Movies: Green Lantern, Les Misérables, Liza Minnelli

 Ryan Reynolds recommends that superheroes wear 5000 SPF sunscreen

...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

Imagine that you had the power to will anything into existence. Let your imagination run wild. What would it be? Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is given this infinite gift in the new superhero flick Green Lantern. This power emanates from a ring which is charged by the title object which is given to--- Stop. Stop. You don't need this exposition. Should you choose to see the picture, the complicated history of the lantern will all be explained to you in a lengthy prologue. Once Hal Jordan has entered his own movie, this lengthy prologue will be explained to him again since he wasn't there for it. He in turn will tell this crazy-ass story to his only two friends since they weren't there when he heard it. (If at any point, nature should call, feel free to answer. They'll repeat it for you.)

So what does Hal do with this incredibly infinite gift? He creates fists, fighter jets, race tracks, swords, shields... the basic playthings of little boys. Hal Jordan isn't exactly gifted in the imagination department. Hal's true gifts lie in his incredible courage just as Ryan's lie in his incredible physique, making him the logical choice to play the first superhero who doesn't actually wear any clothing.


After a body scan on the Planet Oa --long story (you'll hear it a few times) -- he can materialize his Green Lantern suit at wil. Energy is the new spandex!


Green Lantern is at once ridiculously dumb and sort of enjoyable, especially if you just view it as one for the kiddie table. The best intentional laugh comes in a scene featuring test pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) which riffs on superhero masks and secret identities. The worst unintentional joke is Carol Ferris herself who wears clothes as tight as Hal's energy spandex and so much lip gloss that it's like its own visual effect. That's what girl pilots look like, okay!?!

Green-villainThe most curious thing about Green Lantern is that despite a teletubby-friendly color palette and a plot that can best be described as purple, the movie is entirely black and white. So binary is the movie's thinking that there's even a running gag about "thinkers versus doers". "Doers" (like Hal Jordan) are the good guys and "Thinkers" (like Dr Hector Hammond played by Peter Sarsgaard, left) are bad. In the funniest visual embodiment of Hollywood's sturdy anti-intellectualism that you may ever see, the Thinker even grows a hideous enlarged cranium from his part in the unfolding evil. THINKING IS BAD FOR YOU!

(Wouldn't thinkers would be the best wielders of rings powered by the imagination? Oh, never mind.)

In a funny way studio filmmakers have the same gift as Hal Jordan. Their magic rings are powered by millions of dollars and the technology to move any image they dream up onto the screen. Dream harder Hollywood.

The once Almighty box office champ Jim Carrey is returning, with arctic co-stars (though we're betting they're CGI enhanced), in MR POPPER'S PENGUINS. And here's something to make anyone feel exceptionally old: Freddie Highmore, that tiny boy who acted opposite of Johnny Depp in both Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now old enough to star in the romantic comedy THE ART OF GETTING BY. Still in theaters and previously reviewed (in case you're catching up): THOR, BEGINNERS and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS.

Hugh-on-broadway BONUS SCENE

Road Just last week in this very column we were talking about Hollywood's stupidity in not casting Hugh Jackman in a musical yet. Well, whaddyaknow? The Wolverine is now in talks to play the bread-stealing, power ballad belting Jean Valjean in the epic musical Les Misérables. It'll be director Tom Hooper's follow up to The King's Speech. And if that project is good enough for one ripped 40something hottie, how about two? Paul Bettany, in desperate need of a quality project, has already auditioned to play his nemesis Jalvert.

Dream a dream of someone great in the Fantine role… someone Best Supporting Actress Oscar-worthy!


Blu-ray-new Road Three gay-appeal classics have just debuted on Blu-Ray. The rock musical Hair and the beloved drag comedy Priscilla, are both enjoying renewed cultural heat from recent Broadway adaptations. But the new Blu-Ray I'm shoving in the player first is Martin Scorsese's wildly underrated New York New York (1977) with Liza Minnelli. I saw it for the first time a few years ago and was startled by how strong it was. Why do so few people talk about it, still, whether they're talking up Scorsese's classics or Liza's career? Maybe it comes down to the fact that it had the misfortune of arriving into the world after Cabaret and Taxi Driver; no matter how good it is, it was going to be suffer in comparison. It's well worth a look if you haven't seen it or haven't seen it in years. It's also a pretty substantial reminder that Liza Minnelli was a formidable screen actress in her time. Her Oscar-winning performance in Cabaret was not a one-off.

Die hard Liza fans may want to make it a double feature with Lucky Lady (1975, also new to Blu-Ray) which is a little seen 70s curiousity. It's kind of an unholy mess, story-wise, but it's fun to watch for a good portion of the running time. Three big stars near the peak of their fame (Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman) play prohibition-era booze smugglers in a rather happy ménage-à-trois relationship… only in the 70s!