Feature: Ryan Reynolds
Warner Bros seems a little nervous about Green Lantern. Usually studios like to tease us with as little information as possible about upcoming blockbusters, the way the same studio did with Inception, for example.
So is it a mark of confidence in the material, or panic, that accounts for the eight (eight!!) clips the studio released to the internet last week? It’s a strategy that worked well for Borat a few years back, but in that case the gags were self-sufficient, you really didn’t need any dramatic context to laugh at Sacha Baron Cohen making a monkey of a bunch of rednecks. The released clips from Green Lantern don’t have that same viral, must-Like feel. And at the same time, the studio is keeping the critics away from the movie for as long as possible. That can’t be a good sign.
On the other hand, at least it is building awareness. Comic book geeks may be excited about it, but Green Lantern doesn’t have the name-recognition of Batman, Superman, or even Iron Man. And unlike Thor, which made room for Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins to back up newcomer Chris Hemsworth, the marquee value falls squarely on the shoulders of Ryan Reynolds, who plays test pilot Hal Jordan, the latest recruit in the intergalactic Green Lantern peacekeeping brigade.
Maybe Warner executives are right to worry: the last time the 34-year-old Canadian played a superhero, the movie grossed just $13,514…
Okay, Captain Excellent in the low budget indie Paper Man may not be a fair point of comparison – it only played on three screens across North America and went straight to DVD here. But the point is, Reynolds is not box office proven. He has appeared in two movies that grossed over $100 million in the US, Wolverine and The Proposal. Not so coincidentally, both came out shortly before he nabbed this role from under the noses of Bradley Cooper and Justin Timberlake.
But the first hit was driven by Hugh Jackman and the X-Men franchise, and the second was primarily Sandra Bullock’s show. After that, you have to go all the way back to the 2005 Amityville Horror remake to find anything in Reynolds’ filmography that a rival studio executive would call a hit ($107 million worldwide). And the budget for Green Lantern? Something in the region of $150 million, plus marketing. Looking at those whopping Hangover Part II numbers, it must have crossed somebody’s mind that maybe they should have gone with Bradley Cooper.
That said; I like Reynolds. He’s almost too handsome to appeal to male moviegoers, which may be why he often plays smug narcissists, but his comic timing is always just so, and he’s shown richer shading when pushed, in films like The Nines and Adventureland.
And then there is Buried. Squeezed in before his six-month spell on Green Lantern, the $1 million Spanish claustrophobic thriller speaks to the actor’s adventurousness. Shooting in a box all day for two and a half weeks can’t have been easy, but Reynolds put himself through the wringer and proved that he has more to offer.
After years of making the best of not very good material his upcoming slate has taken on a decidedly A-list look: a body switch comedy with Jason Bateman and the director of Wedding Crashers (The Change Up); a thriller with Denzel Washington and Vera Farmiga (The Safe House); and a reteaming with Sandra Bullock (Most Wanted). With a possible Wade Wilson/X-Men movie in the works and the potential for several Green Lantern sequels, Mr Reynolds seems to be sitting pretty.
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