By Susan JAMES
Like all good summer popcorn movies, director Martin Campbell’s take on comic book classic “Green Lantern,” starring Ryan Reynolds, arrives on-screen with a bang and ends with a sequel.
The first film since “Avatar” to use 3-D technology to its full potential, the story streaks across galaxies, loops solar systems and deletes villains in candy-colored explosions of light. A quick voiceover introduction with sensational 3-D graphics maps the mythology of the Green Lanterns, heroes of every species, coming together to defend the 3600 sectors of space. Their quantum abilities have kept bad guys at bay for generations. But that’s all about to change.
Uber warrior for the Lantern team, Abin Sur (played by New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison) is fatally wounded in a battle with arch-villain Parallax, an octopus-tentacled entity reminiscent of Harry Potter’s evil Dementors who feed on fear and grow ever stronger. Parallax has an appetite for the terrified inhabitants of entire worlds and only the Green Lanterns have the weapon that can stop him. The Lanterns wearing their rings of power pride themselves on being fearless and the Guardians, a council of immortals who oversee them, allow their leader Sinestro (played by Mark Strong) to lead a posse of Lanterns against Parallax, who defeats them.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the dying Abin Sur has crash landed and sent the source of his power, his Green Lantern ring, to seek out a successor for his sector. The ring chooses (where have I heard this before?) a talented but screwed up test pilot named Hal Jordan, played with boyish good humor but little edge by Reynolds.
From here, the story follows a well-trodden path. Fascinated at first by his new gifts and then terrified of the duties and responsibilities they represent, Jordan rejects and then finally accepts his destiny.
Eccentric superheroes chosen by random circumstances for specific destinies to save the city/planet/universe generally have a parent who met a violent death, a conflicted girlfriend and a stalwart BFF. Jordan doesn’t disappoint. His father, also a test pilot, died in an horrific accident in front of young Hal’s eyes. His generic girlfriend Carol Ferris is played by a bland Blake Lively, who brings little illuminating or individual character to the part. Chemistry between the two is noticeably MIA. Making a larger impression in a smaller role is Taika Waititi playing Jordan’s BFF Thomas Kalmaku with wide-eyed enthusiasm.
When Abin Sur’s body is snatched by sinister government agents (aren’t they always?), Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) the nerdy son of a powerful senator is tapped to do the autopsy. In the process, he becomes infected with the Yellow Impurity, the same power that fuels Parallax. Mutating into a monster, Hector kidnaps Carol and threatens to inject her with the Impurity and make her evolve with him. The moment for Hal Jordan, a.k.a. Green Lantern, has come.
Summoning all his courage, he defeats Hector, rescues Carol and lines up for a mano-y-mano with the planet devouring Parallax. Can Green Lantern save the universe? Does Superman wear a blue suit?
Meanwhile, back on Planet Oa, home base of the Lanterns and Watchtower of the Guardians, Sinestro has made a tragic error by convincing the council to create another ring, one that will harness fear and use it as a weapon. A ring using the Yellow Impurity to fight fire with fire against Parallax. If the Green Lanterns garner their power from the Green of willpower, and the Yellow runs on the Yellow Element, powered by fear, the Lanterns have little chance at stopping this ring. As he puts it on his finger, his lovely green glow turns a sinister yellow. As his name indicates, evil is just around the corner.
I see sequels.
See you at the movies!