Who's In It: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins
The Basics:Ryan Reynolds is a cocky Top Gun Jr. test pilot with a lot of teeth and a habit of walking away from commitment. That makes him the perfect choice to be the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic brotherhood of space police who battle evil wherever it lurks. In order to fit into the fold and launch a new Warner Bros./DC franchise, he has to go on a by-the-numbers hero's journey and fight a fear-fueled something called Parallax which looks like a huge floating monkey head surrounded by dreadlocks made of moon tar, smoke and space feces. Blake Lively plays a pilot/aeronautics executive who really just wants to be rescued by a superhero. Way to score there, team of comic book adaptation experts.
What's The Deal: I'm only speaking for myself here, but I want superhero movies to involve something more than setting up a marginally interesting premise so that there can be more sequels and snack food tie-ins. I want to feel like something real is at stake. Even if the threat is nothing more than a monster from space, I want that monster from space to be scary enough to create doubt in the hero's ability to fight it. I want the hero to be the right combination of old-school steel and new-school wit. I want female leads directed to give confident swagger instead of vacant stares. Special effects that weren't rush-jobbed to post-production houses that a) are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy from undercutting their price and b) don't provide health benefits to their employees. Maybe an ending that feels resolved instead of one that comes fully loaded with a post-credits bumper full of nefarious sequel bait. I'm rambling. This movie has none of that stuff.
Who's Not To Blame: Mark Strong and Blake Lively try hard. So does Ryan Reynolds, even though he seems sort of lost as to what kind of man he's supposed to be. The only person who really survives the movie is Peter Sarsgaard, living it up in Elephant Man makeup as the nerd-villain using the Parallax fear-goo to turn himself into a merchant of doom.
Best Part That Still Doesn't Push It Into "It Mostly Sucks But See It Anyway" Territory: And this counts as a spoiler so if you're opposed to that kind of thing then turn back now... seriously, quit reading... okay you obviously want to know--there's a spectacular and scary helicopter crash sequence that, if it were to happen in reality, would decimate everyone in the vicinity. But that's where Green Lantern comes in, saving the moment with a sincerely goofy Hot Wheels track composed of energy, one that turns the entire death-machine scenario into no-hands theme park ride.
No Man's Land: GL isn't a dark, overly damaged hero. He's not a mouthy, edgy hero. He's just a straight-up do-gooder. There has to be a way to salvage that type of guy with excitement and joy and make audiences cheer for him. Somebody has to be able to deliver that to a movie screen. Who's going to try next?