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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Green Lantern




Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern was an undeniable failure both financially (domestic box office of $116 million on a $200 million production budget) and critically (27% approval on Rotten Tomatoes). But go elsewhere if you’re looking for another reviewer to pile on. I won’t—I can’t. The film is too much fun.

It’s a mess, mind you. When your villain is a screaming yellow cloud of fear, you’re already down 0-2 in the count. But the film’s hokiness is oddly charming, and Ryan Reynolds is a much more appealing hero than I realized on first watch.

For those of you who are still uninitiated, Green Lanterns are Jedi-like warriors dedicated to keeping peace in the galaxy. They use rings fueled by willpower, and the planet Oa is where they call home. The Green Lantern Corps’ greatest enemy—an entity known as Parallax—has just escaped from a Lantern-controlled prison and quickly begins amassing power. He also attacks the Lantern who vanquished him years ago, Abin Sur, who escapes the ambush and crash lands on the nearest planet—Earth.

Unfortunately, Abin Sur was fatally wounded by the Parallax. His ring seeks out a nearby creature worthy of the Corps. Enter Hal Jordan (Reynolds)—a hot shot fighter pilot defined by his fearlessness. Jordan is transported to Oa where a small group of Lanterns help introduce him to his new powers. It becomes clear quickly, though, that Earth is in grave danger from another threat. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is a scientist brought in to examine the body of Abin Sur. He’s consumed with the yellow power of fear, however, and the more powerful Parallax becomes, the more he’s drawn to Hammond, his human surrogate.

Frankly, I don’t know what the hell was going on with Hammond, and I don’t think the film’s four screenwriters know either. It was my biggest complaint with the film the first time around, and it remains my biggest complaint. Yet, the subplot’s sloppiness and Sarsgaard’s ridiculous performance are both part of this film’s grand sense of campy fun.

That campiness is evident all throughout Green Lantern, but it peaks during the first third—the film’s most engaging and entertaining segment. The director’s cut on Blu-Ray contains more scenes of Hal Jordan’s childhood, which are stock superhero origin stuff, but again, so earnest that its familiarity and heavy-handedness are forgivable. We’re also treated to Jordan’s introduction to Oa and the rest of the Corps, both of which lack the character of the comics but are interesting and visually impressive. I do wish Parallax wasn’t as much of a stupid yellow octopus blob, but alas…

I won’t call Ryan Reynolds’ performance good, per se. He’s a charismatic guy on and off the screen, and a character like Hal Jordan (at least the way he’s written here) is an ideal vehicle for Reynolds’ energy. He talks fast and is always moving. As a saint tasked with saving the universe, he’s not believable. But as a dork who’s wrestling with the whole “great power, great responsibility” thing, he succeeds. My first take of Green Lantern was quite harsh toward Reynolds, but I can admit when I’m wrong; He does good work here.

The Blu-Ray is a better-than-average package with plentiful special features, but not many that provide real insight into the production. I would have loved to hear more about the creation of Oa, rather than why Reynolds was the perfect choice to play Hal Jordan. There is a great 20-minute featurette detailing the history of the comics. It’s super informative and quite fascinating. It’s a shame the film was received so poorly. After learning more about the series’ history, I’d love to see what a sequel would bring.

I’m sure many of you never even bothered with Green Lantern because the reviews and word-of-mouth were so poor. I feel a little guilty for being one of those reviewers, actually. Now there are parts of the film that are inexplicably bad (Blake Lively, who I haven’t mentioned yet, falls squarely in that category), but on the whole, it’s a harmless bit of superhero fun.

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