This week: Ryan Reynolds goes green, a pretentious art film does double duty as an excellent screen saver and three guys scheme to off their tyrannical bosses.
It's not easy being green, especially when you are playing the lesser superhero in a summer full of superior superhero flicks. We are told in the introduction that millions of years before the Earth was formed, the wise Guardians of the Universe harnessed the power of will to create an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lanterns Corps. Ryan Reynolds plays cocky test pilot Hal Jordan who is chosen to take a dying Lantern’s place as a protector of the sector in which Earth resides. His powerful ring allows Hal to fly, wraps him in a suit of green energy and enables him to create anything he wills from his mind.
Hal learns that one of the Guardians has fallen from grace and succumbed to the power of fear. Now called Parallax, this giant cloud of evil yellow energy makes its way to Earth to destroy it. Hal doubts his power to commit—as evidenced by his shaky relationship with fellow test pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively)—but can he pull it together before our world perishes in a sulfur-colored cloud of doom?
Superheroes are only as great as the villains they are up against: Darth Vader, the Joker, Dr. Octopus, Red Skull, Dr. Doom, etc. Although Peter Sarsgaard does his best as a doctor infected with Parallax’s evil energy, the real villain is Parallax itself—essentially a giant yellow CGI cloud with a mean face voiced by Clancy Brown. That's right—a mean cloud someone put together on a Mac. Scary.
Green Lantern is a special Friday home video release that is available on DVD, a barebones Blu-ray, a Blu-ray/DVD combo with digital copy and a combo with a Blu-ray 3D version as well. The Blu-ray contains an extended version of the movie that is nine minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Green Lantern is not the best superhero movie of the year by a long shot, but there is still some emerald-colored eye candy to be found on any of these editions.
Best extras: Both the standalone DVD and the Blu-ray contain deleted scenes and “Justice League #1 Digital Comic.” The Blu-ray includes the interactive Maximum Movie Mode, which includes picture-in-picture commentary, eight featurettes, character bios, galleries, storyboards and more. The BD also has “The Universe According to Green Lantern.”
Verdict: Rent Me
The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick's visually arresting experimental film is filled with beautiful images of nature, the cosmos, microbiology and even dinosaurs that are like moving pieces of artwork. Sandwiched in between is a non-linear kitchen-sink drama about the life journey of Jack O'Brien (played as an adult in the present day by Sean Penn), the eldest son of a broken Texas family. In the flashback sequences, Brad Pitt plays Jack's authoritative father, who, filled with regret after trading in his dream of becoming a career musician to work in a factory and support his family, raises his sons with all the delicacy and grace of a drill sergeant. This is in sharp contrast to Jack's mother, a shrinking violet who wants to instill in her boys a sense of wonder and love of nature.
The Tree of Life both frustrates and fascinates. In its own meandering, pretentious, quasi-religious way it explores the meaning of life through the eyes of one pretty typical family. Will watching ordinary people slog through ordinary life in an ordinary town fill you with existential wonder, as the director intends? That depends on your tolerance for avant-garde filmmaking and Malick's personal indulgences. One thing is certain: this is the kind of movie that gets people talking and one the Academy can't resist at Oscar time.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain the 30-minute documentary "Exploring The Tree of Life," which features interviews with Malick's collaborators and cast members as well as with two directors who appreciate his work: Christopher Nolan and David Fincher.
Verdict: Rent Me (and play me with the sound off as background art for your next party)
Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) play three buddies with one thing in common: they all hate their bosses and want them dead. Nick's boss (Kevin Spacey) is psychologically abusive and denies Nick a promotion, Dale is a dental assistant who is sexually harassed by his boss (Jennifer Aniston) on a daily basis, and Kurt is an accountant whose company has just been taken over by a coke-riddled, amoral douche (Colin Farrell).
Over drinks one night, the trio of friends commiserates and plots to kill each other's bosses. Watching the three bumble around town, try to hire a hit man and break into the homes of their respective bosses to gain info and put their toothbrushes in totally inappropriate orifices is good for some cheap giggles, but the black comedy never quite approaches The Hangover-caliber raunchiness even though it tries at every turn to make your draw drop.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain deleted scenes; the BD adds "My Least Favorite Career," "Surviving a Horrible Boss," "Being Mean Is So Much Fun" and making-of featurette of the movie's soundtrack.
Verdict: Rent Me
Also New This Week: Zookeeper, Beautiful Boy, Scrooge, The Family Man, Maniac Cop (BD), Terri, Zombie Diaries 2, Aspen Extreme (BD), Bones: The Complete Sixth Season and Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season