Created 40 years ago by John Broome and Gil Kane, at the dawn of the Silver Age, Hal Jordan is back in the center of the DCU and the star of his own animated film.
I was a bit surprised when I first heard DC was planning an animated Green Lantern film. Thrilled, but surprised. They had already done Justice League: The New Frontier which, at its heart, is a Hal Jordan story. I was also concerned by Warner Premiere’s hit-and-miss track record so far. So it was with hope, and a little trepidation, I sat down to watch Green Lantern: First Flight. Although far from perfect, this straight-to-DVD flick has a lot going for it. It’s a pretty good GL story, and it even casts Red Foreman as the voice of one of the villains.
The plot throws you right into the action with test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) receiving the ring from a dying Abin-Sur. From there we’re whisked off to the planet Oa and immersed quickly in the workings of the Green Lantern Corps and the duties of a Green Lantern. Hal flies off with Sinestro (Victor Garber) to find Abin Sur’s killer and a stolen “yellow element,” which could be used to create a powerful weapon (especially given the power rings’ weakness to that color of the spectrum).
The script manages to whittle down, cram, and rework an amazing amount of Green Lantern history into a 75-minute feature. We get Sinestro teaching Hal Jordan, Jordan’s dismissal from the Corps for insubordination, the big hero moment and chance for redemption, a hugely condensed and simplified look at Sinestro’s turn to evil, and a basic understanding of the Guardians and the Corps, all wrapped up into one neat package. It cuts a few corners in terms of GL lore to fit all this into a single story, but the story should open the film up to many newcomers who haven’t followed GL over the years.
Although, once again, I’m not too happy with the use of some computer animation in places (most notably the Power Battery), which doesn’t quite match up to the look of the rest of the film. It’s something I’ve had to accept as a constant issue with projects that DC puts out. And I’ll be a tad over-nitpicky with the look of the Lanterns, which are drawn a little too bulkyâ€”almost as if they are wearing armor rather than uniforms (and where’s the white gloves?). I do, however, like the look of Sinestro, especially in his new costume.
I’m very pleased with the choice of Lanterns, including Kilowog (Michael Madsen), Tomar Re (John Larroquette), Boodikka (Tricia Helfer), Arisia (Kath Soucie) and Ch’p (David Lander). Obviously, Guy Gardner wasn’t going to be part of this tale, but I do wish writer Alan Burnett would have had the foresight to work G’nort into the film somewhere!
The DVD is available both in a single-disc version, a double-disc special edition, and Blu-ray. All versions contain featurettes on other animated projects such as Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Justice League: The Final Frontier, and Wonder Woman, but, oddly enough, there isn’t a single feature about the making of this movie. Also included on all versions is a short behind-the-scenes look at DC’s current Blackest Night storyline, and trailers.
Both the Blu-ray and special edition DVD also include a short interview with Geoff Johns discussing the character and mythology of Green Lantern, character profiles for Sinestro and the Guardians of the Universe, the two-part episode “Once and Future Thing” from Justice League, and the Green Lantern-themed Duck Dodgers episode “The Green Loontern.” For plopping down an extra $5-7, you aren’t getting that much more content.
Green Lantern: First Flight is not in the same league with New Frontier (which I loved), but it’s a fair bit better than Warner Premiere’s other projects. I’m more than a little disappointed with the lack of extras that actually tie-in to the film (or, aside from the interview with Johns, even the character), but there’s enough here for make the GL fan in me happy enough to recommend it. Unless you want the Duck Dodgers episode (which, I’ll admit, I kinda’ like), you can probably make do with the cheaper one-disc version, but either way, it’s worth checking out.