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‘Green Lantern’ starring Ryan Reynolds might be a little uneven, but offers a solid message

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Believe it or not, Green Lantern is one of the oldest superheroes in the history of comic books,Ryan Reynolds is Green Lantern. Photo: daemonsmovies.com first making an appearance in July of 1940 in All-American Comics #16.

However, much like Marvel Comics’ Iron Man, Green Lantern (despite being my sister’s favorite) is not a household name to your casual comic book fan. But it was about time DC Comics took a chance cinematically on a character whose name is not Batman or Superman, and Green Lantern was their choice.

In the film, Ryan Reynolds  plays Hal Jordan, a cock-sure test pilot in the United States Air Force. Shortly after Jordan outduels two simulator jets and nearly killing himself in the process, he is “chosen” by a dying alien to inherit his ring and the power of a Green Lantern, a military unit on the planet Oa who have just lost four of their members at the hands of Parallax, who strikes fear into the hearts of almost every one who crosses his path.

When Jordan visits Oa, he is not treated too kindly by the other Green Lanterns, including his instructor Sinestro (Mark Strong). No human has even been chosen to be part of their group, and Jordan must prove himself to them and to himself while trying to balance his own fears with the powers that have been bestowed upon him. At the same time, he is vying for the affections of Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), a former co-worker and on again-off again love interest.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is recruited by Dr. Amanda Walker (Angela Bassett) to inspect the now deceased alien who gave Jordan his ring and lantern, Hammond is unknowingly affected by Parallax (who injured the dying alien before his escape to earth), and the side effects could offer dangerous consequences for Jordan as well as the fate of the world.

I know that’s a lot to swallow, and Green Lantern has a few drawbacks. At the center of it all is its uneven storyline, which throws everything else off-kilter. As spectacular and intense as the action scenes are (and they ARE intense), the film almost relies on them. In all honestly, Reynolds' character is more interesting when the mask is off. Director Martin Campbell  alternates with Hammond, Jordan, and Green Lantern in the story to the point where you almost lose place as to what is happening.

The chemistry between Reynolds and Lively is fine,  but after a while, the dynamic between your basic super hero protagonist and their leading ladies is the same cookie-cutter approach that almost every super hero film offers. It’s just more of a “been there, seen that” sort of thing. Although the film has some rough edges, Reynolds’ does an effective job of balancing comedic sensibility while coming to terms with himself and his newfound purpose through his trials and tribulations.

Though Green Lantern is labelled as an action film, perhaps its most compelling message is that sometimes life’s biggest obstacle can be yourself, and how you deal with what life throws at you can define who you are.

Minus having to fight aliens, of course.

Stars: *** out of five. Green Lantern is best viewed in IMAX 3D.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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