Friday, July 24, 2009

DVD Review: Green Lantern: First Flight

On his first day on the job, a rookie cop works with a rogue senior officer who isn't what he appears to be. But enough about about the Oscar-winning crime film Training Day, lets talk about Green Lantern: First Flight, the latest direct-to-DVD animated feature from animation legend Bruce Timm. The film documents the first mission of Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni), the most enduring character ever to bear the mantle of Green Lantern. Sinestro (Victor Garber), a highly respected officer of the Green Lantern Corps, takes the young Jordan under his wing. However, Jordan soon discovers that Sinestro is involved in a conspiracy to take down the Corps, and must stop Sinestro before he takes over the universe. Wow, maybe this is Training Day.

The Pros: As much as I joked about the plot's similarities to Training Day, in no way to I consider this a ripoff. But despite the title, this film is not a origin story. In fact, his origin is over and done with within the first five minutes before the credits even role. This is not a bad thing, however, in fact, since his origin is covered in detail is Justice League: The New Frontier, you could very easily consider this a spin-off of that film. This film is basically like the second half of your average superhero film. Most superhero films spend the first half introducing the character and then transforming him into a superhero, then he usual meets his villain and has his first adventure as a superhero in the second half.

One of the best aspects of this film is the animation. Bruce Timm & Company have always been superior animators, but this is some of their best work ever. The explosions are beautifully realistic, and nowhere will you see better space battles involving no space ships. The redesigns on the characters are great too, particularly on Sinestro and Kilowog, who always looks somewhat ridiculous in the comics. Incidentally, Michael Madsen as Kilowog = AWESOME!!

The Cons: There seems to be an unwritten law that all Direct-to DVD animated features can be no longer than 80 minutes in length. It's a law that needs to be done away with because it's been seriously affecting the quality of these otherwise stellar DC animated films. Justice League: The New Frontier and Wonder Woman in particular suffered greatly because of their short running times. They simply leave too little time for real character development, and often the plots feel rushed.

It's my understanding that fans intially disliked the character of Hal Jordan when he first appeared in 1959. He was thought of a a bit of a stiffneck, with no real characteristics to distiguish him personality-wise. However, the more recent portrayals of Hal Jordan particularly is Darwyn Cooke's excellent graphic novel DC: The New Frontier, Hal is portrayed as someone more akin to Marverick from Top Gun, the hotshot pilot with a devilmaycare attitude. And while that is ostensibly the Hal Jordan portrayed here, the film rushes by so fast you barely get even a sense of that.

Hal doesn't even seem have time to react with suprise and awe to any of the fantastic events happening to him out of the blue. I don't know about you, but if I were suddenly recruited into an alien police force, I'd proabaly start babbling like an idiot. But Hal just takes it all in a stride. It would've also been nice to see Hal actually learning to use the ring. One of the best parts of the Iron Man film for me was the bits with Tony Stark getting the hang of his armor. Here, Hal pretty much masters the ring either instantly, or offscreen, either wat depriving us of some great comedic moments.

The Rest: Not that I'm complaining, but this film was way, way more violent than I was expecting. Superman: Doomsday wasn't as brutal as this. Blood is spilt almost literally every other scene. In fact, if not for the fact that most of it is alien and therefore not red, this film might've very well received a R rating. And not all of it isn't red. There's on seen where character is impaled and covered in his/her (no spoilers!) own very red blood.

The End: Overall, this is fairly average work for Bruce Timm. Of course even mediocre Bruce Timm is lightyears beyond most people. I would however reccomend watching this back to back with Justice League: The New Frontier, to really get the full Hal Jordan experience.

Overall, I give Green Lantern: First Flight a Silver Anarchy Coin.

Click here to visit the official website for Green Lantern: First Flight.

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