New this week on DVD and Blu-ray: Ryan Reynolds suits up for a comic book adventure in Green Lantern; Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day take on the people who make their lives hellish in Horrible Bosses; plus a look at Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil – Season 1 on DVD.
Green Lantern [October 14]
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Jay O. Sanders
Director: Martin Campbell
Superhero movies are more than a little thick on the ground these days, and they’ve been piling up ever since Marvel managed to prove that comic books could be a source of legitimate box office smash hits.
Not all superheroes–or their movies–are created equal though, and Green Lantern ranks as one of the weaker heroes to arrive on screen since X-Men Origins: Wolverine or the Superman remake.
The film starts with a seemingly epic introduction where we learn that the universe is divided into more than 3000 sectors that are each protected by one guardian. These guardians are fearless creatures who use the energy of willpower–stored in their own personal ring and lantern–which they harness to keep their region of space safe from evil.
Of all the challenges the universe has faced, the worst was a being known as Parallax, a creature which feeds on the power of fear to destroy everything in its path. The creature was imprisoned, thanks to the greatest of the Lanterns, Abin Sur, but as we see in the opening, Parallax finds a way to escape and attacks the hero, gravely wounding him as he escapes.
Enter Hal Jordan, played by Ryan Reynolds, a reckless fighter pilot who has a near-death experience right before a big green ball of energy grabs him and sends him to meet a nearly dead Abin Sur, who has landed on Earth to find a successor before he dies.
As Hal stumbles along, trying to decide what to do with the ring and lantern he has been given, he eventually says the oath that binds him to the ring, which sends him rocketing into space to visit the homeworld of the Green Lanterns where he will be trained.
Meanwhile, Hector Hammond, played by Peter Sarsgaard, has been called in by a government agency to inspect Abin Sur’s body, and in the process of carrying out an autopsy the doctor is infected by a remnant of Parallax, which starts to change him into a crazed, mind-reading, telekinetically powered monster.
Hal will learn about his abilities, which allow him to create nearly anything with the power of his will, while Hector slowly turns quite evil, and Parallax moves to destroy the power of the Green Lanterns and their homeworld.
Featuring a run-of-the-mill romance between Hal and his boss, Carol Ferris, played by Blake Lively, plus a silly, little-used sidekick, and a callous father figure, Green Lantern is a hodge-podge of archetypes and storylines that will seem familiar to anyone who has ever seen a superhero film before. At times the archetypes can be quite good, as Hal discovers his abilities and tries to stand up and be fearless, but at other times, as with the relationship between Hector and his father, the whole film gets bogged down in stereotypes that don’t work all that well.
The biggest problem with the film, however, is that it never maintains a clear tone, and the film goes from high-energy scenes to turgid expositions without much effort to make the film move at a reasonable pace.
I also can’t help but compare Green Lantern to another film. Say what you will, but Green Lantern is effectively The Mask of the comic book world, and they even like the same colour. The only difference is that the Green Lantern doesn’t make ridiculous faces, but all his imagined weapons and creations bear a certain resemblance to those of The Mask, which makes it very difficult to take Hal’s epic quest at all seriously. The Green Lantern may have come first in the comic book world, but in terms of movies, this one bears an ugly resemblance to Jim Carrey at times.
As tough as I am on the film, I won’t deny it is still fun and lively, generally, and although Reynolds could have used a stronger character, he’s not a bad Green Lantern, at least in the mostly kid-friendly way he’s been rendered. Like his hero, director Martin Campbell just needed a little bit more imagination to bring this story to life, while avoiding some of the silliness inherent in the character.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Day, Jamie Foxx
Director: Seth Gordon
No matter how old you are or what jobs you’ve had, at one point or another everyone has had a bad boss that inspired dread, fear, and loathing, which is what makes director Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses such a hilarious romp.
Featuring three of the worst bosses to step foot on planet Earth, Horrible Bosses asks the question: what if you couldn’t take it any more and had to get rid of your evil boss once and for all?
For Nick, played by Jason Bateman, his horrible boss is Mr. Harken, played by Kevin Spacey, a vicious, conniving overlord who inspires fear in all his employees. Convincing him for months that Nick was about to get a big promotion, Harken then does the unthinkable, absorbing the title into his own job and taking the wage increase with it while he warns Nick that he’s stuck with his job forever.
Meanwhile Dale, played by Charlie Day, is a dental assistant who is about to be married, but his boss is the sexually obsessed Dr. Julia Harris, played by Jennifer Aniston, who frequently takes advantage of the patients and desperately wants to have sex with Dale. For a while, Dale can take it, but when she lures Dale’s fiancé into the office and puts her under for some dental work, while trying to have sex with him on top of her, Julia has finally gone too far.
Finally, there’s Kurt, played by Jason Sudeikis, the happiest employee you could meet, until his perfect boss has a heart attack which propels his horrible cocaine-snorting son, Bobby, played by Colin Farrell, into command. Bobby is exactly the worst person to run his family business and just wants to freeload on the company’s earnings, party with strippers in his office, and fire anyone he considers fat or weird.
Joking at first that the three of them should band together and kill their bosses, Nick, Kurt and Dale quickly realize they have to do something before they turn into simpering losers, and since the job market is horrifying and their prospects are non-existent, the only answer seems to be to go ahead with murder.
Searching for someone who can help them, the trio of friends stumble upon Dean ‘MF’ Jones, played by Jamie Foxx, a man who agrees to be their “murder consultant” to help them get the job done. His suggestion is simple; they should kill each other’s bosses so it’s less likely they will be suspected, which means Nick will take care of Bobby, Kurt has Julia, and Dale has to handle Mr. Harken.
The guys have their work cut out for them, but the worst problem may be that they’ve seriously underestimated Mr. Harken, who could end up getting them all thrown in jail.
Featuring a comically committed, perfect cast, hilarious jokes, and just a hint of spice thanks to the ever-sexy Jennifer Aniston, Horrible Bosses is by far the funniest film I’ve seen this year. Between the screenplay and Gordon, the film moves briskly, but it does miss some opportunities. For one, Aniston is sexy, funny, rude and a great evil boss, but she still feels moderately wasted. Likewise, Farrell is scummy and twisted, but again, not quite as funny as he should have been in this film.
Between Bateman, Sudeikis, Foxx, and especially Day and Spacey, Horrible Bosses springs along at every vengeful step, and keeps the entire mood light and silly, even as bullets fly, someone dies, and the police come in hot pursuit. Whether you hate your boss or not, Horrible Bosses is just plain funny, but you may walk out wondering how Day stole the show from an actor as funny as Jason Bateman.
Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil – Season 1
Starring: Alex House, Maggie Castle, Billy Turnbull, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes
Welcome to Crowley High, your average high school in a small town that just happened to be founded by Satan-worshipping weirdos that have somehow lost their cursed magical tome: the Book of Pure Evil. Enter Todd and Curtis, played by Alex House and Billy Turnbull, two buddies who mistakenly discover the book and realize it’s power, and how it must be stopped.
The first season has the two guys and their friends, played by Maggie Castle and Melanie Leishman, fighting off all manner of weird, disgusting and obnoxious monsters as the school’s janitor, Jimmy, played by the one and only Jason Mewes, cheers them on and offers sage advice.
Weird, funny, and surprising in nearly every way, Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil is a very rare treat that’s proudly Canadian, and it’s happy to revel in being lewd, crude, and totally funny. The show is not for everyone, but if you like your comedy a la Army of Darkness, except maybe a little cruder, this is the show for you.