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It's Popcorn Games time with 'Green Lantern'

June 20, 2011|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail

"Green Lantern" struck me as a particularly useless blockbuster. It's ugly, it's uncreative and it's opening in a season with no shortage of better comic book movies. 

I want everyone to have a fun time at the movies, so try salvaging the experience by enjoying some Popcorn Games. Eat popcorn according to what happens in the movie. You can come up with your own rules, but I have a few suggestions:

  • Much like "Thor," the film opens with a wordy, confusing narration. Eat a piece of popcorn every time the narrator mentions a unique name or concept and you worry that there's going to be a quiz later.
  • The film's main character is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), an irresponsible fighter pilot. Apparently the film thinks that this country allows irresponsible people to become fighter pilots. The film likes to remind us that Hal may not be ready for the responsibility of being a superhero, so eat a piece of popcorn every time he does something careless.
  • Hal gets his superpowers when a mortally wounded alien crash-lands nearby and tells him that he is destined to become the official Green Lantern of Earth.  Hal wonders, "Why me?"  This isn't just at first, he spends the better part of the film questioning the decision. Eat a piece of popcorn every time he does so.
  • Hal gets his Green Lantern powers from a ring, but the ring has to have recently touched an actual lantern for it to work properly. I was expecting an eventual scene where Hal needs to use his powers but the ring is uncharged. Such a scene never comes, but eat a piece of popcorn in its absence.
  • The exact power of the ring is that it allows the wearer to conjure up whatever he wills. The ability to instantly materialize matter is a cool superpower, but Hal hardly ever uses it, which tells me the film needed to save money on special effects. There should at least be a scene where he selfishly wills up a cheeseburger or something. Eat two pieces of popcorn on the rare occasion that he actually uses his powers.
  • The film's villain is a disembodied fear-being called Parallax. Parallax hides a bit of himself in the wound on the dying alien and then infects Dr. Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), who performs the autopsy. Dr. Hammond then gains evil superpowers and functions as the villain, although the film is never really clear on whether he's evil because he's drunk on his newfound power or if Parallax is controlling his mindset. Eat two pieces of popcorn whenever you get confused yourself.
  • Hal's girlfriend Carol (Blake Lively) is the daughter of plane-maker Carl Ferris (Jay O. Sanders). Dr. Hammond is the son of the shady Sen. Hammond (Tim Robbins).  Eat two pieces of popcorn whenever you forget exactly who's related to who.
  • Hal goes to train with other Green Lanterns on the distant planet of Oa. He travels untold distances across time and space just to subject himself to the same tough-love training sequences that we've seen too many times in movies set on Earth. Eat 10 pieces of popcorn from the comfort of your Earth seat.
  • Hal wants to fight Parallax using his will powers, but a high-ranking Green Lantern named Sinestro (Mark Strong) wants to harness the power of fear and beat Parallax at his own game. The decision rests with the wise Guardians of Oa. Stuff a fistful of popcorn in your mouth to keep from questioning the wisdom of the Guardians for allowing someone named Sinestro to have Green Lantern powers in the first place.
  • Toward the end of the film, Hal offers a trade with Dr. Hammond. He offers something that he couldn't give away if he wanted to. Again, stuff your mouth full of popcorn to keep from warning Dr. Hammond that Green Lantern's powers don't work that way.
One star out of Five.


"Green Lantern" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action. Its running time is 105 minutes.



Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu.

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