its inhabitants in a horrific manner so unique it was basically cut-and-pasted directly from the Final Fantasy video game.

Nothing really goes right for the film before or after this point.  It should be noted that the initial visual success of this movie should manage to mollify the audience’s most visceral responses to the disaster everywhere else on screen; it is not long, however, before observers will awaken from this hypnosis to realize that even these stunning scenes are really just brighter amalgams of countless images we have seen before. The resolution is sudden and forgettable almost the instant it takes place, giving the sense that everyone in the film gave up and thought they’d drown their miseries at the local Applebee’s.

Unfortunately, Campbell makes a boring movie that could have been interesting.  Worst still, he allows and perhaps induces performances from relatively strong artists that fall flat at best and are painful and laughable at worst.  Reynolds takes a full step back in this movie after a leap forward in Buried (read full Buried review); Blake Lively appears bored with her own performance to such an extent that audiences will long for the days of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Of course, nothing could be worse than what was done to Sarsgaard, transformed into a pathetic mess on screen without even the semblance of an intriguing back story; a talent like his was completely mishandled in this catastrophe, downgraded from nuanced performer to sideshow attraction.  I won’t even get into Tim Robbins who at best looks like a shadow of Norville Barnes in The Hudsucker Proxy with none of the likeability.

Green Lantern is clearly disappointing; of this there can be little doubt.  It does not smack of an awful film on first glance only because it is more irrelevant than bad; there is really nothing notable about it other than its distinct inability to interest anyone. If only there was a color to represent that accomplishment.

Rating: 4 – A case of PBR and a “Dear John” letter

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