REVIEW: Green Lantern

20 06 2011

The old adage traditionally goes “money can’t buy you happiness,” but in respect to the latest Hollywood comic book adaptation, “Green Lantern,” money can’t buy you quality. The higher the pedestal, the harder the fall, and with a $200 million price tag, this movie lands a hard face plant.  Even with Ryan Reynolds turning in one of the better superhero performances in recent memory, the movie’s unimaginative script and laughable special effects render it one step short of unbearable.

The first movie in any hopeful series has to do a lot of introductions, and the hero has to earn his stripes.  But here, the exposition just made me want to howl with laughter because of its corniness, and they even brought in Geoffrey Rush to do some of the narration to make it sound serious!  The whole universe they set up feels like some rejected, half-baked idea for a Disney Channel series with its Sectors of the universe, the wise sages known as Guardians, and the intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps.

Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is the lucky human who gets to join their ranks thanks to being “chosen” by the green light after another Green Lantern crash-lands on Earth.  Cocky, rule-breaking, and daredevil Jordan has his work cut out for him as the Green Lanterns draw their power from the green light of will, while the menacing Parallax (and his new convert Hector Hammond, Peter Sarsgaard’s mad scientist with a nasty receding hairline) draws his power from the yellow light of fear.  He must learn to use willpower to overcome fear by using the power of imagination – which makes it all the more ironic that the movie’s big theme copies that of the poorly received “Spider-Man 3.”  Clearly it’s not Jordan who needs the green light; it’s the people who wrote the script.

The whole mess, which goes on for nearly two hours, is full of plot holes and ridiculous implausibilities (flying next to the sun?) that make it even more laughable.  But the icing on the cake is the movie’s visual effects, which are honestly the WORST that I’ve seen in a blockbuster made this millenium.  When Jordan harnesses the green energy and transforms, he looks so fake that it’s hard to take him seriously.  It’s made worse by the fact that his eyes are sloppily changed blue, making him look borderline possessed (not to mention that it does jack squat to protect his identity).  And don’t even get me started on those Guardians; they look like the offspring of trolls bred with Smurfs.

Truly, Reynolds deserves better than this.  He may be the “Sexiest Man Alive,” but he’s also out to prove that he’s more than just a pretty face.  He puts a lot of soul into this character, giving Jordan some depth and emotion, yet he’s stifled by a terrible movie that is unintentionally more like “Bridesmaids” than “Thor.”  Reynolds is a star here, but he can’t shine bright enough to overpower the ugly light that is “Green Lantern.”  From a critical perspective, it’s a big, fat red light for this movie.  C- / 

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REVIEW: Edge of Darkness

27 07 2010

Some movies are no one’s idea of a masterpiece. Martin Campbell, who directed the acclaimed “Casino Royale,” made the pretty average “The Legend of Zorro” as well. William Monahan, who won the Oscar for writing “The Departed,” was also responsible for bringing middle-of-the-road entertainment like “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Body of Lies” to the screen. Mel Gibson, who starred in the beloved “Braveheart,” has more than a few rotten movies littering his mostly impressive resume.

Then there are movies that are no one’s idea of good, and each of the three men above did their part to bring about the disaster that is “Edge of Darkness.” It’s a tragic misstep for all – deplorably written, poorly directed, and miserably acted.

The movie is that same kind of revenge thriller that he has been attracted to in the past (“Ransom” and “Payback,” just to name a few), only it has an unnecessary and convoluted backstory of political intrigue. We’d be plenty happy to watch Mel kick butt and take names, as I suspect that’s the main reason a lot of people have wanted to see this movie. But we only get a YouTube video-length glimpse of the untethered Gibson, which is apparently not too much different than the actor himself.

Instead, we are forced to watch him to try to act stricken with sadness and grief as he mourns his murdered daughter. It borders on painful to watch him try, especially whenever he talks to her as if she walks beside him. Eventually, he puts on the mask of vengeance and winds up caught in his daughter’s web of political intrigue. He starts messing with some massive power players. For him, it’s personal, but for them, it’s business. Eventually, the story becomes tiring and tedious, and all we want is to see Mel Gibson unleashed. That’s not too much to ask for, is it? But Monahan and Campbell insist on trying to craft a “smart thriller,” something they are incapable of doing at least on this movie.

“Edge of Darkness” is more of an epitaph than a movie. Gather here to mourn these fallen talents, it seems to cry. Perhaps Monahan needs Scorsese’s vision to succeed; perhaps Campbell needs the stakes of a hero like James Bond to make a movie work; perhaps Mel Gibson just needs some help. C- /