2011 is shaping up to be the Summer of the Superhero with most of the heroic types emanating from the Marvel stable of comic books. We’ve already had 'Thor' and 'X-Men', while 'Captain America', and old reliables such as 'Conan' are soon to hove into view. This week, however, it’s time for DC Comics to fight back. Although the heavy hitters on DC’s books are 'Superman', 'Batman' and 'Wonder Woman', much is expected of 'Green Lantern'. For one thing, DC needs a hit after last summer’s fairly disastrous showing of 'Jonah Hex' (budget: $50 million; gross: $10 million). Thus 'Green Lantern' gets an upfront budget of an estimated $175,000,000, a heavyweight director with a Bond pedigree, and a cast with mass appeal.
For another, 'Green Lantern' is ideal franchise material since a number of people can hold the power-giving ring (in the comics, apparently six different characters have worn the fabled ring since the character first appeared in 1940). When it came to the movie version, various actors from Jack Black to Justin Timberlake were linked with the lead role before Ryan Reynolds (a man who previously took the Marvel shilling for 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine') eventually got the nod.
Watch a report from the 'Green Lantern' world premiere in Windows.
The movie opens with a long sequence outlining the origins of the Green Lantern Corps as Guardians of the Universe. It also involves the planet Oa, a dying alien named Abin Sur and a baddie called Parallax. Or something. It’s certainly very convoluted, even for a guy used to listening to Rush albums of the 1970s. The bottom line, though, is that Earth is in peril and the only man who can save the day is cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) who fits the criteria of being "utterly honest and born without fear". Initially reluctant to accept the responsibility, Reynolds soon gets into superhero mode with gal pal Blake Lively and fellow lantern Mark Strong in his corner, while baddie scientist Peter Sarsgaard hopes to undermine him at every turn.
The problem with a movie such as 'Green Lantern' is that it has to appeal to both fan boys and general audiences alike, and that’s no easy task. The fan boys at Comic Con, for example, wanted Nathan Fillion (who provides the voice for the upcoming 'Green Lantern' animated feature) for the lead role, and they are also apt to find fault with any deviation from the original premise. We’ll leave that to the message boards.
For this non fan boy, 'Green Lantern' is a fairly underwhelming experience. First there’s the 3D glasses (don’t get me started). Secondly, there’s a problem with the tone of the movie which veers between postmodern ironic (à la 'Iron Man') and portentous. Perhaps that’s what happens when you have four credited screenwriters. Thirdly, even though it’s an origins tale, we could do with some more thrills and spills to propel the story along, particularly when most of the supporting characters are so thinly drawn.
On the positive side, Ryan Reynolds is an inspired choice for the lead role, and not just because his presence will attract a legion of female fans (only Taylor Lautner removes his shirt more times on screen). Reynolds is a convincing action man who also has that cheeky chappy going for him. Whether 'Green Lantern' turns out to be a Batman-sized success or a 'Jonah Hex'-sized disappointment, Reynolds has proven he has what it takes to be the next action hero.