08.13.2009

REVIEW: Green Lantern First Flight DVD

I finally picked up the DC Universe animated original movie Green Lantern First Flight on DVD.  While the trailers I’d seen looked pretty good, I just wasn’t feeling passionate about watching the film.  My apathy is centered on the lead character, Hal Jordan.  While I really like everything surrounding the Green Lantern concept and universe, I find Hal Jordan himself to be one of the most boring characters in DC Comics.  I grew up reading Hal stories, but never really felt energized by the lead character until Kyle Rayner came along.  So it was with some reluctance that I finally sat down to watch this DVD.

With my general feelings about Hal Jordan behind us, I gotta say this movie was great!  Don’t be fooled, this was a science fiction movie, not a comic book movie.  I’m using the term “movie” intentionally here, even though one could simply describe the film as a “cartoon”.  I categorize this as a “movie” due to the epic story and the real journey that played out across the 77 minutes of the film.

The basic framework of the story should come as no surprise.  Pilot Hal Jordan is given a mysteriously powerful ring from a dying alien which transforms him into the Green Lantern.  Hal discovers he’s one of an elite force of protectors who patrol the universe under the leadership of the Guardians of the Universe.  The antagonist of the story is Sinestro, formerly the greatest of the Green Lanterns, now a rogue wearing an enormously powerful yellow ring.  Again, no surprises here.  Beyond that, the story doesn’t stick to the established Hal Jordan origins shown in Emerald Dawn or the more recent Secret Origin.  It delves into some good science fiction concepts and explores the almost-reasonable motivation behind Sinestro’s betrayal.  Hal gets a chance to shine as the rookie Green Lantern and demonstrates why he’ll become the greatest of all Green Lanterns.

In addition to solid storytelling, this film is full of action-packed battles, science fiction imagery, and great animation.  The combat scenes are exciting and you can’t help getting caught up in them.  It will be interesting to see if the upcoming live action Green Lantern movie with Ryan Reynolds can match the action scenes from this animated version.  Lots of cameos by favorite characters from the Green Lantern universe: Kilowog, Tomar Re, Kanjar Ro, Ganthet, Boodikka, Carol Ferris, Arisia, Ch’p, and more. The voice acting was fine; no complaints, but no stand-out performances either.  While the film is rated PG-13, the only thing to watch out for with the kiddies is some intense combat/gore and a little bit of language.  Nothing that an advanced 10 year old couldn’t handle.

The only disappointing thing in the movie was the lack of character development for Hal Jordan himself.  I promise I’m not being biased here against Hal.  While Hal did lots of cool things in the movie, you never really got a sense of who Hal was or where he came from.  Without really noticing much difference, you could have interchanged Hal Jordan for Kyle Rayner, or John Stewart, or Alan Scott, or even Charlie Vickers (anyone remember him besides me)?  It didn’t detract from the film tremendously, it just made it harder to connect with the character.

If you haven’t seen it, below is the official trailer for the movie.

For more on the movie, visit the official website by clicking here.

I picked up the Target exclusive two-disc special edition DVD, which includes a free digital download copy of the film.  I love the whole digital download concept!  This is such a great enhancement for DVDs nowadays.  Additional special features include:

  • A First Look at Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (7:49) – This was a really cool featurette that has me totally jazzed for this upcoming animated movie.
  • Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event (8:51) – includes commentary from Geoff Johns, Dan Didio, and Peter Tomasi discussing the Green Lantern comic book event
  • Green Lantern: Behind the Story with Geoff Johns (8:41) – Johns discusses the mythology of Green Lantern
  • Duck Dodgers “The Green Loontern” episode (22:22) – This is a fun episode of the Duck Dodgers cartoon.
  • In Brightest Day, In Blackest night: The Green Lantern Corps – Character Profiles of Sinestro (4:01) and the Guardians of the Universe (3:39)
  • Bruce Timm’s Top Picks: Green Lantern – Four Justice League animated series episodes “Once and Future Thing” parts 1 & 2, and  “In Blackest Night” parts 1 & 2 (about 23 minutes each) — These episodes star John Stewart as Green Lantern, but watch for the fun Hal Jordan cameo (voiced by Adam Baldwin) in part 2 of “Once and Future Thing“.
  • From Graphic Novel to Original Animated Movie – Justice League: The New Frontier (10:44)
  • Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess (10:25)
  • Batman: Gotham Knight – An Anime Evolution (10:09)
  • A few trailers for other non-DC films

While I was fairly pleased with the special features in general, I was disappointed there was no audio commentary and no in-depth featurette on the making of this animated movie.  Missing these didn’t spoil my day, but I would have liked them.

Overall, this was a fun science fiction movie with great action and visuals.  I recommend it!

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7 Responses to “REVIEW: Green Lantern First Flight DVD”

  1. Kevin Powell Says:

    I have to disagree with you here….I found this to be thoroughly mediocre. The entire story revolves around the watcher buying into the ‘fact’ that Hal Jordan learns to use his ring better than ALL lanterns AND the Guardians, in about a day, with no real training. He basically makes the whole Corps. look like morons.

    New frontier did a much better job with Hal’s origin story. I think this would have been better served to have hal (or better yet, Guy) having been in the Corps. for some time.

  2. Jay Amabile Says:

    I am totally sold on all of the DC Universe animated films besides Batman Gotham Knight. I loved First Flight and was surprised at how fun and entertaining they made it. I too found Lantern to be a boring character but not after this sci-fi infused zoom through space. I’d go so far as to say it rivals Superman Doomsday on Blu-Ray and it’s just a hair better than Wonder Woman. Public Enemies will probably annihilate all of these though!!!!

  3. BubbaShelby Says:

    I went to Best Buy to pick this up but they didn’t have the exclusive with the action figure, so I picked up Wonder Woman on sale. It was awesome and really set the bar for my viewing of GL, which I plan on returning to pick up soon.

    I agree with Jay, I am sold on these DC Universe movies too. REALLY looking forward to Public Enemies!

  4. Wade Says:

    I think I will pick this up tonight at Sam’s. It was a toss up between this and G.I. Joe the first season.

  5. Ron Says:

    Here is my review that I posted on theuniquegeek listserve: http://groups.google.com/group/theuniquegeek?hl=en

    ——

    In Green Lantern: First Flight, the Green Lantern they must be referring to is Sinestro, as he has at least five times the amount of lines as, what’s that other guy’s name? Oh, yeah, Hal Jordan .

    I guess Hal was lucky to get even that, since, at less than 80 minutes, they didn’t have much time to work with. Hal gets the ring literally 2 minutes after the opening credits begin. Back story and character development were not at the top of the creators list.

    Hal was voiced by Christopher Meloni, from Law & Order:SVU, who did an ok job with what he had, but not nearly as well as Nathan Fillion did as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, or even David Boreanoz as GL in New Frontier. Again, the movie was really stolen by Sinestro, in both story and the performance of Victor Garber from Alias. Rather than the plot being just original Hal Jordan story, the writers merged it with generous material from the Sinestro Corps storyline, which, story-wise, worked pretty well. They also dealt well with the great many background Corps characters, giving them enough depth to be interesting individuals without overwhelming us by their shear numerousness, including Boodikka, voiced by Tricia Helfer, Kilowog, voiced by Michael Madsen, and Chip, voiced by that guy that was Squigy in Lavern and Shirley, whom I would’ve sworn died 5 years ago. Actually, I think most of those guys even had more lines and back-story than Hal. The Guardians did get a little muttled, but other than Ganthet, they are pretty much interchangeable anyway.

    The fight scenes and plot were adequate enough; there just wasn’t enough story in it to really get me going. I really think it was DC putting feelers out there for what would or wouldn’t work in the upcoming GL live action movie. And whereas, to a make a live action Wonder Woman, all you’d have to do is and an extra 20 minutes to the animated movie, for GL, you’d have to add a full hour to make it really interesting. I do hope DC learns from the animated movie, because, not even Ryan Reynolds, even as mis-cast as he was, could pull of the dull-ness that was Hal was in this version.

    Should you see it? You could put it on your Blockbuster/Netflix list – but not necessarily at the top.

    ~Ron

  6. Shag Says:
  7. Margaret Says:

    Yeah. We didn’t like it at all. Not one bit.

    http://highfivecomics.net/2009/08/10/green-lantern-first-fail/

    Voila.

    Still, the special edition might be awesome if only for the extra features.

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