Green Lantern

The Universe is facing certain annihilation by a terrible creature that feeds on fear. The Guardians of the 3600 sectors of space call upon the Green Lanterns to fight the beast, Parallax, and one of their greatest warriors, Abin Sur (Temeura Morrison), is mortally wounded. He needs to find his replacement and his ring of power brings him to the Earth. It has selected one man, test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), to take up the banner to save countless worlds from certain destruction as “Green Lantern.”

Laura's Review: A-

Cowriter (with Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie)/director Peter Farrelly has come a long way from "Dumb and Dumber" with this heartfelt and crowd pleasing true story about a most unlikely friendship. Tony is unrefined, a talker with a New Yawk accent, a sloppy and voracious eater and chain smoker with little education but a lot of street smarts. He's also an extreme bigot, appalling his wife when she finds two glasses in the trash, deposited there by her husband because they'd been used by two black repairmen. Dr. Shirley, on the other hand, is worldly, highly educated, meticulously groomed and refined. He doesn't smoke and is quiet and guarded. Both are charming in their natural habitats, but the confines of a turquoise Cadillac Seville, initially at least, prove challenging. Farrelly sets his stage between Manhattan and the Bronx, Tony using his last day at the Copa to con a mob guy, then raising cash by pawning his watch and outeating Fat Paulie on a $50 bet. He lives in a cramped apartment that is clearly loving home. When he locates Shirley's apartment above Carnegie Hall it completely contrasts his own, spacious with a servant (Amit, Iqbal Theba), towering elephant tusks, a Steinway grand piano and even a throne. But "Green Book" is a road movie and once that caravan of two turquoise Cadillacs sets off, the second transporting The Don Shirley Trio's cellist Oleg (Dimiter D. Marinov) and bassist George (Mike Hatton), we off on one helluva ride. At first, things aren't all that different, Tony amazed to be introducing Shirley to the music 'of his people' - Little Richard, Chubby Checkers and Aretha - which Shirley begins to appreciate even as he objects to Tony's constant nattering, distracted driving and smoking. Tony's amazed by their accommodations and the perks of the road under Shirley's touring contract. Knowing music from his extensive exposure in Manhattan clubs, Tony also recognizes Shirley's genius, listening to the man's piano playing with respectful awe. But soon after Tony's just about lost his mind over the joy of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky (and teaching Dr. Shirley, who's never had fried chicken of any kind, to throw the bones out the window), the Green Book's relevance kicks in when Tony pulls into the Carver Courts Motel. 'It looks like my ass,' observes Tony, reluctant to leave Shirley there while he stays elsewhere. Tony takes his job seriously, becoming protective of his boss, demanding his contractual stipulations be met. Where he once stayed outside tasteful gatherings, he now enters, witnessing rich white people fete the musician with, ironically, fried chicken, then deny him use of the house bathroom. A middle of the night call results in Tony learning something else about his boss, something scandalous for the time that Tony is surprisingly open minded about. In one of the film's best scenes, Dr. Shirley, afraid Tony will now leave him mid-tour, tries to offer a promotion and pay raise that Tony will not hear of. In another, Dr. Shirley helps Tony write a letter to his wife, one that expresses Tony's actual feelings instead of his usual litany of events, delighting Dolores back home. Everything comes to a climax with a Christmas Eve concert and a rebellion against the Jim Crow South that ends in an unexpected musical performance of another kind. Battling a snowstorm in order to get Tony home in time for Christmas ladles on more surprises. There is absolutely nothing new about "Green Book," not conceptually nor cinematically, but it is just about note perfect. It was Farrelly who thought of casting Mortensen, a brilliant idea as it turns out, the actor disappearing under an additional thirty pounds and the Italian American aura he soaked up from the Vallelonga family (who also star in Bronx set scenes). Ali is also in top form, his protective shell thawing as he gets to know the man behind the brash bluster. Cardellini may only appear in a handful of scenes, but her presence lingers, a wife wise to her husband's ways who loves him unreservedly as we fall in love with her. The period production is aces, locations around New Orleans standing in for the entirety of the Don Shirley Trio tour. And, of course, the music is wonderful, Shirley's classical, jazz and Gospel compositions mixed with Tony's radio tunings. Grade:

Robin's Review: C+

Never being a fan of the source D.C. Comics series I walked into the screening of “Green Lantern” with an open mind. The story is entertaining in a light weight way but the slew of writers (there are seven credited) do not set up a coherent story. Instead, the film is a series of often disjointed action sequences where the visual effects take over for any semblance of story. Also, the writers seem torn between being oh so serious and making jokes. This can be done and be well-balanced, but not by a writing committee. Acting is minimal since virtually all the characters are never given much by way of depth or dialog. Leading man Ryan Reynolds’s Hal is selected by a ring to be a superhero, proclaimed a Green Lantern, trained perfunctorily by the enormous Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan), advised by the sage, fish-like Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush), saves the beautiful heroine Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) and plunked into the middle of a cosmic war, and. He does all of this before he joins the battle against the humungous, multi-tentacle Parallax and save the Universe. So, it is understandable why there is so little character development across the board. With so much going on. I have to talk to my trusted comic-book aficionado friend to get the fan viewpoint on the film and the story. To me, a non-fanboy, “Green Lantern” feels like a muddled mishmash of ideas, some good, some not. There is too much information as the origin of the 3600 sectors of the Universe, what Parallax is and why he is such a big meanie and why the good guys should triumph over evil, as well as Hal’s back story. Every aspect of “Green Lantern” is well done, from a technical viewpoint, but it screams for a coherent, well-told story.