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Review: 'Green Lantern'

Another superhero hits the summer blockbuster roster.

celebrates 'The Summer of Super Heroes’ this week as Green Lantern, the movie based on the 1940s comic book of the same name, hits the big screen. In conjunction with , the comic book store on Ventura Boulevard, ArcLight is giving away free movie ephemera all summer long. Grab a complimentary Green Lantern comicbook and spiffy-looking 'magic' ring on your way in; and watch out for similar promos for Transformers, Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens, all slated to open this summer. And, as an added bonus, there's a display of original comic books to look at in the theater's hallway.

The Green Lantern is simple, harmless, summer-blockbuster fare, and, while not actively bad, it does tend to get bogged down with too much backstory exposition.  First, there's the obligatory tale of an extraterrestrial battle of good versus evil. Second, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), like many a budding superhero before him (think Batman and Spiderman), is haunted by the memory of a dead parent. Backstory number three is signaled by the arrival of spurned love interest Carol Ferris (played by the exquisite and eminently un-spurnable Blake Lively.) Only after all this tiresome narrative has unraveled is the action allowed to move onward.

The Green Lantern Corps–a collection of superheroes charged with looking after the universe–inhabit Oa, a craggy, rock-infested pit not dissimilar to Jotenheim in Thor (why do supposedly highly evolved non-earthlings live amidst precipices?). While the planet looks impressive in 3-D, in general the extra dimension seems sad and perfunctory, a weary nod at box-office obligations.

Reynolds' supporting cast aquit themselves well, particularly Peter Sarsgaard, who oozes with genuine creepiness as Hector Hammond, a nerdy scientist with a nasty comb-over hairdo. It's what Sarsgaard does best: think of his characters in Bad Education and Elegy, where he blends charm and unctious incivility in equal measure.

There are some let-downs, though: Good-guy alien Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) looks like an ichthyological cross between Jar-Jar Binks and Eddie Izzard, while the Guardians (Oa’s equivalent of the Supreme Court) are surely the scion of the Yoda and Dan Dare's Meekon. If these characters are mashups, then so too is the movie. It lacks something that it doesn't take superhuman powers to create: originality.

Dir: Martin Campbell. 105 minutes. PG-13. Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins.

Now playing at the on Ventura Boulevard and the . For showtimes, click here for the ArcLight and here for the Pacific.

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