1. Green Lantern (Warner Brothers, 3,816 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Once upon a time, DC Comics held a monopoly on the comic book movie. Between the Superman and Batman franchises, DC was being well represented on the silver screen. Marvel was relegated to the B-move and direct-to-video market.
But those franchises became cases of diminishing returns as the filmmakers strayed away from what made the originals a success and move towards Richard Pryor as co-stars and nipples on Bat-suits. Marvel took a more active role in the production of their films, and we get resounding successes such as X-Men, Spider-Man and Iron Man. DC was forced to play catch up.
They took a step in the right direction when rebooting the Bat franchise with Batman Begins. It followed the same pattern as the Marvel films–stay true to the comic book roots while molding it into an exciting film. Things looked positive.
Then Jonah Hex came out, and it showed the same kind of studio think that caused the Superman and Batman franchises to fail. The filmmakers had no idea what made the comic book character so good, and they fiddled with it until the film was just horrible.
This brings us to Green Lantern. I always thought that this would be a comic character that, if done right, could establish DC as a powerhouse in the comic movie genre. The concept is equal parts Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Top Gun. It would be hard to screw up.
I reviewed the script and found it had the potential to be a quality film. Then I saw the jokey first round of ads for the film and felt a knot in my stomach. Jokes were added that weren’t in the script, and when the studio ads humor to a DC movie, it kills it.
The next round of ads seemed to be more on track with what I originally expected, so I started feeling good about it. Then I saw that the film is rated 22% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and I felt discouraged again.
I don’t know what to expect. But I know DC is pinning their hopes on this film to jump start a Marvel-like dominance of the movie theaters (a sequel is already in the works). But if they drop the ball, it could doom any DC film not being overseen by Christopher Nolan from ever getting made. And if they screw this film up, that would be for the best.
2. Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Fox, 3,338 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG): Having any attempt at doing dramatic work met with lukewarm response, Jim Carrey is in an interesting stage of his career as a film comedian. He has grown out of being the “Village Idiot” type of roles he played in Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber. He has grown out of the immature man-child roles he played in Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. Now he is consigned to the role of the neglectful father who only realizes the value of family after being reminded of it as his life undergoes an unorthodox upheaval.
That unorthodox upheaval comes in the form of six penguins sent to him by his father. They force him to not pay so much attention to work, which allows his family to enter into his life.
Formulaic family entertainment to be sure, but, depending on what your tolerance for Carrey’s earlier work is, it might come as an improvement.