Review: Green Lantern Blu-ray

Green Lantern Blu-ray STUDIO: Warner | DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell | CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins
RELEASE DATE: 10/14/2011 | PRICE: DVD $27.87,  Blu-ray/DVD combo $35.99, Blu-ray 3D $44.95
BONUSES: picture-in-picture commentary, eight featurettes, storyboards, more
SPECS: PG-13/NR | 114 min./123 min. | Action science-fiction | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Green Lantern is the weakest of the four big-budget comicbook superhero movies released in the summer of 2011.

Thor had an impressive feeling of grandeur (if a bit overcooked), Captain America had an unabashedly patriotic retro appeal and X-Men: First Class delivered an enjoyable dose of youth and energy. But Green Lantern, well, while it may fulfill its requirements as an origin movie and a possible kick-off to a franchise, it’s simply not fun or memorable or … alive.

Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds is Hal Jordan, the human who's chosen to become the Green Lantern.

Ryan Reynolds (Paper Man) plays Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot who is given a mystical green ring by a dying alien (Temuera Morrison, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) whose spaceship has crashed on Earth. He has chosen Jordan to be the newest and first human member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic legion of superheroic do-gooders who keep the universe safe from cosmic calamity wrought by evil aliens.

Jordan is soon whisked away to a distant planet, where he receives ”Green Lantern” training from a couple of veterans and meets an ominous member of the Corps named Sinestro (Mark Strong, The Way Back), before he subsequently quits and returns to his San Diego home. A little while later, Jordan decides to give his Green Lantern title (and outfit) another try following the arrival of an all-powerful alien force that has already destroyed a couple of planets and now has its sights on Earth.

Yes, there’s a lot happening here. And that’s the problem.

Green Lantern is overstuffed with characters, plot lines, action and exotic locales (including some wild-looking planets and spaceships), but the sprawl dissipates the intended effect and it just doesn’t draw you in. Helmer Martin Campbell’s (Casino Royale) direction is competent but not propulsive. The movie plays like a comic book — there’s a lot going on and even more to look at, but it’s still just flat, like the colorful panels on a comic page.

There are some notable secondary problems too: A less-charismatic-than-usual Reynolds doesn’t have much chemistry with his romantic interest, played by Blake Lively (The Town). Meanwhile, the other players aren’t developed strongly and come across more as two-dimensional plot-propellers than purposeful characters. That said, stepping out a tad from the reset are Strong’s Sinestro and Peter Sarsgaard (An Education) as a murderously nutty scientist.

The visual and audio quality of the movie on Blu-ray is fine, though the exotic color palette — lots of greens and yellows and twinkly silvers — doesn’t have the richly heightened appearance that I’ve come to associate with bigger-than-life superhero movies.

The cast, filmmakers and crew chiefs are enthusiastic and informative as seen and heard in the disc’s “Maximum Movie Mode,” a feature-length examination of the film that plays like a picture-in-picture function. It looks behind the scenes with featurette-like pieces that cover the development and production, art and costume designs, visual effects and more. Again, everyone’s psyched to talk about what they do, but their eagerness outweighs any excitement generated by the film. A more enjoyable supplement (as it’s not all about the film) is “The Universe According to Green Lantern,” a 20-minute short on the character’s history, appeal and mythology.

Of the extended version of Green Lantern, which is nine minutes longer that the theatrical cut, it’s nothing game-changing and more of the same.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.