Green Lantern – DVD Review

You can call me Hal


Release date: 17 October 2011
2011 |12 | 114 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£24.99 (Triple Play Blu-ray)/£29.99 (3D Blu-ray)
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong

For a hero born of the space race, it’s ironic that Green Lantern finally makes the big time just as NASA retreats from the stars. But imperfect timing is the least of this wannabe blockbuster’s problems.

In the comics, Hal Jordan was an icon of JFK’s New Frontier, a stratosphere-scraping test pilot in the buzz-cut Mercury 7 mould. In the 21st century flesh he’s the altogether more boyish Ryan Reynolds, prone to exclaiming “Wow!” and “This is so cool!” as he’s transformed into a planet-hopping cop whose mystical ring bestows the power to create objects from pure will (there’s a quietly daft touch of Looney Tunes about this superpower, as it summons everything from glowing green dragsters to giant springs – what, no ACME anvil?).

It’s not a film without ambition, and there’s an undeniable buzz in seeing the more pulp SF side of the DC universe brought to the screen with admirable fidelity. But it doesn’t know how to deal with its decades of accrued cosmic mythology. The opening voiceover brains you with the mother of all info-dumps – yes, kids, billions of years ago the universe was divided into 3600 vectors, do keep up – and somehow the movie never quite reconciles its sprawling interstellar canvas with the Earthbound, everyday world of Hal and his uninspiring girlfriend.

Martin Campbell must have seemed a smart, surefire choice as helmer – his muscular but sweeping Casino Royale gave a spectacular shot of adrenalin to the Bond brand, after all. But his strengths lie in the sweat-and-blood zone. He flounders here, exiled to a smooth, frictionless universe of digital eye-candy. The FX-loaded finale is particularly weak, pitting Reynolds against an amorphous octo-cloud, like a man in a bareknuckle brawl with a gas leak. If only the fabled emerald ring had conjured a killer screenplay to save the day.

Extras:


The one-disc DVD (rated), just has previews of DC’s new animated series and the New 52 comic book relaunch. The Blu-ray features an extended cut (123 minutes), deleted scenes and Maximum Movie mode shenanigans. A choppy, unfocused documentary on the comic book roots of the character parades some top-flight creatives but fudges the crucial story of Green Lantern’s creation (not even a mention of his original Golden Age incarnation), while a fistful of behind-the-scenes docos, tellingly, foreground FX secrets at the expense of any discussion about storytelling choices.

Nick Setchfield