2011’s most colourful hero

Cert: 12A

IN yet another comic book adaptation Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a vain, daredevil pilot who would be happy saving the world in only his pants. Having been chosen as the next “Green Lantern”, his mission is to stop the evil alien Parallax from taking over the universe by using the benevolent power of “will” against the opposing force of “fear”.

Reynolds does a decent job going from arrogant lothario to likeable hero, pouting his way through the cheeky dialogue. He is capable of pulling off a performance of greater depth than he is afforded here – perhaps the producers realised that few audience members will be able to concentrate on his face – this is about ripped abs.

In addition to the absence of a meaty personal struggle, it’s a shame that Peter Sarsgaard’s creepy turn as the depraved xenobiologist isn’t given more space. In recent years we have been spoiled by Batman films’ captivating interplay between leads and villains, but that never really materialises here.

Despite these flaws and the obligatory underdeveloped female lead (Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively), the film stands up as an entertaining, action-packed summer blockbuster with special effects that far outstrip the writing. A sequence after the closing credits suggests a sequel is in the offing.
Hayley Wright

Cert: 12a

NO wonder Mel Gibson’s gone off the rails. One minute his character is hearing voices in the forgettable comedy What Women Want, next he’s chronically depressed and having sex with a puppet strapped to his arm in this film. The question is whether the Beaver can restore his cinematic reputation?

The answer is no. In this train wreck Gibson plays executive Walter Black, a long-term depressive who suddenly becomes empowered by communicating through a puppet beaver in a ghastly mockney accent. It’s not funny, it’s not clever and the tone is so horribly confused that at points it’s like watching a striptease to the sound of the Funeral March.

Anton Yelchin, best known for the recent Star Trek and Terminator films, makes a valiant effort as Gibson’s estranged son, but even some of his scenes with fellow dysfunctional teen Jennifer Lawrence smack of cringeworthy sentimentality. As director and co-star, Jodie Foster must shoulder most of the blame. Not least because the film manages to trivialise mental illness by failing to examine why Walter gets himself into such a desperate state in the first place.

Still, Gibson must be pleased to have nabbed the role after people like Jim Carrey and Steve Carell had reportedly turned it down. The beaver must also have been chuffed to usurp the, er, bag of talking poo which the writer originally intended to be the vehicle for Walter’s mental liberation. No really. The latter is really a better metaphor for this film, and, let’s face it, dear old Mel’s career these days.

Cert: 15

IT’S certainly refreshing to see Cameron Diaz in a role to relish these days, after the dreck she’s been starring in of late, like Knight and Day and the Box. Diaz has always had more to offer than mere looks, as her Shrek voiceovers and films like Gangs of New York and Being John Malkovich suggested, but that seemed to have been forgotten.

Here she shows that sharp comic timing is still in her arsenal, playing a monstrously irresponsible beeyatch of a teacher – a woman more interested in drinking, smoking pot and getting together funds for a boob job (with which to snare a rich husband after her sugar daddy fiancé dumped her) than leading her students towards enlightenment.

That all changes when Justin Timberlake’s goody-two-shoes supply teacher and heir to a fortune enters the frame, and Diaz’s character, Elizabeth Halsey, spots husband material. Meanwhile, Jason Segel’s sports teacher is for some reason carrying a torch for her, while a rival teacher played by the talented Brit actress Lucy Punch stands in the way of sealing the deal with Timberlake’s pious dork.

There’s lots of fun to be had here, though the material is uneven and nowhere near as deliciously cynical as the vastly superior Billy Bob Thornton film, Bad Santa. Some of the jokes fall flat, and sometimes they’re simply too few and far between. But as a reminder of just how good Cameron Diaz can be, this is worth catching.
Timothy Barber