DC Comics The Green Lantern “Darkest night, darkest hour…” was always going to be a tough sell to non comic book audiences. The hero derives his power from a ring and he needs to charge it from his nifty green lantern, really?
Hal Jordon (Ryan Reynolds) is the ultra cocky, handsome and improbable fighter jock, dog fighting sophisticated drone jet fighters as part of an advanced weapons program. Haunted by his test pilot fathers death, Jordan battles his own demons as to whether he feels fear, embraces it or continues to run through a series of empty but very beautiful liaisons.
Meanwhile in a galaxy far far away, on the planet “Oa” a corp of “Green Lantern’s” stand guard over the Universe, dividing it into sectors which they are entrusted to defend. Under the overall control of the guardians, think Yoda on very high poles, the Green Lantern corp stand watch. Protecting their charges from evil using the “will” of the people as a source for their power, defined by a very bright Green light. Evil in the form of Parallax, who was cast away into oblivion after dabbling in the even more powerful “fear” power source, is now awakened and is firmly in the yellow corner.
The unfortunate Hal is chosen by the ring following the crash landing of Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) after he is injured in a battle with Parallax. The ring never fails and always chooses correctly, which is seriously questioned when part of the underlying creed for the corps is responsibility, a character trait Hal does not readily demonstrate.
Aided by his friend Tom (Waititi) Hal shows off his new power, a nifty green suit and powers that appear only restrained by his own imagination, including flying and morphing any objects he wishes to realise. Beating up the local roughnecks at the local bar shows what he is capable of and then flys to “Oa” to receive more formal training at the hands of the local drill instructor, “Tomar Re” (Geoffrey Rush) a colossal green giant apparently made of rocks.
Sparking the interest of Green Lantern corps leader Sinestro (Mark Strong), he disappoints the group and returns to earth in a funk.
Meanwhile, senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) and his son Peter (Peter Saarsgard) are doing some dabbling themselves into the power provided by fear following the postmortem of “Sur”. Modern movies always have politicians as bad guys, there clearly is a message there somewhere.
Hal is called upon to defend the earth from the ever more powerful Parallax, drawn to the power that the Hammond’s have unearthed. Whether Hal triumphs over evil and peace is restored is not the point, this is a comic book adaptation after all but is it fun?
Following the critical mauling the film received, the end result is not so bad. Director Campbell has kept the whole enterprise moving along at speed, is it silly and preposterous, of course. There are moments to enjoy, the reveal to the beautiful Ferris (Lively) is unexpected and welcome. The decision to provide the suit via CGI does detract from the reality, which in a film of this type is desperately needed due to the fanciful nature of the story.
There are too many effects and on occasion the story is in danger of imploding into it’s own pretentiousness but it all just about skates by on the charm of the lead and his ability to mock himself. “By the power of Grey Skull” or “To Infinity and Beyond” are two of the oath’s attempted to get the ring to work.
The film is light and breezy, making no claims for a darker vision or Batman inner turmoil and torment. This harks back more to the original Superman’s where comic book characters were just that, unreal. The effects are good but there are too many of them, the supporting characters are adequate, there is no real identifiable villain to shout at but the leads acquit themselves well enough in what must have been an orgy of green screen work.
A decision was clearly made that this would be gossamer light, candyfloss fare for a family audience and on that level it just about hits the mark. If you are looking for deeper meanings or complex characters, there are better ways to spend your movie dollars.
Not as bad as feared, certainly not in the same league as other comic book adventures but perhaps not the train wreck some have suggested.
Mild, competent, implausible comic book fun with too much CGI and little requirement for a sequel, therefore expect number 2 to arrive at your local multiplex soon.