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movie review: Green Lantern

By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin June 17, 2011 at 4:30AM

It isn’t innovative, it isn’t deep, the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, but I still had a good time watching Green Lantern. It’s hard to dislike a movie that has shortcomings and still provides an enjoyable viewing experience. I even liked its use of 3-D, although those glasses are getting to be a pain.
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It isn’t innovative, it isn’t deep, the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, but I still had a good time watching Green Lantern. It’s hard to dislike a movie that has shortcomings and still provides an enjoyable viewing experience. I even liked its use of 3-D, although those glasses are getting to be a pain.

Like the recent Thor, this comic book adaptation (credited to four writers, with a fifth getting co-story billing) splits its time between a distant planet, which is home to a highly-advanced civilization, and earth, where cocky fighter pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) has enough problems without being selected to join the interstellar Green Lantern Corps. Reynolds’ lighthearted persona enables the movie to explore what it’s like for a normal, flawed human being to become a superhero overnight and face a level of responsibility he’s always ducked. His love interest is fellow pilot—and aviation executive—Carol Ferris, played by Blake Lively, and the two leads make—

—a highly attractive couple.

Peter Sarsgaard dives wholeheartedly into the role of a nerdy scientist who is chosen to examine the corpse of the alien that came to earth to find a new Green Lantern. His exposure to the transparent body has grave consequences, however, turning him into a gruesomely misshapen and vengeful monster.

(He’s still small potatoes compared to the humongous creature named Parallax, who threatens to overtake every planet in his path.)

The principal problem with Green Lantern is that it has a surfeit of characters and subplots and not enough time to deal with them properly. Angela Bassett gets costar billing but has little more than a cameo role as a government agent. (There’s a brief hint of her former life that teases more than it explains.) Even Sarsgaard’s character seems underwritten. It turns out that he’s the son of a powerful senator, played by Tim Robbins, and has always been in love with Lively and jealous of Reynolds—which we learn later than we should.

But despite those caveats, the film offers a dazzling array of visual effects, a likable hero, a beautiful leading lady, a colorful villain, and a good backstory. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously. Green Lantern entertained me, and I can’t dismiss that because of its imperfections.

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