Review: Green Lantern

(M) **

Director: Martin Campbell.

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Taika Waititi, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins.

WHILE Marvel has been wheeling out their A-list superheroes in the lead-up to The Avengers, rival comics house DC has struggled to keep up.

DC's one-two punch has always been Batman and Superman (the latter of which is being rebooted for a third time) and the company has struggled in recent years to kick-off filmic versions of any of their other notable Justice League members, including The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

Finally they have brought Green Lantern to the big screen in the hopes of sparking a franchise to support Christopher Nolan's revival of the Dark Knight. A second Lantern film is already in the works, although this seems to have been greenlit out of pure determination, rather than because this one is awesome. Because it's not.

Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a fearless test pilot who is selected to become a member of the intergalactic peacekeeping force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

Armed with an emerald ring that turns his thoughts into reality, Jordan must learn to harness his willpower and save Earth and the Green Lantern homeworld of Oa from the evil Parallax, a force that feeds on fear as it destroys planets.

If you think that's a lot to take in, that ain't the half of it, and Green Lantern struggles under the weight of its hefty backstory.

Setting up a fantasy world that blends with our own should not be an encumbrance - movies have been doing it since cinema began - and in the realm of superheroes, Thor did it quite successfully recently, finding an intelligent way to introduce his home dimension of Asgard and our Earth.

Green Lantern is far less successful, bludgeoning the audience with explanatory narration that seems to go on and on, leading into a messy first act before showing us pretty much everything again when Jordan learns about his new destiny, lessening the impact and minimising the 'wow' factor that should come from the Lantern's origin story.

Equally unwieldly is the introduction of a love interest (Lively) and attempts to juxtapose Jordan's transition to hero with the downfall of supervillain Hector Hammond (well played by Sarsgaard), all if which just stem the movie's flow.

When Green Lantern does get its green groove on, its quite enjoyable and Reynolds has charm and charisma to burn as the man-child who must learn great responsibility. Jordan and Hammond going head-to-head is a highlight, as are the CG-rendered world of Oa and the alien ranks of the Green Lantern Corps.

But the film is left sadly lacking due to the way it fumbles its set-up, forcing the narrative to play catch-up and detracting from the power this story's fear-vs-will theme should have delivered.

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