Believe it or not, this summer has already brought us three movies based on comics or graphic novels. Some have done quite well for their franchises (Thor, X-Men: First Class) while others haven’t been so lucky (Priest). This weekend brings about the fourth of these films, Green Lantern, which is DC Comics first summer film since last year’s train wreck Jonah Hex. With new films in the Superman and Batman franchises on the way, Green Lantern is DC’s best bet for a hit until those other superhero monstrosities are released. But before you check out the newest superhero film of this summer, check out some of these under ranked films from the stars of Green Lantern.
Last year, before Ryan Reynolds suited up as Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern and was fast tracked as one of Hollywood’s new big action stars, he made a simple yet interesting film called Buried. In the film, Reynolds plays Paul, a truck driver from the United States in Iraq, who wakes up to find himself in a coffin. Paul is left with his lighter and a cell phone to help him escape his trap. It may sound like that one scene in Kill Bill Vol. 2, just extended to a full feature, but it becomes much more than that. When Paul is given hope by having his captors tell him that they want a ransom, Paul must figure out the fastest way to receive the money that is being asked of him. In doing so, Reynolds shows a wide range of emotion that we rarely see in him. We see him go from terrified to overjoyed and everything in between. While the film does feel stretched at only 95 minutes, it is a captivating film as Reynolds fights the clock in a race for his life and shows that he can be more than just the comedy or actions star.
With his role as Hector Hammond, Peter Sarsgaard claims his biggest role yet in a career filled with great independent films such as Boys Don’t Cry, Garden State and An Education. One of these great Sarsgaard performances comes in the little seen Year of the Dog. Written and directed by Mike White, who also wrote The School of Rock and The Good Girl, Year of the Dog is the story of Peggy, played by Molly Shannon, whose most important relationship is with her dog Pencil. When Pencil dies, she looks for something to fill that void in her life. She meets Newt, played by Sarsgaard, who works at the SPCA and offers her a new dog and teaches her about his beliefs in animal rights and veganism.
Peggy opens her world to his ideas and these new relationships, both human and animal, but her new openness may be more of a burden than a good replacement. Shannon works great here as the female lead, something she deserves more chances at. White’s writing is fun and unique, much like most of his work and the supporting cast that includes Thomas McCarthy, Laura Dern and John C. Reilly balances out to a fun indie comedy that is a different type of love story than audiences are used to.
British actor Mark Strong has become known for his villainous roles. He was the main antagonist in such films as Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes and in last summer’s Robin Hood. In Green Lantern, he will play Hal Jordon’s mentor Sinestro (and c’mon with a name that has “sinister” as its’ root word, I think we all know where this is heading…). Before Strong became the go-to villain in big budget films, he was the villain in a great romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Frances McDormand plays Miss Pettigrew, a British nanny who has recently been fired from her newest job. When she finds out about a job that she believes to be a new nanny job, she investigates. She instead finds Delysia Lafosse, played by Amy Adams, a singer who doesn’t need a nanny, but does need help balancing the three men in her life.
Over twenty-four hours, Pettigrew has to help Lafosse with her playwright love interest Phil Goldman, the lovelorn pianist Michael Pardue, played by Lee Pace and her employer/manipulative club owner Nick Calderelli, as portrayed by Strong. In this one day, Pettigrew helps Lafosse weigh the pros and cons of each of these relationships while also learning more about who they each are at their cores. Miss Pettigrew works like a great screwball comedy from the 40s and is a fun change from the usual paint-by-numbers romantic comedies that flood the cinemas every year.