Green Lantern

Killer characters and a marvelous cast can't make up for a convulted plot in DC's latest offering

You can sort of see (villain) Hector Hammond’s point in Green Lantern, the latest superhero movie adaptation to hit cinema screens. He attained his powers from the same place (crash-landed alien, Abin Sur) as (hero) Hal ‘Green Lantern’ Jordan. But while Jordan gets a skin-tight suit, the ability to make hard-light constructs with his mind and a gang of space-pals… Hammond gets a big fat head and asthma. No-one is going to take that well.

Green Lantern is the origin story of DC’s favorite ring-slinger, so we meet Jordan when he is still an ex-Air Force test pilot and ladies man. This isn’t a Peter Parker, nerd makes good story. Jordan already has the muscles and testoserone long before he gets the ring. He’s also just got fired, but, luckily, a new job is about to drop into his lap. Or, to be exact, fly onto his finger.

Abin Sur, a member of the extraterrestrial Green Lantern Corps, has crashed on earth after being mortally injured by a mysterious entity that uses ‘the yellow power’. Before he dies, Abin Sur passes on his ring and membership in the elite Green Lantern Corp to Jordan.

Unfortunately, Jordan isn’t the only one who encounters the dead alien. The government take Abin Sur’s corpse back to a secret lab, where he is dissected by xeno-biologist, Hector Hammond. Unfortunately for all concerned, traces of yellow power have been left in Abin Sur’s body – and it’s infectious.

So while Jordan is whisked off to Oa to learn how to fly and be inducted into the Corps, Hammond is slowly devoured from within by a parasitic piece of the entity’s power. Worst of all, the entity tracks Hammond to destroy Abin Sur’s ring and devour every living soul on the planet.

Green Lantern is a hard movie to review. It isn’t bad, but it could easily have been so much better. I watch half the movie squeaking with unspeakable nerdcitement – Bzzt! Killowog! Oh my god, is that AMANDA WALLER? – and the rest waiting impatiently for the boring bits to be over.

Just because the protagonist can fly/swing/teleport, doesn’t mean we need another scene of him hanging off a rooftop talking to his love interest. Actually, for the benefit of pace, Green Lantern could do with a little less love-interest, actually.

This is a movie about a man being inducted into an intergalactic police force. There should be space drama, multiple set-piece battles and the conflict between institutional and individual morality. Not five minute flashbacks about Jordan’s dead dad and a visit to meet his family – who never turn up in the movie again.

By gluing multiple storylines and characters together in an unwieldy bundle, director Martin Campbell has only made things more complicated than they should be. Lose half the characters and stick with either the street-level threat of the psionic stalker or the planet eating entity and this could have been a great film.

Ryan Reynolds as Jordan makes a very believable Green Lantern, caught between doubt in his newfound abilities and the sheer joy of them. The moment when he sees a dying alien, and instantly goes running to help, is the moment he becomes a hero.

Sinestro is also marvelously cast, with English actor Mark Strong managing to imbue the pink-skinned, Dracula-browed alien with dignity, strength and pathos. The tragedy of Sinestro is always that he wants to do his best. Even knowing his ultimate fate, I sigh in disappointment when he meets it.

Then there is Angela Bassett’s brief appearance as Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller. With luck, we will be seeing her again soon. Unfortunately, however, the characters - great thought they are - aren’t enough to carry the movie all on their own, particularly not with the top-heavy plot weighing them down.

Still, Green Lantern is a fun movie and well worth going to see – if only for Killowog calling Jordan ‘poozer’ for the first time. It's just I wanted to love it, and I didn't.

Green Lantern shows at Movie House Cinemas from Friday, June 17.