Review in a Hurry: Not so super. Ryan Reynolds bulks up and suits up to play the popular DC Comics character, a top gun turned superhero. For all the talk of conquering fear and harnessing energy, Lantern ironically plays it safe and gets grounded by a leaden, spiritless adaptation.
WATCH NOW! The best of the Green Lantern premiere
The Bigger Picture: Green might be the color of willpower, per the Lantern lore, but it’s also the color of money. Warner Bros. has invested gobs in this potential cash-cow franchise, and though Lantern glitters like gold, with an attractive cast and razzle-dazzle effects, it’s ultimately as cold and by-the-numbers as a profit calculator.
In the clichéd setup, pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is a reckless daredevil in the sky and a cocksure cad on the ground. During a test flight, he freezes up while flashing back to his dad’s death (expository much?) and risks being fired by childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), now an aerospace exec in tight pencil skirts.
Meanwhile, out in the Universe, an evil entity named Parallax (the film’s coolest effect) destroys a member of the Green Lantern Corps, the intergalactic squadron of peacekeepers. Surprisingly, Hal is chosen to replace the dead warrior, but can this reluctant recruit, even with a ring that grants him special powers, overcome his fears to defeat Parallax and save the Earth?
Reynolds and his usually reliable charisma can’t stand up to the rote script—with typical shrieking/morphing and training sequences—and CGI wizardry, which becomes increasingly videogame-like. He and Lively strike few sparks together, and though Carol is a former pilot, she gets sidelined as the pretty woman-in-waiting. Also flirted with (but abandoned) are themes of corporate and political corruption—the film is more intent on bombastic spectacle.
The cast’s standout is Peter Sarsgaard, almost unrecognizable as bulbous-headed professor/scientist Hector Hammond. Infected by Parallax, Hector indulges his anger/daddy issues by trying to kill Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins in oily politician mode) with a helicopter crash. Sarsgaard’s quirky performance and that nifty set piece offer glimmers of excitement in an otherwise dim Lantern.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Always ebullient Angela Bassett makes a welcome appearance.
PHOTOS: Green Lantern Premiere: Red Carpet Roundup