“RETURN TO CRANFORD” (2009) Review

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“RETURN TO CRANFORD” (2009) Review

Due to the success of the 2007 miniseries, “CRANFORD”, the BBC aired a two-part sequel called “RETURN TO CRANFORD” (also known as the “CRANFORD CHRISTMAS SPECIAL”), some two years later. Like the original miniseries, it was adapted by Heidi Thomas and directed by Simon Curtis. 

“RETURN TO CRANFORD” was based on material from Elizabeth Gaskell’s two novellas and a short story – “Cranford”,“The Mooreland Cottage”, and “The Cage at Cranford”, were all published between 1849 and 1863. Also, themes from“My Lady Ludlow”“Mr. Harrison’s Confessions”, and “The Last Generation in England” were included to provide continuity with the first miniseries. The new miniseries took place between August and December 1844. The citizens of Cranford find themselves facing major changes in their society, as the railroad continues to be constructed near the edge of town. In fact, I was surprised to learn that a great deal of the story surrounding the new railroad was not in any of Gaskell’s novellas and short story. Only the storylines featuring about Mrs. Jameson’s (Barbara Flynn) cousin, Lady Glenmire (Celia Imrie) and Captain Brown (Jim Carter), Miss Pole’s (Imelda Staunton) Parisian “cage” for her pet cockatoo, and a magician named Signor Brunoni (Tim Curry) putting on a show came from Gaskell’s works.

I have to be frank. It did not bother me that most of the material featured in the miniseries did not come from any of Gaskell’s novellas and short stories. Thanks to some decent writing by Heidi Thomas, I believe that it all worked out fine. Unlike the 2007 miniseries, “CRANFORD”, the screenplay for “RETURN TO CRANFORD” seemed tighter and more focused. In fact, I noticed that the majority of major storylines featured in the miniseries have ties to the main story about the railroad’s construction. Because of this, “RETURN TO CRANFORD” avoided the episodic style of storytelling that I believe marred “CRANFORD”. My favorite storyline featured the budding romance between two newcomers to the town of Cranford – William Buxton (Tom Hiddleston), the Eton-educated son of a salt baron (Jonathan Pryce) and Peggy Bell (Jodie Whittaker), the daughter of a less-affluent widow (Lesley Sharp). Mr. Buxton wants William to marry his ward, the Brussels-educated Erminia (Michelle Dockery). But neither are interested in each other. And Peggy has to deal with her ambitious and greedy brother, Edward (Matthew McNulty), who dislikes William. What I liked best about“RETURN TO CRANFORD” was that most of the storylines were tied to the new rail line being constructed near Cranford – even the William/Peggy romance.

As much as I hate to admit it, “RETURN TO CRANFORD” had its problems. Another storyline featured the problematic pregnancy suffered by Miss Matty’s maid, Martha Hearne (Claudie Blakley). The problem arose, due to the lack of doctors in Cranford. And I found this confusing. The 2007 miniseries ended with two doctors residing in the town – the recently married Dr. Frank Harrison and longtime resident Dr. Morgan. A year later, both no longer resided in Cranford and Heidi Thomas’ script never revealed their whereabouts or fate. Thomas’ real misstep featured the death of LadyLudlow (Francesca Annis) and the arrival of her ne’er-do-well son, Septimus (Rory Kinnear). The latter’s attempt to cheat young Harry Gregson (Alex Etel) out of the money he had inherited from the late Mr. Carter was a poorly conceived and written storyline. And despite the built-up, it failed to have any real impact upon the Harry Gregson character, due to its vague ending. As much as I found Signor Brunoni’s Christmas show rather charming, I thought it also reeked of a sentimentality that made my teeth hurt. Especially when Miss Matty’s reunion with Jem Hearne (Andrew Buchan) and his daughter entered the picture.

The production design for “RETURN TO CRANFORD” was top notch as ever. And Alison Beard’s supervision of the costumes proved to be just as first-rate as Jenny Beavan’s work in the 2007 miniseries. The cast continued its first-rate work from the previous miniseries – especially Judi Dench as Miss Matty Jenkyns, Imelda Staunton as town gossip Octavia Poole, Francesca Annis as the aristocratic Lady Ludlow, Emma Fielding as her assistant Laurentia Galindo, Alex Etel as Harry Gregson, Julia McKenzie as Mrs. Forrester, Jim Carter as Mr. Brown, Alex Jennings as the Reverend Hutton and Barbara Flynn as the pretentious Mrs. Jamieson. But the newcomers that impressed were Tom Huddleston as William Buxton, Jonathan Pryce as the tyrannical Mr. Buxton, Jodie Whittaker as Peggy Bell, Celia Imrie as the earthy Lady Glemire and Tim Curry as the warm-hearted magician Signor Brunoni.

For a while, I had been reluctant to watch “RETURN TO CRANFORD”. Because it was a sequel to the 2007 miniseries, I figured that it could never be as good as “CRANFORD”. I was wrong. I do not know if I would consider it better than the first miniseries. But the latter is certainly not better than the sequel. And ”RETURN TO CRANFORD” does have one major advantage . . . namely Heidi Thomas’ screenplay turned out to be more tightly written, due to her decision not to use much of Elizabeth Gaskell’s material. Personally, I find that rather ironic.

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Pioneer Cookery

Below are some recipes for dishes prepared by wagon train emigrants during the 19th century: 

PIONEER COOKERY

BUFFALO STEAK – Render some fat in a hot skillet. Add sirloin of buffalo steak and sear on both sides. At a lower heat, cook as beefsteak until done. For gravy, add a tablespoon of flour to the pan drippings and cook until brown. Stirring constantly, add a cup of milk and bring to a boil. Salt to taste.

BUFFALO JERKY – Slice buffalo meat along the grain into strips 1/8 inch thick, 1/2 inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long. Hang them on a rack in a pan and bake at 200 degrees until dry. To prepare outside, suspend them over a fire or drape them on bushes to dry in the sun.

FRIED CAKES – Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour with 1 cup of water. Mix well with a fork. Using plenty of flour on hands and a breadboard, roll out dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Roll into 2 inch balls or cut into 2 inch squares. Render beef fat in a skillet and add squares of dough. Brown slowly on both sides. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Makes about 20 cakes.

SODA BREAD – To make dough, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water, add 2 1/4 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Knead well. The dough may be used at once or allowed to rise overnight in a warm place. In either case, flatten dough to a thickness of 1 inch. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake (in a 400 degree overn) for about 25 minutes.

MORMON JOHNNYCAKE – Combine 2 cups of yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of molasses. Pour batter into a greased 9-inch pan and bake (in a 425 degree oven) for about 20 minutes. Cut into 16 squares. To make lighter cake; add 2 beaten eggs and 2 tablespoons of melted butter to buttermilk and cook about 25 minutes.

DRIED APPLE PIE – Soak 2 cups of dried apples in water overnight. Drain off the water and mix apples with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon each of allspice and cinnamon. Line an 8-inch pie pan with a crust, add the apple mixture, dot with 3 tablespoons of butter and cover with a second crust. Make a few slashes in the top for ventilation and bake (in a 350 degree oven) for about 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown.

If you know of any recipes from this era, let me know.

“Obssessions” [PG-13] – Chapter 8

“OBSSESSIONS”

Part 8

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sorry, short chapter.

It really was a shock finding his body like that,” Paige was saying. “You should have seen him. His eyes were bugged wide open. And his throat slit. He must have lost a lot of blood.” 

Barbara heaved a sigh. “Paige! Honey, must you go over the entire thing in such graphic details?” The Charmed One’s mouth formed a moue.

Nick, who had used his lunch break as an opportunity to visit Ostera’s, leaned against the store’s front counter. He said to Paige, “And you say that the body was inside a locked apartment?”

“Yep.” Paige nodded. “I even had to orb Phoebe and myself inside. Like I had told Barbara, we thought we heard voices from inside the apartment. Before we found the body. I mean, there was no way the killer could have gotten out without being seen by us, unless . . .”

Nick urged her to continue. “Unless what?”

“Unless some supernatural force was involved. Only what demon or warlock would want this guy dead?”

Barbara handed over purchased goods inside a plastic bag, over to Nick. “Maybe they were supernatural gay bashers,” she commented.

“Gay bashers?” Nick frowned. “This guy was gay?”

Paige added, “According to Phoebe.”

For the first time, Nick understood Portia’s failure to seduce the columnist. DeWolfe Mann obviously had no interest in anyone of the opposite sex. Including a succubus. Perhaps her male counterpart – an incubus – would have done the trick. “Who knew?” he muttered under his breath.

Unfortunately, Barbara overheard him. “Knew what?” she asked.

“Uh . . . DeWolfe Mann. I uh, I’ve heard of him. I just didn’t realize that he was . . . you know.”

“Honey, this is San Francisco. Location of the biggest gay community in the world. DeWolfe Mann’s sexual preference shouldn’t have been that surprising. Maybe finding a heterosexual partner in this city.”

Nick merely responded with a wan smile. Who could argue with the truth?

* * * *

Employees of the SAN FRANCISCO BAY-MIRROR took the news of DeWolfe Mann’s murder with great shock. The portly columnist had seemed like the last person who would meet with a violent death. Mann had struck the others as too remote and disciplined to incite another to kill him. But once everyone had accepted the news, many began to express possible motives behind his murder.

The sports columnist Gunther Weiss, whom Olivia had once met, remembered that Mann had been a homosexual. “Clearly a case of gay bashing,” he declared to the redheaded inspector. “Hasn’t gay bashing been on the rise, lately? At least that’s what I’ve heard. And Mann had never bothered to hide his homosexuality.”

Olivia regarded the sports columnist with a speculative eye. “Gay bashing? Inside his apartment? Hmmm. Perhaps. But such cases usually involve some kind of physical assault or beating. There were no signs of a struggle inside Mr. Mann’s apartment.”

“But didn’t some neighbor report a disturbance inside the apartment?” Weiss asked.

Shaking her head, Olivia replied, “Actually, a Mrs. Patio had reported hearing someone banging on Mr. Mann’s apartment door. A woman. She didn’t say anything about a disturbance from inside.” Yet, despite Olivia’s arguments, Weiss seemed convinced that DeWolfe Mann had been a victim of gay bashing.

Another staff reporter, also aware of Mann’s sexual preference, offered another theory. That a lover had murdered Mann in a jealous fit. She seemed slightly disappointed when Darryl explained that the dead columnist had not been involved with anyone for nearly a year.

In the end, it was Phoebe who provided the information that they needed. “Paige and I were the ones who were overheard by that neighbor last night,” she confessed. Darryl heaved a sigh and surreptiously closed the door to her office. “I had a premonition of Wolfie being killed. Unfortunately,” she added in a remorseful tone, “Paige and I didn’t get to him on time.”

“You and Paige.” Darryl frowned. He then shook his head. “So you two had originally discovered his body.”

Phoebe nodded. “I think I had heard voices from inside his apartment, before we found him. One of them belonged to a woman, I think. But once Paige and I orbed inside, we only found Wolfie’s body and no one else. And in my premonition, I saw a man’s hand slit his throat.”

“Are you saying there’s a supernatural connection to Mr. Mann’s death?” Olivia asked.

“How else can you explain voices from behind a closed door? And just before we found his body?”

Before Olivia could reply, the door swung open and in walked Jason Dean. “Phoebe, are you free on . . .?” He took one look at the visitors and paused. “Oh. I see you’re with the police.”

Olivia greeted her former boyfriend with a polite smile. “Hi Jace. It’s nice to see you, too.” To her amusement, the young publisher stiffened with discomfort.

Tension filled the office like thick fog. “Jason,” Phoebe began, “you remember Olivia, don’t you?”

Jason nodded uneasily. “Yeah, it’s nice to see you, Olivia.” He glanced at Darryl. “And you’re Darryl, right? Darryl Morris?”

Darryl warmly shook the other man’s hand. “Nice to see you, again.”

The publisher suddenly became more business-like. “So, what can you tell me about this murder?”

Maintaining a polite smile, Darryl explained that he and Olivia had just been assigned to the case, this morning. “And I’m afraid that we can’t disclose any information without the Department’s authorization, at the moment. Or without Ms. Mann’s.”

A frown darkened Jason’s countenance. Olivia recognized that look. It usually hinted Jason’s stubborn inability to accept that some matters were beyond his control. “But as Mr. Mann’s employer, surely I have a right . . .”

Olivia heaved a long and frustrated sigh. Out loud. “Jason. Please accept the fact that we cannot tell you everything. You’ll just have to wait until we make our knowledge public like everyone else.”

Jason struggled to hide his disappointment. And Olivia struggled to keep from smirking. God, she must really be evil.Finally, Jason assumed a polite mask. “Well. I guess I will. Excuse me.” He started to turn away.

“Before you leave, Jace,” Olivia said, barely keeping her amusement in check, “we have a few questions to ask you about Mr. Mann. Is there a time when you’ll be available?” She gave him a sweet smile.

“Uh . . .questions?” Jason shook his head. “What can I tell you? Mann was a columnist and I’m the paper’s publisher. I usually don’t deal with my writers.” Both Olivia and Darryl glanced at an uncomfortable-looking Phoebe. “Except on a personal basis, of course.”

Olivia and Darryl’s eyes met. “Uh, Mr. Dean,” Darryl began, “I understand that you tend to be a hands-on publisher. You know, deal with your staff, personally.” From underneath her lashes, Olivia’s noticed Phoebe’s growing discomfort.

“Who told you that?” Jason demanded.

Darryl hesitated before he coolly answered, “Mr. Mann’s sister. And his attorney.”

“Cole?” Phoebe said, sitting upright.

Nodding, Darryl continued, “Actually, both he and Ms. Mann had informed us about Mr. Dean’s direct involvement in the paper’s editorial process.” He faced Jason. “Which apparently had led to clashes between you and Mr. Mann. So much so that according to his attorney, Mr. Turner, he had made plans to leave this paper.”

“He can’t!” Jason protested. He flushed slightly, obviously realizing he had spoken in the wrong tense. “What I meant was Mann wouldn’t have been able to leave just like that. He had a five-year contract and had only been with the BAY-MIRROR for three years.”

Olivia spoke up. “But according to . . . Mr. Turner, Mr. Mann was only obliged to work for three years. After that, he had the option to leave if and when he wanted. Apparently, Mr. Mann had been approached by the CHRONICLE.” Poor Jason. He looked as if an oncoming truck had struck him without warning. At least Deborah Mann had been wrong about his possible knowledge of Mann’s attempted defection.

“Jason didn’t know about this,” Phoebe cried, coming to her boyfriend’s defense. “Isn’t it obvious?”

Darryl calmly replied, “We understand, Phoe . . . Ms. Halliwell. We simply have to explore all possibilities in this investigation.” He said to Jason, “And I’d like to add my thanks, Mr. Dean, for your cooperation.”

A grunt left Jason’s mouth as he nodded. Then he turned on his heels and left the office. Probably to check the contracts of his surviving columnists, Olivia sourly surmised. She and Darryl found themselves facing another outburst from Phoebe. “Was that really necessary?” she demanded angrily. “Attacking Jason like that?”

“C’mon Phoebe!” Darryl protested. “We were only doing our jobs.”

Olivia added, “So far, Jason is the only one who seems like a potential suspect.”

“And I bet that Cole was more than happy to give you that little information about Jason and Wolfie,” Phoebe spit out.

Darryl sighed. “Actually, he only told us about the contract and the job offer. It was Deborah Mann who told us about the bad blood between Mann and Jason.”

Phoebe insisted, “He didn’t do it. Jason, I mean.”

Gee! Talk about standing by one’s man. “Phoebe, we realize that now,” Olivia reassured the Charmed One. “Don’t worry.” She paused. “However, we . . . well, I was wondering if you and Paige would return to Mann’s apartment. See if you can get a premonition of his killer.”

Darryl stared at his partner in horror. “Are you kidding? How in the hell do you expect us to explain that we solved the case using magic? Especially if this comes to trial?”

“Look Darryl, I’m sure that we’ll find a way. It’s just . . . well, haven’t you noticed something odd about this case? The body was found in a locked room. And Phoebe heard voices – including a woman’s voice – before she and Paige had orbed inside the apartment. I don’t know about you, but I find that very odd.”

Phoebe added, “But it was a man who had killed Wolfie. At least a masculine hand.”

Olivia nodded. “Right. Look, if Phoebe can find out who did it, all we have to do is collect the evidence to convict . . . him.”

“But we have the button,” Darryl protested. “That would easily convict the guy.”

“Unless he turns out to be supernatural.” Olivia paused. “Instead of arresting him, we might have to vanquish him.”

Darryl’s eyes rolled northward. “Great! Whatever happened to the good old days of a simple homicide?”

* * * *

Two days later, Nick burst into his apartment in a state of giddiness. “Eureka! Guess what I have?” he said to his guest.

A bored-looking Portia glanced up from the glossy fashion magazine she was reading. “Anything that will get me out of this dreadful place, I hope.”

Ignoring the barb, Nick thrust another magazine into her face. A magazine titled, “JOBS TODAY”. It was a weekly periodical that advertised white-collar jobs in the Bay Area. “Turn to page 12,” he suggested.

Portia frowned at the Streghore, before flipping through the magazine. “What are you talk . . .” She paused. Her eyes grew wide. “Oh. A position is being advertised.”

“That’s right,” Nick added. He sat next to Portia. “A position as food columnist for the SAN FRANCISCO BAY-MIRROR. DeWolfe Mann’s old job is being offered. And you can apply for it on Monday.”

“Why not tomorrow?”

Nick quickly replied, “Tomorrow is Saturday. Mann’s editor probably won’t be there, until Monday.”

The succubus leaned back against the sofa and sighed. “Finally! I was beginning to fear that I would be stuck here, forever.” Nick tried not to look crestfallen. And as usual – when faced with personal criticism – he failed. Portia noticed. “Oh please! Do not take my words, personally. I am simply not used to such . . . cramped living conditions. I need a bigger place to stay. Like a hotel suite.” Her eyes brightened. “I know.” She snapped her fingers.

Within an instant, Nick found himself standing in an alley, next to a tall building. Along with his suitcase. “What the . . . where are we?”

“Outside the Omni Hotel on Nob Hill,” Portia explained. Three suitcases surrounded her. “I’ve decided to stay here during the remainder of my stay in San Francisco.”

Nick cried out, “Are you . . . how in the hell do you expect me to pay for a room at the Omni? It’s one of the city’s most exclusive hotels!”

Portia rolled her eyes. “For heaven’s sake! I will deal with the payment. Now, pick up my bags and we’ll check in.”

“But . . .” The succubus gave him a warning look. “Never mind.” Nick sighed and picked up all four suitcases with a great deal of difficulty.”

“Here, I will help you.” Portia plucked one suitcase – the smallest – from Nick’s grasp. “Cheer up,” she continued. “Once we’ve checked in, we will do a little shopping. And come Monday, I will go to the offices of this BAY-MIRROR. It shouldn’t be a problem. And within a few days, Bruce McNeill will be dead. And you will have your witch.”

That was something to look forward to, Nick grumbled silently. And he followed Portia toward the hotel’s entrance, while struggling with three suitcases.

END OF PART 8

Dropping “THE GOOD WIFE”

DROPPING “THE GOOD WIFE”

I am dropping “THE GOOD WIFE” Here is why:

After watching “Another Ham Sandwich”, I have decided to drop “THE GOOD WIFE”. That last episode and the fans’ reaction to it made my skin crawl.

It was very uncomfortable to watch two African-American female characters being portrayed as the villains of this episode. But what really turned me off was the fans’ reactions. Many of them reacted as if both Wendy Scott-Carr and Dana Lodge were two people who deserved to get their comeuppance. Was the idea of black females in their positions so offensive to them?

Why did they ignore Peter Florrick’s decision to put the investigation in motion? Why did they ignore his confession that estranged wife Alicia Florrick’s affair with Will Gardner led him to green light the investigation? Why did they ignore that Cary Agos probably told Wendy Scott-Carr of his suspicions regarding Alicia’s affair – something he has harbored since Season One? Why did he tell Scott-Carr about his suspicions in the first place? Why did the fans ignore that Alicia’s decision to sleep with Will without even filing for divorce got her into this situation in the first place? Or that she was too gutless to tell her kids about her affair with Will?

Instead, the fans gloated over Scott-Carr’s defeat inside the courtroom and Dana’s realization that she had been played by investigator Kalinda Sharma with a relish that bordered on exaggeration. Why did they do that? Did racism and a little sexism played parts in their reactions? I suspect so. And why did Robert and Michelle King portrayed both Scott-Carr and Dana in such a negative light?

I am simply too disgusted to continue watching this series.

“GREEN LANTERN” (2011) Review

“GREEN LANTERN” (2011) Review

Green seemed to be the dominate colors regarding costumed crime fighters this year. The year 2011 marked the end of the television series, “SMALLVILLE”, which featured Superman’s colleague, the Green Arrow. Last January saw the release of “THE GREEN HORNET”, starring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou. And just recently, Warner Brothers Studios released their adaptation on the DC Comics superhero, the Green Lantern. 

Directed by Martin Campbell, “THE GREEN LANTERN” told the story of a hotshot test pilot for Ferris Aircraft named Hal Jordan, who becomes the Green Lantern . . . or one of them. Before Earth was formed, a group of beings called the Guardians of the Universe used the green essence of willpower to create an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. One such Green Lantern, Abin Sur defeated a fear-essence being Parallax and imprisoned him in the Lost Sector on the ruined planet Ryut. However, Parallax eventually escapes from his prison, kills four Green Lanterns and destroys two planets. After Parallax mortally wounds Abin Sur. Dying, the latter crashes on Earth and commands his Green Lantern ring to find a worthy successor.

Hal Jordan is chosen by the ring and transported to the crash site, where Abin Sur appoints him a Green Lantern, by telling him to take the lantern and speak the oath. At home he says the oath of the Green Lanterns while under trance from the glow of the lantern. Hal is whisked away to the Green Lantern Corps home planet of Oa, where he meets and trains with Tomar-Re and Kilowog. He encounters Corps leader Sinestro, who is not pleased that a human, which is primitive compared to other species, has become a Green Lantern. Meanwhile, scientist Hector Hammond is summoned by his father, Senator Robert Hammond to a secret government facility to perform an autopsy on Abin Sur’s body. A piece of Parallax from inside the corpse inserts itself inside Hector, mutating the latter and giving him telepathic and telekinetic abilities . . . at the cost of his sanity. Throughout the movie, Hal not only has to deal with his private insecurities and fears about being a Green Lantern; the uneasy state of his relationship with his boss/ex-girlfriend, Carol Ferris; and most importantly, the increasingly dangerous Hector and Parallax, who is slowly making its way toward Earth.

Unfortunately for “GREEN LANTERN”, it flopped at the box office. Because of its $200 million budget, it is considered one of the biggest failures of the summer and a major embarrassment for Warner Brothers. The critics tore the film apart before it even reached the movie theaters. And a good number of moviegoers stayed away in droves. In fact, its failure reminded me of what happened to “SPEED RACER” back in 2008, another Warner Brothers release. Pity. Because I enjoyed “GREEN LANTERN” and thought it was a pretty solid adaptation of the famous comic book hero.

Now “GREEN LANTERN” was not the best superhero movie that I have ever seen. The movie’s plot struck me as one of those typical superhero origins tale that every fan of this type of movie genre has to . . . well, endure. Some of these origins have managed to knock my socks off. “GREEN LANTERN” failed to do so. And I do have a major complaint about the screenplay written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg. I thought it had failed to form a stronger connection . . . or relationship between the infected Hector Hammond and Parallax. The two characters only shared one scene and seemed over pretty damn quick.

But I do believe that the critics’ enmity was undeserved. “GREEN LANTERN” provided plenty of drama, laughs, action and special effects. The screenwriters did a great job in developing Hal Jordan’s character, allowing actor Ryan Reynolds plenty of dramatic meat to show off his acting skills. The screenplay also provided some strongly written supporting characters – especially Carol Ferris, Sinestro, and Hector Hammond, who was provided a strong subplot involving his relationship with his father. And aside from my disappointment over the Hector-Parallax connection, I thought the screenwriters did an excellent job in providing a strong connection between Hal’s personal demons, his introduction to the Green Lantern Corps and the dangers of Parallax.

The behind-the-scenes production for “GREEN LANTERN” struck me as outstanding. I was very impressed. Felicity Browning lead a team that provided first rate makeup for some of the cast. I was especially impressed by their work on Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, and even Ryan Reynolds’ eyes, while in his Green Lantern garb. But Grant Major’s production designs for both the planet of Oa really blew me away. I believe the visual effects supervised by Jim Berney and special effects by John S. Baker probably helped. Not only was I impressed by the designs and effects featured in the Oa sequences, but also the design of Parallax, which freaked me out a bit.

As I had earlier pointed out, the movie’s screenwriters did a solid job in their characterization of Hal, making him a complex and interesting character. But it would have never worked without Ryan Reynolds, who not only provided his trademark wit to his performance, but also provided Hal with a great deal of pathos and complexity. Reynolds also created great chemistry with his co-star Blake Lively. I had been very impressed by her performance in last year’s movie, “THE TOWN”. And her performance as Hal’s ex-girlfriend, boss and fellow test pilot, Carol Ferris; only proved that my original opinion of her acting talents was not a fluke. She still managed to be very impressive.

Ever since I saw him in “JARHEAD”, I have been a fan of Peter Sarsgaard. His portrayal of Hector Hammond, the insecure senator’s son and scientist, has made me into an even bigger fan. I think it was a testament to Sarsgaard’s acting talent that he allowed Hector to remain a sympathetic character, despite his transformation into a villain from the Parallax infection. And it has been a while since I have seen Mark Strong portray a good guy – three years to be exact. For me, his portrayal of fellow Green Lantern Sinestro, was spot on . . . and a breath of fresh air. Both Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins provided solid support as government scientist Dr. Waller and Hector’s father, Senator Robert Hammond. Mind you, I found nothing remarkable about Bassett’s role, which is not surprising, thanks to the screenwriters. But it was interesting to see Robbins portray a somewhat smarmy personality, who seemed more interested in his son’s ambitions (or lack of) than in his son.

Look, “GREEN LANTERN” may not be the one of the best comic book hero movies ever made. And it does not strike me as one of the most original I have ever seen. But I do not believe it deserved the harsh words that many movie critics dumped on it. Thanks to the behind-the-scenes production, Martin Campbell’s direction and the cast led by Ryan Reynolds, I thought that “GREEN LANTERN” turned out to be a solid and entertaining film.