114 minutes

Ah, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer – so much to answer for when it comes down to super-hero movies. By setting up their comic-book super-hero adaptations in a recognisable reality and grounding them in human emotions and frailties, these directors set a standard not all super-hero movies can – or should – measure up to. This big-screen version of DC Comics' second-tier character, reconfigured here as daredevil test pilot Hal Jordan (a game, engaging Ryan Reynolds), unexpectedly recruited into an intergalactic police force as a fearsome evil power known as the Parallax menaces the universe, suffers from trying too hard to be grounded and realistic when it really should stick to adolescent fantasy.

     No matter how hard the veteran crew under director Martin Campbell and surprisingly blue-chip cast try, it's all simply too slight and unconvincing to engage the viewer beyond the disposable eye candy on view for two hours. The bounty of character actors summoned to provide support (including Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, and, voicing two CGI-animated aliens, Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan) suggests either the paycheck was too good to be resisted or they saw something in the project that got lost along the way. That was probably the cookie-cutter but always effective motif of sons having to face the long shadows of their fathers: mr. Reynolds' flyer is haunted by his dad's death in a test flight gone awry, mr. Sarsgaard's dweeb villain is aware his senator father (a suitably creepy Tim Robbins) thinks little of him.

     But that motif ends up taking a backseat to (and sitting very awkwardly along) the richly imagined but terminally shallow schoolboy sci-fi of the Green Lantern myth in a way mr. Campbell, a veteran known for his no-nonsense actioners (and responsible for rebooting the James Bond franchise not once but twice), probably salvaged as best he could. And, in fact, the film never overstays its welcome, moving along with a firm grasp of rhythm and tempo, showing both the director's and master cutter Stuart Baird's expert genre chops. It's fair to say the sequel a brief mid-credits sequence blatantly sets up is unlikely to materialize anytime soon, judging from the low rate of return Warners got on its expensive investment.

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, Jay O. Sanders, Jon Tenney, Taika Waititi; and Tim Robbins.
     Directed by Martin Campbell; produced by Donald de Line, Greg Berlanti; screenplay by mr. Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg, based on a story by mr. Berlanti, mr. Green and mr. Guggenheim; music by James Newton Howard; director of photography (colour by Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Dion Beebe; production designer, Grant Major; costume designer, Ngila Dickson; film editor, Stuart Baird; visual effects supervisors, Jim Berney, Kent Houston, Karen Goulekas.
     A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation of a De Line Pictures production. (US distributor and world sales, Warner Bros. Pictures.)
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, Columbia Tristar Warner screening room (Lisbon), August 11th 2011. 


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