Ryan Reynolds

If Hollywood has taught us anything about the CIA it’s that those bastards really can’t be trusted. The exception to the rule is that the lower the character is on the agency’s totem pole the more honorable and good they’ll most likely be. They’re naive idealists who have yet to be molded by the big, bad world into heartless, morally bankrupt pricks motivated by warped patriotism and self interest. Which brings us to Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a low level agent stationed at the same, boring post for the last twelve months. He’s a “housekeeper” at a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa, and every day he waits for a coded call alerting him to the imminent arrival of an incoming “guest.” The call finally comes when Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) mysteriously turns himself into the local US embassy after a decade on the run as an ex-agent turned traitor and killer. He’s moved to the safe house and immediately interrogated via water-boarding and harsh language. But when the inaccurately named safe house is attacked by a gaggle of heavily armed men Weston finds himself tasked with his guest’s safety and on the run from killers both foreign and domestic. The result is a film that offers no surprises in its story or character arcs but still manages to thrill with some stellar action sequences and two talented and charismatic leads. (That’s right. Two.)

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Amidst the pinky-out prestige of awards season sits the manic pixie of The People’s Choice Awards. Perhaps they can easily be dismissed by the cinephile crowd for not being nearly well-rounded or interesting enough, but looking at the nominees and the winners can provide a bird’s eye view into the abyss of mass-entertainment. With over 200 million votes cast, according to a press release, the winners included Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds as The Green Lantern, Adam Sandler‘s comedy and Bridesmaids. To put that into perspective, that’s a ridiculous amount of people. To really put it into perspective, it’s 7.6 million more people than the entire population of Brazil, and it’s 2/3rds the population of the United States. The giant, faceless wad of “the people” have made these their movie champions of 2011:

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Drinking Games

Just because it was raked over the critical coals this past summer doesn’t mean that Green Lantern can’t be fun. And even though St. Patrick’s Day is five months away, this would be a perfect time to get your hands on some green beer and watch the film again on DVD or Blu-ray (or if you’re really ambitious, on 3D Blu-ray). Remember that a Green Lantern’s might comes from the power of will. Here is your chance to test the strength of your will and intestinal fortitude. Who knows? By the end of the movie, you might just believe that you can create things with your mind.

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Narrator Ryan Reynolds introduces us to the story of Luna by way of simple metaphor – it was as if he was a child in a grocery store, a child who turned around and found his family missing, no longer in the same aisle, and when he went looking for them, he went down the wrong aisle. In July of 2001, the two year old Orca whale calf appeared in Nootka Sound, a complex inlet on the northern west coast of Vancouver Island, an area that was hundreds of kilometers from the normal grounds of the Southern Resident Killer Whale of which Luna was a part (having been tracked by the scientists that study that community since soon after his birth in 1999). Luna was alone. Orcas do not do well alone. What scientists know about the pod structure that Orcas live in hinges almost totally on one prevailing element – the pod is the most important thing. Orca families stay together forever. Those who study the whales have come to believe that their socialization needs are more profound and more strong than even those of humans. So what was Luna going to do, a veritable toddler alone in a wide stretch of sea? If he was another whale, Luna might have just faded away, but this was Luna, and if The Whale wants us to know one thing, it is this – Luna was special, Luna came to Nootka Sound for a reason, Luna was something different.

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In a genius casting move, R.I.P.D. has brought on Victoria’s Secret model Marisa Miller to act as a beautiful, empty vessel. That’s not a knock on Ms. Miller (who I don’t know personally and couldn’t judge), but a grand statement on the minor trend of hiring models to act. So far, the scientific results of the experiment have been a failure. Although, in a karmic way, I imagine it’s partial payback for so many movie stars being hired as voice actors. They push voice actors out of work, and now models are pushing them out of jobs. The only end to this circle is to see voice actors become models. Billy West in a bikini is our new future now. In the film, Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges both play dead detectives who wrap up cases with dead souls who refuse to move on. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Miller will play the body that Bridges’s character chooses to manifest his ghostly self as when walking amongst the living. It sounds like a small role to be used solely as a gag (and hopefully with Bridges’s gruff tones coming out of Miller’s mouth). So, yes, in a play of stunning exactitude, a super model has been hired to walk around, look good and be inhabited by a better actor.

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Press conferences can be many things – informative, entertaining, boring, long, short, disastrous, fluffy, bullshit, and sometimes even honest. Happily, sitting in on the junket for The Change-Up, I found this press conference to be three of my favorites: entertaining, brief, and honest. With a movie like The Change-Up, you’re really going to come across any ground breaking information – after all, it’s just a comedy. Not to belittle comedies or anything, but it’s not a gigantic science fiction beast, a gigantic budgeted translation of a famed comic-book, nor is it a gigantic spectacle of shit blowing up. If you’re looking for brilliant insight into the film-making process, you’re barking up the wrong tree. However, if you want to hear me talk about who the most attractive men in the room where, Leslie Mann’s breasts, and David Dobkin’s color pallete, well keep on readin’ on.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads into a lab to liberate some apes, but they rise up, beat him down and fling their poo all over him. He washes up and heads home to his family, secretly longing for the swinging lifestyle of fellow FSR staffers like Neil Miller, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter. But since he doesn’t get a chance to pee in a fountain with any of them, he doesn’t get a chance to switch bodies with them, a la The Change-Up. This is probably a good thing because few people can take the awesomessness of his body.

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It’s a tale as old as time and as stale as those left-over everything bagels you brought home from the office two Fridays ago. Two humans living organisms, as different as night and day, cats and dogs, pee pee and poo poo, by some magical occurence swap bodies. Or minds. Or something. With literally dozens of iterations over the years, one would correctly wonder what was left to explore in the body swap comedy. As it turns out, there is, or was, at least one viable and comedic avenue left unexplored: the R-Rating. Make no mistake, The Change-Up strives to be R-Rated. Perhaps falling short of the hard R of The Hangover (John Lucas & Scott Moore wrote both), director David Dobkin peppers the screen with breasts (more on those later), urination scenes, two instances of diarrhea, a thumb in the asshole, and plenty of other inappropriate gags and the endangerment of children.

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While enduring the mild pain caused by Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I thought to myself, “Man, this Sam character is a real prick. What type of people actually like this person? This is the best savior we could get?” I then realized that I often find myself thinking this nowadays. We rarely get great, likable heroes or genuine badasses on film anymore. Most are either mopey, passive, or do morally questionable acts. I’m not referring to anti-heroes — although, I do include one on the list — but, rather, the unintentionally lame mainstream characters that aren’t the most compelling or charming. A few of these not-so-heroic characters aren’t due to bad acting. As you’ll notice, Leonardo DiCaprio made the list for Inception, where he gave a solid performance. While I wouldn’t say that most of the actors featured here impressed anyone, DiCaprio and a few others certainly did. Here are ten mainstream characters that exhibit very little heroics:

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We live in a movie-making world where performance doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to. The audience as judge and jury is an outdated concept, and if you’re movie doesn’t earn its money back, that doesn’t mean the funeral pyre needs to be erected. Green Lantern wasn’t exactly dead as a doornail when it hit the box office – it just didn’t shoot up through the stratosphere the way Warners undoubtedly hoped it would. Now, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the studio wants to move forward with the franchise even while admitting their disappointment.

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As Kermit the Frog once famously said, it ain’t easy being green. The same could be said for modern superhero films and comic book adaptations. It seems a daunting task when you really think about it, the notion that you’re entering into one of cinema’s most expensive endeavors, yearning to please its most incredulous audience while trying to carry the mainstreamers along as well. In some instances, as is the case with Green Lantern, you’re task is to bring a wide audience up to speed on a complex, rich and intensely alien mythology. It ain’t easy. So as an audience, when we see a film like Green Lantern, one that does so much of the most difficult stuff right, but gets almost all the easy stuff wrong, it can be the most entertainingly frustrating experiences of our summer. The whole thing smacks of 2006, when a passionate superhero auteur named Bryan Singer gave the world a lavish, modern version of the Man of Steel in Superman Returns. The things he got right in his pursuit of faith and glossy nostalgia were dazzling. The visual effects were seamless, the world’s hardest working alien was truly spectacular in flight and feat. But when it came down to the most basic elements of storytelling, the parts where we get to human emotions like love and longing, all the personality of a once dynamic character appears to have been sucked out by a cosmic force. Left in its wake was emptiness. Green Lantern suffers, […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in green and black spandex and parades around town telling people that he is a superhero who can create anything out of sheer will. Of course, it seems that the only thing he’s able to create is an ever-growing arrest report. Later, Kevin takes a trip to his local zoo where he sneaks into the penguin habitat in order to forge a bond with these flightless birds. Unfortunately, the penguins don’t take too well to him and peck him to near death, leaving Kevin to skulk away to the local movie theater in order to catch a double feature of Green Lantern and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

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Due to an inventory error, we’re now overstocked with Green Lantern merchandise and twenty-three thousand wacky, inflatable, arm-flailing, tubemen. But our loss is your gain, because we’re hosting a contest to give away a ridiculous amount of very cool Lantern stuff. This may take a bit more effort than our other contests, but the prize is worth it (especially if you’re a fan or the friend of a fan who wants to make them insanely jealous). So how do you enter? Glad you asked!

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I have to admit, while most everyone else seems to be geeking out over every new image and clip of video that gets released for Green Lantern, I myself am not so taken by the visual design of the film. It all looks a little too dark and muddy for me; I don’t like the organic nature of the suits or how the lantern looks like a big toy. And far too much of the image is made up of computer created imagery. The background, the foreground, the alien characters, even 90% of Ryan Reynolds himself, they’re all just computer generated fakeness. It gets to the point that Reynolds’ face is the only thing that’s real on the screen in some shots. It looks like when JD does Floating Head Doctor on Scrubs. One thing I can get behind, however, is their general design for the Corp. All of the characters are recognizable, and look just like the weirdos I remember from the comic. And one thing I can really give the art department props for is that they didn’t do anything stupid like give Sinestro a ponytail and a goatee. But they were going to.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Movies.com‘s John Gholson offers a primer before we all go see Green Lantern, and lead creature designer for the film (and Super 8, Avatar, and many others…) Neville Page talks about creating aliens. Plus, our very own Matt Patches faces off against UGO‘s movies editor Jordan Hoffman in a Movie News Pop Quiz that’ll be one for the books. We follow it up with a Green Lantern review, so stick around. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Bare witness to the awesome power of the Guardians. Fly through Oa and watch as the entire Green Lantern Corps summons the power of its rings. Run in fear as the yellow energy of their greatest foe runs rampant in the streets. There’s no doubt that some of the marketing for Green Lantern has been flaccid, but this trailer takes a dose of the little blue pill and lets it rip. This is a coming out party for a movie that’s really a space opera, and it’s refreshing to see Warners unafraid to show the world the cards it’s laying down on the table. Prepare to be blown away:

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Last year, I had the honor of traveling down to New Orleans, piling in a van, heading to a secluded warehouse and talking to an alien. I also spoke with the first human member of an elite group of interstellar heroes, a director who has more energy than anyone at his age has a right to, and I got a glimpse into a world beyond our own. So before comic book purists protest the insanely small number listed in the headline, these are the Green Lanterns hanging up on a wall somewhere in New Orleans – character design sketches to fill out the alien landscape of those who bravely, selflessly, and fearlessly patrol the universe. Some were born from the comic books, others from the minds of the production team. Some will be featured heavily, others will be hanging out (valiantly) in the background. We’ll be bringing Green Lantern set visit coverage to you all week, but to get things started, we figured it would be a good idea to do a round of introductions. Some you already know, and some you haven’t yet had the pleasure, so we wanted to make it official. Green Lanterns, meet the world. The world, meet the Green Lanterns.

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You know what’s great about Green Lantern? They aren’t shying away from the fact that the movie is a full-blown space opera featuring a lot of weird-looking aliens. That doesn’t happen everyday. Especially not with a tentpole flick. It’s admirable that the marketing isn’t just coverage of Ryan Reynolds‘s abs, but also the whole gang of strange and wondrous creatures protecting the universe with their magic jewelry. MTV has an exclusive banner that features at least 13 Lanterns (and maybe a 14th if Bzzd is hanging around somewhere). That’s the small version above, of course, but you’ll have to click over to MTV to check out the giant version in all its glory.

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Not content with the level of visual spectacle in the upcoming summer blockbuster Green Lantern, Warner Bros has decided to spend another 9 million dollars over the film’s original $45 million FX budget for last minute work and additions. Despite a second trailer that largely blew people away with its visuals, Lantern producers seem to still be a little skittish about response to the film’s first trailer, where unfinished FX gave a bad first impression. Green Lantern’s problem is becoming an industry wide one, where condensed post production schedules are butting heads with more and more films demanding huge amounts of visual effects to create an environment where FX work is all rushed, all the time. Without naming names, we all know that we’ve seen a couple productions lately where the FX work just wasn’t up to the standards of modern technology, and if things keep going in the direction they are, it’s probably only a matter of time before some big film isn’t able to complete its FX work on schedule at all.

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The upcoming Daniel Espinosa-directed thriller Safe House continues to fill out its cast. The film is said to be about a CIA safe house where criminals are detained, a young agent who acts as house sitter to the institution, and his attempts at moving a high profile criminal to another location once the house is under attack by a villainous organization. Denzel Washington was the first on board, playing the criminal who needs to get moved, and Ryan Reynolds signed up soon afterwards to play the young CIA agent. Now the rest of the cast is starting to come together as a start date looms. According to Deadline Kurpinova, Vera Farmiga has joined the cast, playing the CIA operative who supervises Reynolds’s character.  This choice was probably a no-brainer for the film’s casting agents as Farmiga has become something of a go-to whenever you need a slightly older, yet still attractive woman to play some sort of authority figure. Whether it be a doctor, or a successful businesswoman, or what have you, throw Farmiga in some business clothes and you’re good to go. Most recently she was seen in Source Code playing, you guessed it, a government agent. Say what you will about type casting, but Farmiga is a solid actress and playing these sorts of character roles is a great way to build a robust filmography and work with a lot of other great people. Plus, you have to appreciate the lady, because every time she gets cast in […]

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