Ooooh … shiny

Green Lantern looks good, but so what?

Ward of the ring.

Ward of the ring.

Green Lantern
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard. Directed by Martin Campbell. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

Oh, boy. Another comic-book movie. It’s been what, two whole weeks since the last one? This one is a DC title, though, which might explain why the theater reeked faintly of mothballs. When you think of the DC line, you’ve got Batman and Superman, and then there’s a big drop-off as people start listing Marvel Comics characters. But after the legitimization of Batman (the less said about Superman the better), ol’ DC still wants another franchise to bank on, so here they go giving Green Lantern a try.

The film starts off pretty colorfully, with things flying through space—all while our narrator intones some back story about an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern. They patrol the cosmos in skintight costumes and kick ass—when they’re not looking like they wandered out of the cantina in Star Wars. The effects are nothing spectacular, but the 3-D makes them sort of interesting (the dudes behind me kept going “Whoa” for about five minutes, until the CGI stuff ended and they got bored with the novelty—like everyone else).

Then one of the space cops gets on the losing end of a skirmish with a giant floating head (that trails smoky tentacles) and plunges to Earth. With dying advice about great responsibly and all that, he passes on his secret decoder ring to hotshot top gun Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), along with a magic lantern. Then Jordan meets up with a couple more space cops and they school him in the Green Lantern way and send him off to save Earth from the giant floating head. By himself. Apparently, the Green Lantern has some pretty strict jurisdiction policies. Meanwhile, there’s a love interest (played by the inappropriately named Blake Lively) and Peter Sarsgaard as a brilliant nerd gone very, very bad.

As a superhero movie it handles itself adequately. Reynolds has the perfectly cut body and the attitude for the job, although he slips back into Van Wilder on occasion. Lively is easy on the eyes and isn’t too painful to watch impersonate a marionette. Sarsgaard is wasted in the role of the side villain, but seems to be having fun (or maybe he’s mentally calculating his chances with Lively at the wrap party).

Unfortunately, the script seems to have been passed through the hands of several writers (four, it turns out) and never really seems to focus on anything at all between action set pieces. It’s not all that complicated, yet everyone feels a need to explain things a li’l bit more than they need to be explained. Jordan mopes about for half the movie whining about responsibility. All sorts of disposable characters pop up to distract him from the pursuit of his story, then disappear, points unresolved. It’s never really clear what the whole issue is with Sarsgaard’s character.

But aside from that, the action generally delivers. At least it gave me something shiny to look at while thinking about other things—like whether Sarsgaard scored at the wrap party.