The Reel Deal


Quick Takes on Three Films

Film Insight by Tyler Malone

July 2011


Reel Rating: 1 out of 5

Seeing a movie like The Green Lantern makes me really appreciate a movie like Thor. Thor wasn’t the best of Summer superhero blockbusters, but it wasn’t half-bad. After giving it a 3 out of 5 earlier this year when I reviewed it, I had a conversation with a friend about it. He told me: “When you talk about it, you don’t sound like you liked it much, and yet you gave it a 3 Reel Rating, which isn’t that bad of a score.” After that conversation, I was second guessing myself: did I rate it too high? Would a 2 or 2.5 have been more appropriate? After all, I didn’t particularly like the movie Thor at all, though I didn’t particularly dislike it either. It just was. Watching The Green Lantern was all I needed to snap myself back, to reassure myself that I knew what I was talking about when I gave Thor 3 Reels. Thor is even more ridiculous of a superhero concept than The Green Lantern, and yet Thor was handled “admirably,” if not exactly “successfully.” The Green Lantern is a mess from the moment the movie begins. To find a less likable couple (to play a superhero and love interest) than Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, and one with less chemistry, would be a difficult task. But what is astonishing is that they aren’t the reason that this film is the absolute catastrophe that it is. Trust me, for how much I dislike Ryan Reynolds as an actor, I’d love to blame this mess on him, but it is the writing that really deserves most of the credit for why this is an absolute stinker. And the directing and editing don’t help much either. If you really feel compelled to see a superhero flick this month, wait a couple weeks for Captain America. I haven’t seen it yet, of course, but I can’t imagine it will be anywhere near as bad as this.


Reel Rating: 4 out of 5

I’ve got issues with Steven Spielberg. I think he is the most overrated filmmaker of all time. That doesn’t make him the worst–no, he has a handful of phenomenal films–but they aren’t necessarily the ones he is constantly praised for. I’ve always argued that Spielberg is one of the best directors of rip-roaring family fun entertainment: think Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hook, etc. What I don’t like are his “artsy” films, which I think show a complete lack of artistry, and an inability to handle subtlety and nuance. In my humble opinion, Schindler’s List gets bogged down by its sentimental schlock (a sincere attempt though ultimately misguided as it veers into melodrama); Saving Private Ryan, though not bad, is the poor man’s The Thin Red Line (both came out in the same year and Spielberg’s film is obviously the lesser of the two); and Amistad is so dreadfully boring and wrongheaded that it borders on unwatchable. Spielberg is too over-the-top; he’s got too much cheesiness. He wants to be an artist, but he is merely an entertainer. There’s nothing wrong with that, if he’d only accept it. Do we really need the swelling John Williams music, the “I could have saved more” speech, the entirely one-dimensional Germans and the completely unsubtle red dress in Schindler’s List? Cheesiness, and faux-artistry, don’t sit well with me when found in a Holocaust film. They’re perfectly palatable in a popcorn blockbuster though, and so Spielberg in the 80s, before he took himself seriously as an artist/auteur, wins my respect (with mild reservation), but Spielberg’s later attempts at seriousness, at intellectualism, at artistry earn my eye-rolls, sighs and guffaws. I have often thought: I want a classic Spielberg film again–an 80s Spielberg. I always wanted to see Spielberg go back and have some fun again; then I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and realized he’d never direct the kind of movie I wanted him to direct, ever again. All that is to say: Super 8 is as close as I’m going to get to classic Spielberg. It isn’t a perfect film, but it is an interesting tribute. In this homage to the Spielberg years I like, J. J. Abrams, with Spielberg on as producer, hits the exact note of those early Spielberg films: fun, heartfelt, with perhaps a little too much sentimentality and a little lack of subtlety (but that’s part of the homage, that’s Spielberg). It works for the most part. It is Goonies meets Close Encounters of Third Kind, though not as good as either of those 80s popcorn classics. As far as family fun goes though, it’s probably the best this Summer has offered so far, and maybe the best it will offer all season.


Reel Rating: 1 out of 5

What can I say about Bad Teacher? Should I joke that the title would be more accurate if it left off the second word? Should I write about how painful it was to sit through the whole thing (even though it isn’t even that long of a movie)? Should I try and remember if there was even one joke that actually got a laugh out of me? Should I go on about how I shouldn’t have to contemplate whether or not I laughed at all when I leave a “comedy”? Should I mention that “tragedy” is a more apt description of this film than “comedy”? Should I even talk about how bad the writing, directing and acting is (or is that self-evident)? Should I wonder aloud why Cameron Diaz even tries anymore? Should I mention that this film undoes all the work SNL has put into trying to get me to ever describe Justin Timberlake as funny? Should I plead that someone should give Jason Segel better roles? Should I beg Hollywood to stop playing to our lowest common denominator and making these shitty shitty shitty movies? Or should I just be happy it was better than “Sucker Punch” & “Atlas Shrugged” (even if just slightly) and call it a day?

The Green Lantern is a film directed by Martin Campbell, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It stars Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard. In it, a test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

Super 8 is a film written and directed by J. J. Abrams. It stars Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka and Kyle Chandler. After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town, and begin to investigate into the creepy phenomenon.

Bad Teacher is a film directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. It stars Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake. It is a comedy centered around a foul-mouthed, junior high teacher who, after being dumped by her sugar daddy, begins to woo a colleague–a move that pits her against a well-loved teacher.


IMDB: The Green Lantern

IMDB: Super 8

IMDB: Bad Teacher

Reel Deal Quick Takes Written by Tyler Malone

Picture Courtesy of Warner Bros. and

Design by Jillian Mercado

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