Green Lantern: First Flight

green-lantern-first-flight-2-disc-artwork1DC’s newest animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight hits shelves later this month (the 28th, to be exact), and, while they should have taken the opportunity to release it the same week as Blackest Night #1, still fits firmly within helping to make July 2009 an unofficial Green Lantern Month.  With a new GL funnybook on the shelves practically every week this month, and this film, it’s a good time to be a Green Lantern fan.

Directed by Lauren Montgomery (who also had the directing chores on the last DCA movie, Wonder Woman), we finally get the first official Green Lantern movie.  Sure, New Frontier focused on the character, and we’ve seen GL episodes in Justice League, The Batman, and Brave and the Bold, but this is something new – a full movie dedicated to exploring Hal Jordan and the GL Corps.

DC’s animated line has been met with uneven reviews, and even quality to a certain extent.  Superman/Doomsday, which started the line, was pretty damn awful.  Everyone seemed to like The New Frontier except me.  I did enjoy Batman: Gotham Knight, and thought Wonder Woman was the best of the bunch.  Did the increase in quality continue with Green Lantern: First Flight?  Check out my full review after the jump!

Green Lantern: First Flight doesn’t waste a lot of time exploring Hal Jordan’s origin.  Rather than retred similar material to what we’ve seen in the past in The New Frontier, Hal Jordan becomes the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 before the opening credits even roll.  After the opening credits, it’s understood he’s had the ring for a very short time, but he’s already pretty much managed to figure it out.  From there, we see Hal Jordan go through training and on his first missions to prove he’s worthy of the Green Lantern ring.  In what’s essentially and animated version of Training Day, Hal Jordan and trainer Sinestro run through the paces while Sinestro tries to find the man who killed the original bearer of Hal Jordan’s GL ring, Abin Sur.

halWhile Green Lantern is certainly a step up from the earliest DC Animated movies, it’s not quite as good as the previous one, Wonder Woman.  The voice acting is stupendous, particularly the two leads, Christopher Meloni (Hal Jordan) and Victor Garber (Sinestro).  Also in the cast are Tricia Helfer as Boodikka, Michael Madsen as Kilowog, and John Larroquette as Tomar Re.  Again, the actors disappear into their roles, and I honestly didnt’t once think of the actors playing the roles, but only the characters themselves.

The action scenes are all spectacular, as expected from the same director as Wonder Woman, which also had some spectacular action.  I tell you, 3D CGI animated films just can’t replicate the energy that these hand drawn animated films do.  The camera seems to move just like a movie camera, except that it can get even closer to the action.  The final battle is what you’ve come to expect from this group since the Justice League/Superman Animated days – buildings get smashed up real good, tons of explosions and flying stuff … all in all, pretty great.

The only negative I really have to say about the film is that, for a 77-minute film, it does manage to drag a little bit in the middle.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but the take itself on Hal Jordan’s first mission just didn’t match up with the way I’ve seen it done in other media.  I really expected this film to be more like Geoff Johns’ recent Green Lantern: Secret Origin tale, especially considering the interviews with the makers of this film who’ve said they want to make a Sinestro Corps War movie eventually.  After the excellent way that story was told, I was hoping for an adaptation of that in this movie.  Instead, they did a different take on the same timeline that, I feel, doesn’t quite carry much emotional punch during the middle bit of the film.  It starts strong (though I would have liked a little more of the origin tale) and ends strong, but that middle bit is where it falters a bit.  The story just wasn’t strong enough, especially after such a well done Wonder Woman tale.  It’s not bad at all, but considering this is the guy who wrote Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, I just expected a little bit more.

Still, definitely worth catching if you’re a fan of Green Lantern, and definitely worth picking up on Blu-Ray!  You get some kick ass Justice League episodes on Blu-Ray, including Once and Future Thing, that crazy time travel episode of JLU where Hal Jordan popped up.  Plus, as has become standard with these DC Animated films, you get some great making of material (including a look at the aforementioned Blackest Night event) and a nifty digital copy to put on your iPod and never watch.

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