After just reviewing Super 8 and not absolutely loving it, now I’m going to cement my status as worst movie reviewer of the year.
Some of why I liked it was that I went in with middling expectations. I knew the buzz wasn’t super, and that first trailer made it look a little doofy. But I went anyway (midnight showing on Thursday, in fact) and was pleasantly surprised.
Okay, Ryan Reynolds is awesome. We all know that. But no one thought he would be the problem, playing the lead character of Hal Jordan. I was very worried about Blake Lively, based on the tiny snippets of her performance that made it into the advertising. Now I don’t think anyone will be talking about her as an Oscar contender (or even as an MTV Movie Award contender, for that matter) but for this kind of role, she did just fine. She’s a post-feminist heroine, so she’s a fighter pilot and a businesswoman… but she also glams up nice for a party and makes a lot of goo-goo eyes at Hal.
The other big (human) character is Peter Sarsgaard as a mild-mannered scientist who gets zapped by pure evil and becomes a grotesque, bubble-headed telepath. I didn’t love that character, but he was an interesting enough stand-in for the real bad guy. You see, the real bad guy for this film is a weird, amorphous cloud of goo that feeds off of people’s fear.
This leads me to the wildest part of the film: the Green Lantern back-story. See if you can follow: A race of immortal Guardians built a machine that collects the physical essence of the will of every sentient being in the universe. (FYI, will is green.) They then transfer this green energy to 3,600 lanterns, which are owned by a corps of peacekeepers called, conveniently enough, Lanterns. The lanterns then transfer the energy into semi-sentient rings, which the Lanterns wear, and give them the ability to create anything they can imagine in their minds. (But whatever they imagine always ends up being green. Weird.)
This is such wild, outlandish stuff, it goes beyond space opera into, what, space fantasy? Personally, I loved it. They had enough rules to make me happy, but enough leeway to have some fun with it. (The training sequence was a hoot.)
The bad guy (called Parallax) was a creature that used, instead of will, fear. (FYI, fear is yellow.) I mean, this is taking allegory to the point of abstraction. But I enjoyed this so much more than the pseudo-scientific explanations of the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard in Thor. This isn’t trying to be real. It’s trying to be the craziest, bong-induced lunacy that you can still call a story. And I thought it worked.
Here’s another reason I liked this movie: Mark Strong. That guy is awesome. Really. Look him up.
So far, this is my favorite film of the summer. I thought it was funny and scary and exciting and even moving at times. Just what you want from a summer popcorn flick.