Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking the Fight to Fear: Green Lantern Movie Trailer

I'm a little bit baffled by the rush to condemn this, the latest entrant in the superhero movie sweepstakes. Sure, the dialogue and acting are pretty much serviceable, if forgettable (except for Blake Lively as Carol Ferris and Peter Sarsgaard as the horribly disfigured Hector Hammond).

But director Martin Campbell (whose "Casino Royale" breathed new life into an otherwise moribund James Bond franchise), moves things along at a very engaging pace and while I'm no champion for efx-driven vehicles, it has to be said, the effects here are pretty damn good, especially the opening sequence.

For comic book laggards, the Green Lantern is based on the DC Comics title (now owned, I believe, by Disney, so its unlikely that Warner Bros will be behind the inevitable sequel) created by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. Hal Jordan, a "flyboy" test piloty along the lines of Tom Cruise in Top Gun (but taller, of course) is mysteriously chosen to join an elite group of intergalactic "peacekeepers. Their powers come from a light source fed by willpower (it'sa comic, lighten up) and their great enemy - in this case anyway - is Parallax, a former intergalactic councilman who went over to the dark side and now feeds on fear.

Parallax, recently escaped from solitary confinement in a God-forsaken corner of the Universe, is now hungry for revenge, not only on the Green Lantern who initially subdued him, but simply, against everybody.  The ring seeks out Hla, who of course, has issues of commitment and living up to responsibility (he watched his dad, also a test pilot, die horribly, but then, you could figure that out, couldn't you?).

Now summoned, Hal has to reckon with his new powers, with the overbearing air of Green Lantern commander Sinestro (Mark Strong, the villain from "Sherlock Holmes") with the affections of Carol and with the increasing psychopathic weirdness of Hector. All comes to a head as Parallax, smelling a heaping helping of fear, gets set to suck up humankind into his hydra-like body.

After X-Men:First Class, with its Cold War setting and its "embrace different" earnestness, and ahead of the rah-rah jingoism of the upcoming Captain America, Green Lantern is a light but not frothy, refreshing little snack of a movie - the kind I used to enjoy as part of a Saturday afternoon triple-bill. Though there's no discernible chemistry between them (probably toned down to get a PG-13 rating), Reynolds is just the right mix of cocky and noble and Lively, whose shown considerable versatility over the last couple years, simply burns up the screen, even though there's no sex scene and barely a kiss exchanged between them.

Green lantern then, is the superhero movie for those who claim not to like superhero movies. Notwithstanding my own position, I'd say forget the negative criticism and give it a shot.

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