In the genre of intergalactic world-at-stake superhero movies featuring purple aliens, talking fish and monsters that look like tangled wigs it is very hard to out-dumb the competition, but director Martin Campbell and star Ryan Reynolds give it an almighty crack in this mangled, scattershot adaptation of DC's The Green Lantern comic book series.
Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a Top Gun-esque hotshot test pilot grounded by his superiors for breaking protocol. He is selected by a mysterious Force-like intergalactic spiritual power to wear a gaudy green ring that grants him superhero powers hitherto unexperienced by mankind, as well as lifetime membership in a clique of funny looking intergalactic do-gooders called The Green Lantern Corps.
Jordan flies off to an outer galaxy training facility to learn how to harness his new abilities, but closer to home Earth is in trouble from evil forces emanating from a contaminated boofhead scientist and an eeevviillll corrosive cloud enemy who looks like a mud-baked elephantine-sized version of Krang from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Green Lantern's superpowers are odd, even by comic book standards. His primary gift is the ability to invent spur of the moment devices to counter-act bad situations; for example, if a helicopter is hurtling towards a panicked crowd, he will, instead of creating a pool of jelly for it to fall into, attach wheels to it so it turns into a super-speed race car then invent a track for it for run around and around on.
To say the duel storylines about the fate of the universe and the fate of the Earth never correlate cohesively is like predicting that a frog belching into a microphone would not make a rewarding Opera experience.
The Green Lantern is not so much directed as crisis-managed. Lawrence makes a bloody big mess of it, aware of the unbridled lunacy of his material but unable to tap into more than a whiff of its potential to entertain. If Howard Hawks's philosophy was to compartmentalize cinema, to make every scene a movie, Campbell's is to make every scene a plank in a bridge that goes nowhere.
On a purely visual level, it's odd to see a movie that looks so anachronistic, as if it were plucked from the bottom of a barrel of 90's SFX and washed over with a hyper colour filter and a bunch of pre-loaded Windows backgrounds. The Green Lantern is also another example of the worst of the worst of 3D: meek effects tacked on like a post-it notes and projection that is almost unbearably dim, as if the screen itself can't be bothered breathing life into the shambles plastered across it. And who could blame it?
The Green Lantern's Australian theatrical release date: August 11, 2011