June 18 (Bloomberg) -- After receiving a green ring from a dying purple alien, test pilot Hal Jordan struggles to recite an oath that will activate the ring’s powers and allow him, among other things, to fly.
Jordan’s alter ego is the title character in “Green Lantern,” which likewise strains to take off. While the superhero eventually soars, the movie remains grounded by an incomprehensible plot, cardboard characters and over-reliance on computer-generated spectacles.
“Green Lantern” brings us closer to the seeming goal of turning every comic-book icon into a film franchise. Yet, even with the brainpower of four screenwriters and noted action director Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale,” “The Mask of Zorro”), it adds virtually nothing fresh to the genre.
Ryan Reynolds, who plays Jordan and Green Lantern, has a sculpted physique that looks terrific in that skintight green uniform and mask. His acting is as thin as his outfit.
Unless you’re a hard-core Green Lantern fan, you’ll probably be baffled by the Guardians of the Universe (an interstellar police force), Oa (the planet where the Guardians live), Kilowag (a towering, porcine-faced alien) and Parallax (an evil, blob-like monster).
All you really need to know is that the Green Lantern and Parallax are headed for an intergalactic showdown while Jordan plays footsie with his sometimes-lover Carol (Blake Lively), a fellow pilot at her father’s aircraft company.
Tim Robbins plays a slick politician whose son Hector (a hammy Peter Sarsgaard) is a brilliant scientist with daddy issues. After Hector is ordered by government agents to examine an alien corpse, things go haywire and his face balloons like Elephant Man.
Now there’s a guy I could root for.
“Green Lantern,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, open across the U.S. Rating: *1/2
‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’
Jim Carrey, waddling penguins and a beloved children’s story seem like a good combination for a family comedy.
So why is “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” such a dud?
How about a slapdash adaptation, a too-tame Carrey and jokes lame enough to make a child wince?
Carrey’s Tommy Popper is a cocky, divorced real-estate bigwig who lives in a ritzy New York apartment and rarely sees his two kids (Madeline Carroll, Maxwell Perry Cotton). His life is turned upside-down when his adventurer father dies and, as his final gesture, sends Tommy a crate containing a Gentoo penguin from Antarctica.
Popper tries to return the flightless bird, but due to a mix-up he gets sent five more. His kids fall in love with the tuxedoed avians, so dad decides to keep them and turn his apartment into a freezer filled with snow, raw fish and an ice-skating track.
He also entertains the Gentoos -- real penguins were used, along with computer effects -- by planting them in front of a TV showing Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp doing his penguin-like walk.
Popper still wants to get back with his ex-wife (Carla Gugino), but he’s distracted by a zookeeper who wants to take the birds away and pressure from his bosses to buy the famous Tavern on the Green restaurant from its aging owner (Angela Lansbury). I was more annoyed by Popper’s bubbly assistant (Ophelia Lovibond), who speaks in alliterative sentences crammed with words starting with “p.”
Director Mark Waters can’t resist an overdose of sappiness and corniness, making this a movie for the birds.
“Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” from 20th Century Fox, open across the U.S. Rating: *1/2
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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