Green Lantern: First Flight is the best looking DC animated film yet and should easily convince anyone that the live action film is well deserved. Writer Alan Burnett, who has been working with Superman and Batman in comics as well as animated form over the last few years, does a tremendous job of offering a streamlined version of this much loved space opera.
At the moment Green Lantern is one of the hottest characters around, thanks to Geoff Johns and his epic building Blackest Night event. The focus in this animated adventure is not about such complexities, as one film wouldn’t be enough, but it does a great job of providing all the information needed for the Lantern curious.
It’s essentially Hal Jordan: Year One but there’s no Rocky-style training montage. Less than 10 minutes after the film begins Jordan has received his ring from the dying alien Abin Sur and is off to Oa, where he’s partnered with veteran Lantern, Sinestro. It’s been described elsewhere as Training Day in space, and that’s a tidy fit. Hal is the first earthman to receive a power ring, which enables its wearer to make constructs of whatever they can imagine. The Green Lantern Corps (an intergalactic peace keeping force) have been around for aeons, thanks to the Guardians, a race of little blue creatures who fashioned the rings and oversee the Corps. Jordan’s not a popular new recruit, and the myriad of aliens know Earth doesn’t have a good track record. However Sinestro offers to show Jordan the ropes. This is when Jordan grasps what the ring is capable of, and its weakness to the colour yellow, as well discovering that Sinestro is sick of the system and has secretly been trying to take over the Guardians’ job as rulers of the universe.
The problem with this film is the same thing that makes it so enjoyable for fanboys. It is a non-stop ride. Viewers will get more from it if they’re already somewhat familiar with the GL concept. The basics are offered, but with no real explanations. The bonus features offer more answers to the mythos though, with Geoff Johns chiming in about Blackest Night, and summaries of the Guardians and Sinestro. There’s also an excellent look at September’s Superman/Batman: Public Enemies film, which looks rocking. It re-unites the original animated voices of Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor and sticks closely to the first few issues of the Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness series. With its ramped up action and guest stars galore, this could possibly be the best of these movies. Also included are previous looks at the earlier films, Justice League: New Frontier, Batman: Gotham Knight and Wonder Woman, the latter of which GL director Lauren Montgomery also directed. Trailers for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ban 10: Alien Force, Bakugan and Batman: Gotham Knight round out the extras on the first disc.
Disc 2 has the best extras, with more Geoff Johns, but this time he reveals his history on the character and how he sees Hal and co. This feature also includes heaps of eye candy, with art from Ivan Reis, Dave Gibbons and others. It’s an interesting, though brief, look at Johns, as he mentions the doubts many had on Hal’s future, his research at Edwards Air Force Base, and how he got his internship with Superman director Richard Donner. The classic Green Loontern episode from the Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ th Century TV toon from a few years ago is here too. Duck Dodgers accidentally receives a Lantern suit and ring from the drycleaners and must rescue the Corps from the clutches of Sinestro. It features many light hearted cameos, including Kevin Smith as Jordan! What is becoming a regular extra is Bruce Timm Presents, where the veteran animation producer and character designer chooses two fave episodes from the DC animated banks. Here it’s the Once and Future Thing Part One and Two from Justice League Unlimited. This is a welcome extra, but an introduction by Timm on who he is and why he chose these episodes would make sense.
Each Lantern suit is slightly different not only from its comic book counterpart, but also from each other. Carol Ferris, Tomar Re, Ch’p, Arisia, Kilowog and The Guradians appear the same in both appearance and personality, but other familiar characters are strangely different, such as the Weaponers of Qward, Abin Sur, Kanjar Ro and Boodikka, voiced by Tricia Helfer.
I can see this film being one which separates audiences. It’s perhaps too much for DC novices, but it looks splendid, and is filled with action and many (off-screen) deaths. 77 minutes isn’t long enough for an introduction into the sprawling GL mythos, though the extras help reveal more. The music by Robert Kral is the best of these movies, and I’m glad to see Sinestro eventually get his fancy yellow suit.
The voice acting is great too. Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU) handles Jordan well, as does Michael Madsen with Kilowog, and Victor Garber (Alias) is pitch perfect as Sinestro, with menace and arrogance in equal measure. Garber’s role is the largest one in the film and he steps up with relish.
First Flight won’t be for everyone, but it’s close to the comics for the most part and its mix of space faring adventure, cop show and dazzling visuals should be enough for fans of DC and good animation. Considering this is the second direct-to-DVD release from DC this year, with one more to come in 2009, its pretty impressive. They keep churning them out with no loss of quality.
Green Lantern: First Flight is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand now.