Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Redemption of Ryan Reynolds

When Green Lantern was released, Ryan Reynolds became a pariah because of the awfulness of the film. But does he deserve it? No. 
 
And I’ll tell you why after the click.

If you haven’t seen the Green Lantern movie, then in the name of the Guardians of the Universe and everything Golden Age, please keep it that way. It stars Ryan Reynolds as a proper cocky, sociopathic boy scout of a fighter pilot. For literally some reasons, he is chosen to be the new bearer of a device so powerful with science that it’s basically just a magic ring. With this ring comes the responsibility to be the space-cop of this entire space-block, his authority stemming from the aforementioned Guardians of the Universe (self-appointed).

Comic book movies have been making ridiculous ideas become grounded reality for several years now; Toby McGuire as Peter Parker is a realistic Spiderman, Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne is the  grittiest Batman ever realised onscreen.

Don't you understand Robin? My parents are quite literally DEEAAAAAAD!!!

Even the Fantastic Four and Superman have been brought down to the level of us normal mortals. The ancient culture of space-Vikings living on the inside of an alien planet, having long-ago visited Earth via a rainbow-Einstein-Rosen portal-bridge-wormhole-thing whilst fighting with an ancient race of ICE GIANTS is more believable than Ryan Reynolds as a simple interstellar policeman. Even Nicholas Cage was a more convincing Ghost Rider.

“BLARARHGHARGHARG” – Such compelling drama!

This is why large sections of the geek community hate Ryan Reynolds. He did to Green Lantern what 50 years, numerous reinventions, reincarnations and countless hundreds of villains couldn’t: making the iconic Green Lantern into a joke. It might also worryingly mean no more Ryan Reynolds.

I’ve been told he was in the X-Files (somehow I missed it despite my avid fandom of Mulder). I’ve been told he was in a Sabrina the Teenage Witch film. IMDB tells me he was also in the Outer Limits during the 90s. I first remember seeing him in Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place. Then he was Van Wilder: Party Liaison and I was getting a bad feeling. You know he got off with Tara Reid during that film, at least onscreen? The next time I saw him, he was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, playing Wade Wilson aka Deadpool, infamous breaker of the fourth wall. A proper anarchic, hilarious, amoral fan favourite and a lover of duct tape.


Ryan didn’t do as well as I’d have liked, but he did pretty well. The next thing I knew, he had ruined Green Lantern:


That whole trailer looked SO EPIC. But then he said the words “I know right?” and everything seemed tainted. That was how the whole film went.

That was the Ryan Reynolds trajectory for most of us. Confirmed goof and fool, from film to film. But in 2010, between X-Men and Green Lantern (along with a half dozen other films that also never registered on my limited radar) he was in the film Buried. If you’ve never seen it, here’s the damn trailer:

This trailer also looks pretty epic. But while the Green Lantern trailer sold the film, the trailer for Buried made this film seem cheap and awful. Like something made for tabloid sensationalism. It’s not. We literally spend the entire film with him inside this box – it’s tense, emotional and viscerally, uncomfortably honest.

It’s one of the most minimalist blockbuster films ever made. No flash-backs to his happy American life, no scenes of anyone on the outside. It’s just Ryan, who exists in this box, in darkness and completely convincing desperation, for the entire film. I can’t stress that enough. It is, in short, a masterpiece. I challenge you to sit through the first half hour alone and not start to suspect the same.

Even Ryan himself apparently stated that towards the end that he was suffering from claustrophobia. IMDB quotes him as saying that the last day of shooting was “unlike anything I experienced in my life, and I never ever want to experience that again.” You have to see the film, because I’m not going to spoil it for you, unlike Flesh Gordon or Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders which I will happily spoil for everyone, ever (go click those links and read those posts).

If the film Phone Booth was the way Colin Farrell became interesting, then this is the way that Ryan Reynolds should have become legendary. In the name of the Guardians it is very genuinely excellent. I hope that his portrayal of Green Lantern is forgotten as just another paycheck, and that his performance in Buried is somehow remembered as his legacy.
Green Lantern is incredibly horrible fiction, but Buried is a kind of horribly credible truth. In a major way, Ryan Reynolds helped to make that truth.

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