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Video: Watch the 'Green Lantern' trailer

By
Hollywood Reporter
updated 6/16/2011 10:23:11 AM ET 2011-06-16T14:23:11
Review

At least for some members of the public, "Green Lantern" will prompt the question of how many more comics-based superheroes with awesome powers and responsibilities we really need?

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Dramatically tart in certain scenes but more often just spinning its wheels doing variations on similar moments from previous episodes in the lives of likewise endowed relatives in the DC and Marvel universes, Warner Bros.' attempt to launch a major new fantasy action hero franchise serves up all the requisite elements with enough self-deprecating humor to suggest it doesn't take itself too seriously.

But familiarity may begin to breed creeping signs of contempt, if not in immediate negative box office results then in an inevitable fatigue with such enterprises. The film opens Friday.

Story: Ryan Reynolds picks action figures over being sexy

Known to multiple generations of comic book fans through various incarnations that have sprung up since 1940, Green Lantern possesses powers that would be the envy of many another hero, including virtually infinite strength to unleash and ward off destruction, as well as the ability to propel himself quickly into the deep reaches of space and back. He's also accoutered in a uniform distinctly less cool than Batman's and less emblematic than Superman's, a skin-tight green affair with a matching mask that, here at least, he can remove simply by wishing it away when his girlfriend prefers to look him in the eyes without laughing. Simply put, it's an outfit you really can't get away with unless you're as good looking as Ryan Reynolds.

Not uncharacteristically, the future Green Lantern suffered a terrible tragedy in his youth; his beloved test pilot father went up in flames before his very eyes. Courting the same fate himself, little Hal Jordan also grew up to become a dauntless airman, a mad daredevil whose abiding policy with both plane crashes and with women is to be able to walk away from them. Twice burned in this regard has been Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), a fellow flier and aviation heiress who nonetheless has eyes only for the reckless cad.

THR: 5 things you didn't know about Blake Lively

But it's for his apparent lack of fear that Hal is chosen by the guardians of an ancient and very distant civilization to join the ultra-elite Green Lantern Corps., a group so exclusive that no human has ever before been invited into it. The script by the quartet of Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldberg is heavy on exposition, for the benefit of the uncomprehending Hal as well as for the audience, which cannot be expected to know much about this second-tier DC figure.

In fact, the backdrop is not uninteresting. The universe, according to this gospel, is made up of 3,600 sectors, with the oldest and most advanced is to be found on Oa, an intergalactic outpost where wrinkled, Yoda-like sages have long reigned over a select group of diverse aliens dedicated to boldly repulsing evil wherever it asserts itself.

Story: Physiques ab-solutely key to 'Lantern'

But when a renegade Corps leader decides to embrace fear and become the arch-villain Parallax (the boom-boxy voice of Clancy Brown), humanity is alerted by the arrival on Earth of emissary Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), a purple-skinned fellow who, before expiring, passes off his green ring and empowering lantern to the unsuspecting Hal. He's a reluctant hero, to be sure, who, after a rough training mission to Oa, is only convinced to take up the cause against the imminent Parallax by the immensely impressed Carol.

Not quite doing for an untested superhero what he did for James Bond in "Casino Royale," director Martin Campbell seems to most relish the amusing character of Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), a brilliant nerdy scientist enlisted by the government to examine Abin Sur's corpse. Thrilled by the privilege, he is unwittingly contaminated by the exposure and quickly transformed into a mind-reading Elephant Man lookalike with a zealous propensity for the dark side and a score to settle with his bigshot politician dad (Tim Robbins). Sarsgaard has great fun with the role in a performance that increasingly seems like a sly imitation of John Malkovich at his most arch.

THR: What critics say about 'Green Lantern'

But the real threat is Parallax, who eventually attacks Earth in the visually disarming form of a billowing, shape-changing, fire-breathing, octopus-like brown cloud. Faced with such an opponent, Hal packs away his misgivings once and for all to embrace his new powers and cleverly lure Parallax to the one place that might doom him.

To be sure, there is enough going on here to keep fans' 3D glasses glued to their heads: In Oa, there is a whole new planet to explore (even if parts of it disconcertingly resemble a darker version of the ugly set for "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"), the actors are mostly well cast and effective enough and the action comes on frequently, if not always convincingly; the hero's way of rescuing a large outdoor gathering from an out-of-control helicopter looks hokey and Carol's last-second saving the day in a climactic emergency is flat-out ridiculous.

Now more than ever resembling the circa 1965 Warren Beatty, Reynolds passes muster as a bad boy with greatness thrust upon him and future installments, should they follow, will not need to indulge his prolonged vacillations about accepting his new role in life. And speaking of sequels, an end credits insert plainly reveals which noble character becomes a villain in the next episode.

Copyright 2012 The Hollywood Reporter

Timeline: Evolution of the movie (and TV) superhero

From George Reeves' tights-wearing "Superman" to Chris Evans' hunky "Captain America," the size and build of cinematic heroes has changed over the years.

Photos: Ryan Reynolds

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  1. Twin bill

    Actor Ryan Reynolds poses with a wax figure of himself at Madame Tussauds in 2013. (Madame Tussauds) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Wide-eyed star

    Reynolds attends the "Turbo" premiere at the Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, on June 25, 2013. He provided the voice of the speedy snail. (Robert Marquardt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'Croods' bunch

    "The Croods" stars from left, Christine Keener, Emma Stone, Reynolds and Nicolas Cage attend the premiere of the film at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 in New York on March 10, 2013. (Neilson Barnard / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A 'Safe' bet

    Reynolds stars in "Safe House," an action-thriller with Denzel Washington in February 2012.

    Washington plays a dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he's remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Out of the 'House'

    Reynolds, center, joins Denzel Washington, left, and director Daniel Espinosa at a "Safe House" photocall at Villamagna Hotel in Madrid, Sapin, on Jan. 31, 2012. (Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A sporting duo

    Reynolds, left, and "Change-Up" co-star Jason Bateman present an award at the ESPY Awards in Los Angles on July 13, 2011. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Wanna trade?

    In "The Change-Up," Reynolds and Bateman play two men who envy each other's lives and end up swapping. Bateman is a married dad while Reynolds is a swinging bachelor, and each finds out the other's life isn't as simple as it looks. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Supporting the troops

    Reynolds greets fans outside a theater on the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego where his 2011 film, "Green Lantern," was being shown to the families of Marines. (Lenny Ignelzi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Going 'Green'

    Reynolds gets the superhero treatment in the 2011 action adventure film "Green Lantern." In the film, he plays Hal Jordan, a test pilot who receives special powers from a ring. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Strike a pose

    Reynolds arrives at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles on June 5, 2011. He was a presenter. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Award winner

    Ryan Reynolds accepts the Male Star of the Year award at the CinemaCon awards ceremony at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on March 31, 2011. CinemaCon is the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mr. Sexy

    Ryan Reynolds beat back the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jon Hamm to be named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive on Nov. 17, 2010. The 34-year-old actor finds himself in select company as he takes the title from 2009 winner Johnny Depp. Days earlier, Reynolds' ex wife, actress Scarlett Johansson, was named GQ magazine's "Babe of the Year." (People.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 'Buried'

    In 2010's "Buried," Reynolds plays an American truck driver whose convoy is ambushed. He finds himself buried alive with only a cell phone, knife, lighter and a few other things, and must try to save himself from suffocation. The film was praised for telling an intriguing story while limiting the audience's view to what's going on in the coffin. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Puttin' on the Ritz

    Reynolds made a dashing appearance in black tie at the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 7, 2010. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Cheers!

    Reynolds and fellow presenter Maggie Gyllenhaal toast the evening at the 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles on March 5, 2010. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Deadpool

    In the 2011 film "Deadpool," Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a highly-efficient mercenary with a secret superpowered identity. His weapon of choice is Japanese katana swords. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Time to talk

    Reynolds visits the "Late Show With David Letterman" at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater on June 17, 2009. (Ray Tamarra / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Will you marry me?

    Reynolds and Sandra Bullock teamed up in the 2009 romantic comedy "The Proposal" as a couple thrown together by her hunt for American citizenship. (Touchstone Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. On the red carpet

    "Proposal" stars Reynolds and Bullock arrive at the MTV Movie Awards on May 31, 2009, in Universal City, Calif. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. 'Adventureland'

    Reynolds plays an amusement-park repair technician in 2009's "Adventureland." His character claims to have played a gig with Lou Reed, but his co-workers are doubtful. (Miramax Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. 'Definitely, Maybe'

    In 2008's "Definitely, Maybe," Reynolds plays a dad who must tell his young daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) about his past. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Wedded bliss

    Reynolds wed actress Scarlett Johansson on Sept. 27, 2008, in British Columbia. The marriage ended in early 2011. (Rainer Jensen / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. 'Chaos Theory'

    In 2007's "Chaos Theory," Reynolds played a time-management expert whose life is thrown into chaos when hs gets off of his highly regulated schedule. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Race time

    Reynolds served as grand marshal at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 500 on June 7, 2009 in Long Pond, Penn. (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. 'Smokin' Aces'

    In 2007's "Smokin' Aces," Reynolds and Ray Liotta play FBI agents working a case involving a Las Vegas comedian. () Back to slideshow navigation
  26. May I take your order please?

    In 2005's "Waiting...", Reynolds, Justin Long and Anna Faris play young employees battling boredom at Shenanigan's, a generic chain restaurant. (Lions Gate Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Get out of the house!

    Reynolds played troubled homeowner George Lutz in the 2005 remake of 1979's "Amityville Horror," which documents the supposed paranormal happenings in a house where a man murdered his entire family. (MGM) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Support for Fox

    Reynolds embraces Michael J. Fox at the "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinsons" benefit for the Michael J. Fox Foundation on Nov. 5, 2008 in New York. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. 'Blade: Trinity'

    Reynolds plays Hannibal King, the head of a vampire hunting group, in 2004's "Blade: Trinity." (New Line Cinema) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. You oughta know

    Alanis Morissette and Reynolds attend the 2003 MTV Movie Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on May 31, 2003 in Los Angeles. The two announced their engagement in 2004, but broke up in 2007. Her album, "Flavors of Entanglement," was inspired by the breakup. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Ordering 'Pizza'

    Reynolds, Traylor Howard and Richard Ruccolo starred in "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place," a sitcom that ran on ABC from 1998 to 2001. (FX Networks via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. School days

    Reynolds, Kal Penn, "The Real World's" Teck Holmes, and Jason Winer star in 2002's "National Lampoon's Van Wilder." Reynolds plays the title role, a student who has no interest in graduating college even after seven years. (Artisan Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Magic powers

    Reynolds played the boyfriend of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" in the 1996 film based on the Archie Comics character. Melissa Joan Hart starred as Sabrina, and would go on to play her in the seven-season TV series. (Showtime via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Madame Tussauds
    Above: Slideshow (33) Ryan Reynolds
  2. Image: Matt Damon
    Columbia Pictures-Sony
    Slideshow (35) Hollywood’s shirtless studs
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    Slideshow (22) Summer blockbusters

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