Ryan Reynolds is a natural born superhero: athletic, dashing, honest and armed with a cheesy grin thanks to his Hollywood dentist. It's no wonder he's been cast as three superheroes in the last two years. He was Captain Excellent, an imaginary superhero in Paper Man, Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (with plans to have his own Deadpool spin-off in 2014) and now the Green Lantern in the DC Comics movie of the same title. Either he's scared to commit, or he's in huge demand... but what about the movie?
You'd think studios would have a problem with Reynolds taking on three possible superhero franchises simultaneously... just imagine the chaos if Robert Downey Jr. decided to moonlight as Superman, but guess what, that cheesy grin and breakthrough performances in films like Buried say otherwise... making it easy for Reynolds to be the Green Lantern and whoever else he wants for that matter.
The DC Comics superhero has finally got his movie after a spate of more popular superhero movies over the last decade or two. Comic books thrived in a time when World War had left a generation of disillusioned youth, who didn't want to read propaganda novels or Biggles. Today, film technology has enabled the film industry to capitalize on the trend once again in an age of global terrorism... giving them an excuse to turn every Clark, Peter or Hal into a big screen superhero.
Green Lantern features a host of unsung hero actors. Tim Robbins, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard and Blake Lively support Ryan Reynolds in a good team effort. Robbins is spot-on as a devious senator and father figure. Mark Strong carries the devilish Sinestro well, with a post credit nod to a sequel. Peter Sarsgaard is perfectly detestable as an Elephant Man ugly telepath and Blake Lively is a gorgeous counterbalance as the leading lady, Carol Ferris.
While one of the less popular superhero characters in DC Comics, Green Lantern has got serious big screen potential. The Green Lantern film has been directed by Martin Campbell, whose credits include: Casino Royale, The Legend of Zorro and more recently Mel Gibson's acting comeback, Edge of Darkness. Campbell is no stranger to action and dives head first into Green Lantern, creating an expansive alien universe for Green Lantern. The film has parallels with Thor, Iron Man and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
The crossing-over of worlds is something that Kenneth Branagh got right when directing that hammer of the gods guy. Thor's switching between the realm of fantasy and suspended reality worked... thanks to a softening up of mythology, good CGI and a good proportion of Earth time. This is something Green Lantern struggles with a bit. While we believe a Green Lantern domain exists, there's not enough of a bridge between environments... besides the irony of green screen backdrops in both worlds.
This reliance on CGI is something that was also a strength and weakness for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While Reynolds and Jackman are equally likable as superhero characters, the nature of both films required a serious outlay of CGI. Wolverine stretched the limits, going from outright spectacular to some fairly ordinary shots. The same good and bad can be said for Green Lantern. It captures the unimaginable, but suffers from over-extending capturing some epic Akira moments and some green jelly moments too.
The script isn't another Dark Knight, this one's more in-line with the tongue-in-cheek fun in Iron Man, Thor and even The Mask. Reynolds is the right man for the job when it comes to the comedy, yet he seems restrained. Instead of belting the lines out, he's trying to find some sort of balance between his comedy and dramatic roles. The result is understated, somewhat cheesy - but a bit too diluted, never certain whether they're after action and laughs, or action and drama.
Green Lantern also has a rather "unHollywood" feel, which could be attributed to its British director or perhaps a tendency towards anime titles like Akira. It's good different, telling a conventional superhero story in a fairly unconventional way. This "unHollywood" take is supported by some choppy editing, in which scenes seem to end quite abruptly as if Green Lantern was initially a much broader project cut down for better pacing.
Overall, it's a slightly uneven yet somewhat satisfying watch. The special effects are extraordinary, all the more commendable for being so frequent. Some of the life has been sapped from all the green screen effects and the performances are good - but could have been better. While the script isn't perfect, it's reasonable within the superhero context. Green Lantern isn't on par with peers Iron Man 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Thor, but punches in just above Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Spider-Man 3 and the first Hulk.
The bottom line: Okay.