ON ITS iridescent, green surface, Martin Campbell’s special effects-heavy battle of the planets is mindless guff but there are universal truths buried amid the hokum torn from the pages of DC Comics.
That Ryan Reynolds is the leading actor of his generation when it comes to losing his clothes, regardless of whether his nudity serves any narrative purpose.
That terrible dialogue doesn’t magically improve when delivered as a rallying cry over James Newton Howard’s sweeping orchestral score.
And that if you’re going to use another superhero as a template, it might as well be the Man of Steel, who was rumoured to be making a cameo appearance in this film.
Green Lantern nods affectionately to Richard Donner’s 1978 classic with a spectacular helicopter crash and a romantic interlude between super-powered saviour and smitten damsel on her balcony.
The most ridiculous aspect of the Superman mythology – Lois’s inability to recognise Clark in spandex – provides the screenwriters of Campbell’s film with an obvious laugh at the expense of their masked avenger.
“I’ve known you since we were children. You didn’t think I’d recognise you because I can’t see your cheekbones?” scoffs the heroine.
Voiceover narration courtesy of Geoffrey Rush establishes the existence of a band of intergalactic protectors known as the Green Lanterns, who maintain peace and justice in the universe using superpowers granted to them by funky rings.
When an old adversary called Parallax re-emerges in the Lost Sector, venerated Green Lantern warrior Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) is fatally wounded in the ensuring melee and his ring chooses cocksure United States Air Force test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) as a worthy successor.
While Hal is impetuous and weak, he is blessed with humanity and the most important attribute of all: he looks smokin’ hot in a skin-tight green bodysuit.
Saving the Earth from Parallax puts a dampener on Hal’s on-off romance with fellow pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively).
Luckily, she has a stalker: scientist Dr Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), who is exposed to a wisp of Parallax’s evil and begins to mutate into a hideous harbinger of doom.
Green Lantern doesn’t light up the big screen.
It casts a dim glow thanks to a smattering of crisp dialogue (“Watch your back,” someone warns Hal; “That’s impossible,” he retorts cheekily) and slick set pieces.
Reynolds wisecracks and flexes his abs without breaking a sweat but he generates pleasing screen chemistry with Lively.
As the earthbound villain, Sarsgaard is pitiful rather than insidious, and he looks almost as old as his screen father, Tim Robbins.
Parallax turns out to be a digitally rendered, angry brown octopus.
Audiences will see through the technical wizardry and surmise that, like so many superheroes before him, Green Lantern smoulders but doesn’t catch light.
STAR RATING: ***