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Blu-ray Review: Green Lantern

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With the popularity of comic book films being at an all-time high, it’s no wonder Hollywood is testing the waters and seeing what sticks with the masses. Green Lantern, one of DC’s fan-favorites right next to Batman and Superman, got the green light for such a theatrical treatment. Directed by Martin Campbell, Hal Jordan and his alien company hit theaters in Summer 2011. They didn’t hit with a bang, however, instead there was a resounding “thud.”

To say that Green Lantern wasn’t well-received by the masses would be an understatement. Now that the film has hit Blu-ray a merely four months later, will it find a second wind and a new audience?

Green Lantern had plenty of potential. The comic spans the universe and is epic by most standards. Hal Jordan is a complex and interesting character who brings the human condition to a galactic fight via the Lantern Corps. Ultimately the plot grounds Hal (portrayed here by Ryan Reynolds), muddles things up with a love interest, and pops off an anti-climactic battle against a big CGI monster. Sure some of the trappings are cool, and yeah it’s great to see versions of Corps members such as Sinestro and Kilowog, but the flat narrative and misdirection of the plot make it one boring action-packed outing.

The film starts out with a young Hal Jordan watching his father fly an experimental aircraft. One thing leads to another and his dad dies in an explosion after an accident. Fast-forward to Hal as a young man and he’s a pilot for the same company his father worked for, and is reckless to say the least. Fast speeds, dangerous maneuvers, and a new woman every night. He’s basically Tony Stark without the charming personality and finances. In all honesty Hal is portrayed, and played by Reynolds, as a very one-dimensional character. The tragedy surrounding his father defines him and pushes him to the edge, but he’s more of a dick than a likable character you can root for. Thus it’s perplexing that Green Lantern Corps member Abin Sur’s ring chooses Hal to be his beneficiary.

Hal is thrust into the green spotlight and charged with being a protector of the universe. He’s supposed to be fearless, courageous, and unselfish, but Hal is none of those things. The plot attempts to piece together some development for the character as he “overcomes” each of these aspects, but it’s handled suddenly, unevenly, and far too easily. He essentially becomes the man he needs to be to protect a girl he likes, but it’s emotionally unrewarding and droll.

Thrown into the mix are an intergalactic monster named Parallax who threatens the existence of all life in the universe. On top of that there’s Hal’s own development as a Lantern and head-butting with the pink-skinned Sinestro and inevitable confrontation with his childhood friend-turned-alien-stooge, Hector (Peter Sarsgaard). It’s a glorious mess that is too erratic for its own good. Oa, the home planet of the Green Lanterns and their immortal founders, is threatened by Parallax, but instead of heading there he makes a pit stop on Earth to teach Hal a lesson and destroy all living things on the planet. Predictable, anti-climactic, and boring.

The problems with Green Lantern are nearly too plentiful to list. Reynolds dishes out a lackluster performance as Hal, and the supporting cast is equally as dry. The shift in focus between Earth and Oa leaves viewers caught in the middle; the villain isn’t nearly as developed as they should be; and the whole thing just feels like one giant ego trip — and you’re caught along in the ensuing mess. There’s some potential in the world that was created here, and design aspects are faithful to the comic; however, those facts and the mostly decent action aren’t nearly enough to overcome the shortfalls that lie herein.

Green Lantern is presented on Blu-ray as a combo pack with a DVD and Ultraviolet streaming digital copy. The film sports a full 1080p transfer with a 2.4:1 aspect ratio and AVC-encoding. One thing to note about Green Lantern right off the bat is the fact that it’s a very dark film. I don’t mean content-wise, but rather contrast and lighting. Perhaps this was an artistic choice to highlight the bold greens and yellows the film employs? Either way it winds up leaving most scenes nondescript and wallowing in an unattractive inky mess. Even when the lights are on details are scarce, and the film just doesn’t have as sharp a presence on the screen as it should.

The audio thankfully fairs much better. The DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 track packs a wallop in every way that you’d want a superhero flick to. From the whoosh of Hal’s ring activating to green fisticuffs, bullets, and explosions, the film reacts like it should. Presence on the soundstage is solid and there’s plenty of rear channel use and life on the LFE.

For bonus features this release includes both the theatrical and extended edition cuts of the film (the extended edition runs nine minutes but doesn’t include anything groundbreaking). There’s also a preview of the Green Lantern animated series, a digital copy of the number one issue of Justice League, five deleted scenes, and a character skin for the PlayStation 3 version of Batman: Arkham City. Ryan Reynolds steps into the spotlight for a piece on becoming Green Lantern, DC staff members and fans talk about the comic book series, and there’s the always entertaining and enjoyable Maximum Movie Mode. This alternative mode features interviews, featurettes, trivia, and other supplemental content strewn about while watching the film.

Green Lantern is worth renting, but not much more than that. Nearly ever facet of this film flounders about in mediocrity and it simply doesn’t do justice to the comic book franchise. If a sequel is released, let’s hope there are some lessons learned, but needless to say this one just doesn’t make the impact it was intended to.

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About Todd Douglass