Go back through the CV and Reynolds appears ideally suited to the role of cocky test pilot Hal Jordan. But the guy who starred as jock Van Wilder in Van Wilder: Party Liaison, Wade Wilson in Wolverine (soon to be spun off) and other dudes called Chip and Brad in films before that decides to tone it down. He leaps out of bed, leaving a beautiful woman (check), only to suffer a panic attack in the cockpit - by way of a clumsy flashback to his father's death - crash the plane and get scolded by his childhood crush and fellow pilot Carol (the button-nosed Blake Lively). This should prompt a table-slapping Tom Cruise-style temper tantrum, but instead he soaks it up. Boo.
Hal is just too nice a guy, leaving the character with no place to go except rushing to the aid of another crash victim Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), even though he looks like a mutant PlaySkool Glo Worm and bleeds purple. Jordan gets a hint that we're not alone in the universe, but he's ill-prepared for news that an alien super-thing called Parallax is lolling at the edge of the galaxy like a giant ink-oozing squid readying to suck the life out of it. Hal is chosen as one of a legion of guardians plucked from all corners of the universe to defend against such evil. Essentially, they're space cops armed with green bling that turns thought into reality and will into action.
There is a convoluted mythology partly explained by Hal's grudging mentor Sinestro (a literally red-faced Mark Strong) who talks a lot about "fear versus will". Similarly, the backstory at times threatens to bog down the present-day action which sees Peter Saarsgard as a bitter scientist who becomes completely twisted - physically as well as mentally - by the bad Parallax vibes. Meanwhile, Hal is grappling with his own fears about whether he is worthy of the ring, and of Carol. When it comes to good old-fashioned comic book values like saving the world and getting the girl, Hal seems only good for flirting with the idea then running - though never too far away.
Unlike his subject, director Martin Campbell (a veteran of shoot-'em-ups) is more at ease with action than soul-searching. There are memorable stunts spiked with dry humour, like Hal guiding a falling chopper carrying the Senator (Tim Robbins) by visualising a racetrack full of sharp turns. Other worlds in the Lanterns' jurisdiction are also realised in arresting detail, but there's a kitsch factor too. Hal's uniform is made of light energy, fashioned in CGI and quite fetching, but Sinestro and Abin Sur are flashbacks to the days of clunky '60s sci-fi. Strong still manages to be intimidating, but the present villains are too goofy. The bigger disappointment is that Hal's own personal demons aren't fully drawn. After all, what's the point of glowing if it's not dark enough?
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