Green Lantern

Green Lantern on Blu-ray

Well, there's two hours of our lives we'll never get back.

We didn't know what to expect going into this latest entry in the DC Comics universe. This is the company that also brought us such classic DC superheroes as Batman and Superman. The Blu-ray comes from the studio that brought us those heroes as well, with spotty results over the decades.

But we hoped for the best.

We haven't read any comics for decades, but way back when we were DC fans, with limited exposure to the competing Marvel universe. So we followed the adventures of the Man of Steel and Caped Crusader reasonably faithfully, as well as (less faithfully) DC stable mates like The Flash, The Atom, Aquaman, etc.

We're up to date with both the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader's cinematic forays and, despite only about half of them being any good, were disposed to take a look at Green Lantern – which we remember reading in our youth but don't remember very much at all about it.

As it turns out, either we remembered nothing about Green Lantern or the movie makers threw the Green Lantern legend right out the window. And as it turns out, there isn't much here anyway other than a ponderous and pretentious ordeal.

Even worse, we made the mistake of watching the extended version!

Green Lantern may be a human hero, but he's part of an alien police force. Now, aliens are nothing new to the DC pantheon, of course. Superman is an alien, supposed last survivor of an advanced planet (advanced, apparently, except for its government, which fiddled while the planet exploded). The aliens in Green Lantern, however, are a kind of Jedi knight order bent on fighting evil wherever it appears in the universe.

What does this have to do with Earth? Well, you see there's our hero Hal Jordan, a hotshot but cocky and irresponsible test pilot son of a hotshot test pilot who died before his young eyes in the explosive crash of an experimental plane. Played surprisingly likeably by Ryan Reynolds, Jordan's recruited into the Green Lantern Corps (which of course he'd never heard of) thanks to a seemingly magical green ring that chooses him for the task.

It's a well-timed recruitment, for the Green Lantern Gang at least: Jordan picks up his lantern and ring – which lets him create cool-looking green matter merely by thinking of it – just when a horrible alien life form named Parallax has broken out of jail, is wiping out planets and has its eyes on the Corps. Parallax feeds on fear (via some nifty special effects), and it appears the only way it can be fought is by a Green Lantern that is truly fearless.

Meanwhile, Parallax has also possessed a human scientist played by Peter Sarsgaard, and he's doing his utmost to unleash all kinds of havoc as well.

Or something like that. And it seems to change as it unfolds. Or does it?

It's hard to tell. Maybe our attention spans are too short or our combined IQ's too low, but four of us struggled through this movie, waiting impatiently for the closing credits to start so we'd know who to blame. Chiefly, it must be directed at director Martin Campbell, from whom we expected more, and writers Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg.

The movie looks and sounds pretty neat, however, though it's hardly reference quality. That's not really the fault of Warners' 1080/24p transfer, which is for the most part very sharp, clean and rich. It's more the look of the film, which is very dark and "artsy," with a very red and saturated look to it when things aren't all green.

The audio soundtrack, which features the DTS-HD Master Audio treatment, is so loud we had to turn down our home theater about five notches from its usual "movie default" setting (which some think is already excessively loud). Beyond the ultra-dynamics, it's a very engaging sound track, with rear speakers engaged nearly for the whole ordeal, very deep bass, and clear dialogue.

For a nice audio/video treat, watch the dogfight near the beginning of the film. It's fake, but it's very cool.

Warner Home Video offers the movie in several ways; we got the combo pack that offers Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy. It included the regular and the extended cut. It also included a code you can use to download a game add-on for "Batman: Arkham City" as well as a "Sinestro Corps" Batman skin.    

Extras include "Maximum Movie Mode," Green Lantern's Light (only with the theatrical version). Here, DC's Geoff Johns, who wrote the Green Lantern series, brings you behind the scenes stuff, including looks at how the effects were done, development of the story, etc..

There are also some deleted scenes (if you haven't already had enough!), before the special effects were finished, which is kind of interesting. There's also a "digital comic" that's really just a shill for the new Justice League comic-book series. You also get a preview of a new animated series of Green Lantern.

Eight "Focus Points" offer another "making of" look, while "The Universe According to Green Lantern" looks at the history of the comic books, including bits with artists, writers and fans.

"Ryan Reynolds Becomes the Green Lantern" is self-explanatory.

Green Lantern isn't as bad as the Green Hornet movie was, but it's still very disappointing. It has some neat concepts and great production values, but it just doesn't give you enough logical story to get your teeth into.

Green Lantern, from Warner Home Entertainment
114/123 min. 1080/24p (2.4:1), DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins
Written by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Mark Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg, directed by Martin Campbell.

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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