Green Lantern, The Beaver, Bad Teacher, Stake Land – Weekend Movie Guide

The NME Weekend Movie Guide featuring absolutely, positively no jokes about Jodie Foster’s Beaver or Cameron Diaz’s Box or Guy Ritchie’s Snatch or Jennifer Lopez’s Hairy Axe Wound

Green Lantern

The Big Release

The Green Lantern

What’s the story? Cocky cock of a fighter pilot, Hal Jordan, is a man without ‘Fear’. As such, when a purple-headed man crash lands on Earth and seeks a fearless man to enter his ring, the ring picks Hal. But with the ring and it’s magical power, comes great responsibility.

Cast: Ryan Reynolds (Buried, The Proposal), Blake Lively (The Town, Gossip Girl), Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Jarhead). Director: Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro).

Plus points: The most entertaining aspect of The Green Lantern has been online ‘trolls’ crying over negative reviews. Their conspiracy theories ranging from ‘Fox newspapers are biased against Warner’ to claiming every professional critic who derided the flick as ‘obviously not having seen it’.

Let downs: Where to start? An opening few minutes of exposition that may as well have been white noise, flashbacks that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hot Shots movie, awful dialogue delivered at all times with the furrowed brow severity of Huw Edwards announcing the apocalypse and an occasional comedy sidekick who, while faintly resembling Moss from The IT Crowd, is as funny as an educational video about infant mortality.

Critics said: “Couldn’t have been any more irritating if the lead role was played by that bellowing Go Compare fatso” (News of the World), Green Lantern “sets up the likelihood of a sequel without delivering any convincing reasons why anyone should be excited by the prospect” (The Daily Telegraph). 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Verdict: It’s not quite Batman and Robin levels of awfulness but it veers dangerously close. Those of us who defended Ryan Reynolds in films like Definitely, Maybe and Buried(and I’d like the jury to note that I admit to enjoying both) will have a much harder job to do in future.


Also Out

The Beaver

What’s the story? Walter Black has been unable to ‘bring out the funk’ for years, sleepwalking through life, one spilt glass of milk away from a full breakdown. When his wife finally kicks him out of their home it takes a failed suicide attempt and a hand puppet found in a dumpster to turn his life around.

Cast: Mel Gibson (Braveheart, Lethal Weapon), Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver). Director: Jodie Foster (Little Man Tate, Home for the Holidays).

Plus points: As bare a performance as you’re likely to see this or any other year, every wrinkled crevice of Gibson’s face shows a man at pains with who he is, unaware of why he does the stupid things he does. Scenes of alcoholism and self flagellation blur the line between reality and fiction to such an extent you’ll think that Foster could make a documentary about the man from the cutting room floor. Plus, it’s got a bit of Frightened Rabbit and Radiohead on the soundtrack! (although the latter is quite poorly used).

Let downs: Despite making use of two quality actors the subplot featuring Jennifer Lawrence and Anton Yelchin, (as Mels’ son in despair that he shares the same genes as his father), is weaker than a kitten with M.E. If the kid really doesn’t want to end up like Papa he should just hand out cookies at the local Synagogue. Boom!

Critics said: “A brave, strange, brain-stirring piece of filmmaking” (Empire) it’s “an experience unlike anything else you’ve seen, but not a very involving one” (Film4. 63% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Verdict: The Beaver is an oddity for sure, but one that deserves a small round of applause if, for nothing else, at least daring to be different. As for the much talked about ‘Tormented Mel’, his friend Foster really has put in the effort to reinvest some humanity in the man. It’s almost enough to make lazy jokes about Jewish folk and biscuits hard to write.

Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher

What’s the story? Elizabeth is happy to coast by in life until she can marry her rich fiancé and live off him. When he unceremoniously dumps her she reluctantly gets a job at the local school and sets her sights on raising enough cash for a boob job, hoping to snare herself a new man.

Cast: Cameron Diaz (Shrek, There’s Something About Mary), Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man). Director: Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Orange County).

Plus points: Such a workable idea it’s a miracle that nobody tried it sooner, to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “The script writes itself”. Diaz always gives her all to material regardless of whether it works, There’s Something About Mary, or it doesn’t, The Sweetest Thing.

Let downs: Never brave enough to go full out delinquent, the teachers of Teachers -C4 TV show- were naughtier than this. And that show had the benefit of being set in a high school with the ‘grownups as teenagers’ metaphor cleverly played up, a subtext that Bad Teacher desperately needs.

Critics said: “Gleefully rude, crude and often a lot of fun” (Empire), Bad Teacher “sits firmly in the ‘pass’ bracket” (Sky). 60% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Verdict: Think of a seemingly cuddly profession, muse on what someone in that profession wouldn’t do, make the character do said things, slap BAD on the front of the title, you’ve got yourself a serviceable comedy. Not bad, but not much good either.

Stake Land

Stake Land

What’s the story? Hunter of the Undead, Mister, travels across a post-apocalyptic America killing any and all bloodsuckers that get in his way. When he takes an orphaned teenager under his wing the two begin to bond – creating a family against all the odds.

Cast: Nick Damici (World Trade Centre, In the Cut), Conor Paolo (Alexander, Mystic River). Director: Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street).

Plus points: As the three people who saw last years criminally underrated The Road can attest there is a beauty in the breakdown of civilisation. Bleak as it may be, a single ray of hope lets the soul soar.

Let downs: Vampires are quickly becoming the Michael McIntyre of the movieworld, ubiquitous little fuckers popping up every time you head to the flicks. Those allergic to those allergic to garlic may wish to stay clear.

Critics said: “This beautiful vampire movie drives a stake right through your heart” (Little White Lies), “Stake Land has style, vision and something to say about the world” (Total Film). 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Verdict: Those fooled into expecting a fun romp in the mould of Zombieland -a similarly plotted and likewise named apocalypse film- will be left shaking and shivering rather than chortling and chuckling. This is the apocalypse as imagined by Matheson and McCarthy and it ain’t a pleasant place.

The Best Film Still Showing

X-Men: First Class
A week ago I was less than complimentary about the latest X-sequel, thinking it was a slight let-down and weaker than most who gave it mainly glowing reviews. But a week is a long time in movies and if The Green Lantern is good for anything it’s to show the virtues of Vaughn’s prequel. Yes there are still complaints -fudging character history, dodgy FX and accents, an over-reliance on teen troubles- but the double header of Fassbender and McAvoy are worth your money alone.

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