In some of his more recent roles, Ryan Reynolds plays a mercenary mutant in X-Men Origins-Wolverine, a hen-pecked personal assistant in The Proposal and an American contractor taken captive in Iraq in Buried. Now donning a skin-hugging bodysuit, the muscled actor takes on the character of comic book protagonist The Green Lantern—not to be confused with the superhero wannabe in The Green Hornet.
Before getting his life-altering powers, Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is a cocky, impulsive, womanizing test pilot who chokes back his fears by performing outrageously reckless stunts. (One of which results in the crash of an expensive F-35 fighter jet.) And he’s not much more sensible on the ground. Not only does he live by the adage of "love ‘em and leave ‘em", the playboy is also the perfect poster boy for driver distraction when he tries to wrap a birthday gift while racing to work.
In the eyes of the universal powers that be (Mark Strong), Hal looks to be the least likely candidate to join the intergalactic alliance of the Green Lanterns, a group dedicated to protecting and policing the cosmos. Yet chosen he is, by a dying alien (Temuera Morrison) who crash lands on a rocky shoreline near Hal’s home.
Initially Hal proves to be fairly smug about his new abilities. After all, what could be headier for a pilot than to fly through the stratosphere without the encumbrance of a plane’s limitations? Yet he trivializes the importance of his powers and approaches his new duties with a kind of nonchalant, "aw shucks" I’m a superhero attitude. (This outlook leads to some of the film’s better comedic moments.) However, when the responsibilities of his role are revealed, he feels his old anxieties about living up to expectations beginning to surface.
Like all film adaptations, The Green Lantern will leave some purists complaining about altered storylines and the inclusion of extra characters. But for general audiences, the screenplay describing this superhero’s origin falls pretty much in line with the string of other such action figures we’ve seen over the past few years. Taking up most of its time with introductions and establishing motivations, the movie sets itself up for a sequel—with a hint of what is to happen at the end of the credits.
Unfortunately along the way, the script includes frequent depictions of violence between humans and aliens, including one scene in which a character sadistically takes the opportunity to incinerate his father. In another sequence, three men attack and viciously beat a character. All combined, the mayhem may prove too intense for the under 13 set.
Still for older teens looking for sci-fi action without too much unnecessary sexual content and language, The Green Lantern includes positive character development and strong messages about the worth of humanity and the importance of facing personal fears. Not bad from a guy who runs around in green tights.