No one expected Warners' DC movie Green Lantern to score with critics (it managed a mere 22% Tomatometer score), as opposed to well-reviewed Super 8 and X-Men: First Class, which are still going strong at the box office. But Warners is putting $100 million of marketing muscle behind the $200 million movie. An entire franchise is at stake. They're so confident that they introduce a new villain at the end. (Anyone who's read the comics already knows he's a bad guy.) Box office prognosticators are upbeat, predicting a $50 to 60 million weekend; so far the movie is off to a strong start on 3816 screens, 2711 of them 3-D.
While Green Lantern is better than its execrable trailer--Sony Imageworks' 3-D outer space digital worlds are well-crafted, and Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard bring life to the venerable comic characters (no one could have made Blake Lively's flier/business scion/girlfriend work)--the film falls flat with a too-familiar superhero origin story. It's coming late to the party. Will audiences feel comic-movie fatigue?
On the indie side of the ledger, it's a strong weekend for documentaries with Buck, Page One: Inside the New York Times and Hot Coffee opening, as well as indie The Art of Getting By, which despite a generally disappointed critical consensus, still has Leonard Maltin calling it "worthwhile," and South Korean film Late Autumn, which the Seattle Times says has "moments of real magic." Plenty more indies are showing at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Green Lantern, Warner Bros. | Dir: Martin Campbell; Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard | TOH! Review Round-up.
Late Autumn (South Korea) | Dir: Kim Tae-Yong; Cast: Tang Wei, Hyun Bin | indieWIRE | Moira Macdonald's Seattle Times Review: "it has moments of real magic, like the softly lit, quiet Market stalls at night (what setting could be more romantic?)."
Page One: Inside the New York Times, Magnolia Pictures (Doc) | Dir: Andrew Rossi | indieWIRE | Eric Kohn's Review: "Rossi captures the minutiae of the newsroom, from the rapid transcription of interviews to the rush of deadlines, as if observing an Olympic sport. That sort of energetic investment invites a sort of ideological loyalty and the witty Carr is constantly seen defending his employer’s credibility."
The Art of Getting By, Fox Searchlight | Dir: Gavin Wiesen; Cast: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser, Rita Wilson, Blair Underwood | At Sundance, Title Change | Soundtrack | Leonard Maltin's Review: "There are moments in The Art of Getting By that made me wince, especially toward the end; they betray the filmmaker’s lack of experience. But I found myself rooting for his two key characters, and enjoying Highmore and Roberts’ performances. That’s enough to make this little indie film worthwhile, warts and all." | indieWIRE interviews Emma Roberts.
Jig, Screen Media Films (Doc) | Dir: Sue Bourne | indieWIRE | Todd McCarthy's Review: "Jig is just one step up from reality TV show contests in terms of what it offers the viewer dramatically. Very nicely shot and scored, Sue Bourne's documentary confines itself to the predictable format of introducing a large array of contestants, generating a measure of rooting interest in them, then seeing how it all plays out in the tense competition, where the fruits of years of dedicated effort are decided in a brief moment in the spotlight."
Angel of Evil, Fortissimo Films (Italy/France)| Dir: Michele Placido; Cast: Kim Rossi Stuart, Filippo Timi, Moritz Bleibtreu, Valeria Solarino | indieWIRE |
Andy Webster's NYT Review: “Angel of Evil is bloody, yes, but loaded with generic action sequences, shouting matches and blustery sentiment. To borrow Robert Evans’s famous quotation about The Godfather, you can smell the spaghetti, but less sauce might have helped."