As a character the Green Lantern doesn’t have as large of a fan base as the big names like Batman, Superman, and Spider-man. Heck, a lot of people who don’t proudly call themselves nerdy aren’t even aware of him. Luckily for the more obscure superheroes, the film swell for the genre is bringing more attention to the lesser known. Too bad first impressions are everything in this business.
Similar to what feels like at least a fourth of films today, Green Lantern opens in space, presenting just how large of a world this version of the universe is, with an ample mythology in tow. Think on the scale of Star Wars or Mass Effect, if not larger. Long story short, we are not alone and Earth is far from the only inhabited planet in the galaxy, unbeknownst to humanity. What better than a world devouring evildoer to fill the population in on this little fact? Good thing there is a group of intergalactic crime-fighters created long ago to counterbalance this evil. Known as the Green Lantern Corps, these protectors use the harnessed power of will to create anything that their mind can envision.
As far as origin stories go Green Lantern takes its informative responsibility very seriously seeing as a large percentage of the film plays out like a crash course. Most likely for the benefit of those not wearing a green lantern shirt to the theater, what is meant to be helpful actually ends up being quite detrimental, especially to the man for which the film is based.
In the beginning of the movie a dying member of the corps crashes his ship into the Earth in order to pass his power and responsibility onto another being. Hal Jordan is lucky enough to be picked, and before long we are learning everything along with him. Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to the supersuit (see Paper Man), and this time around he gets to let the personality that was dampened by his muted version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine shine. That’s the good news. The really good news is that he looks amazing. The bad news is that there is not enough of him, and a great opportunity to explore his backstory, refreshingly less stereotypical superhero / love interest relationship with Blake Lively, and just what he is now capable of is completely lost among everything that is crammed into the runtime.
To further explain the powers that we don’t get enough of, all members of the corps wear rings that harness will for the wearer to use, and with this ring they can create anything they can imagine. Anything. However, as Hal Jordan’s part of the story continues to shrink so do the possibilities of exploring this creative freedom. This is not to say anything against the actors stealing the spotlight from our main man in green. Mark Strong has never been one to disappoint and he doesn’t deviate from this here as another corps member with an interesting path of his own, and Peter Sarsgaard goes through quite the arc from a weak scientist to a creepy man to be feared. But let’s face it; we want to see the Green Lantern in action! We get to see a little of his childish personality in a few of his creations, as well as the expected arsenal of guns floating around the male mind, but unfortunately we are left wanting more.
Much of Green Lantern fails to live up to the potential that this character and power presents, thanks in large part to the time spent building the world, as well as the familiarity to so many sources that have come before, from the already mentioned Star Wars and Mass Effect worlds, to films like Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Heck, even Aladdin gets a shout out. With that said I still left the theater entertained by the pretty imagery (even if there were a few issues with blurriness and dual images every now and again in the 3D) and brief action scenes, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for these characters now that the origin story is out of the way. That is of course if Green Lantern earns a sequel.
Final Grade: B-