I couldn’t think of a fancy title for this review, but I guess that’s ok…at least I’m writing something right? Right? Right.
I am admittedly a geek, but what I’ve found since making my foray into the blogoshpere/podcasting world is that I am far less versed in all things geekdom than I once thought.
My first exposure to The Green Lantern was through Challenge of the Superfriends reruns on Saturday mornings. As a kid I totally bought into this guy’s awesome powers and even his one weakness…yellow. As a kid it just made sense.
A few years later when I began reading/collecting comics, I found myself falling on the Marvel side of things for some pretty silly reasons. But I was happy being a Marvel zombie. It wasn’t until 1997 when I was in a comic shop and saw Grant Morrison’s JLA number 1 that I began to broaden my horizons into all things DC a bit. You remember the cover don’t you?
It had S
uperman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, an as yet unknown to me Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern all on there looking ready for action. As I saw that cover I knew I must have that comic because there were the Superfriends all looking pretty awesome in a 90’s kind of way. What I wasn’t prepard for was just how foreign the characters of Wally West and Kyle Raynier would be to me. As I read the panels of those two discussing how out of place they sometimes felt as the “rookies” of the group, I got curious and began to seek out what had happened to the Flash and Green Lantern that I had known as a kid. What I found was a whole other Universe that was just as rich and as fun as the Marvel Universe I had played in for so long. In fact, DC offered something quite different from Marvel at the time. I remember telling a friend, “Marvel has heroes…really good character, but DC has LEGENDS.” I had become a bit of a DC nerd trying to uncover the history of these characters, who were their predecessors, just how cataclysmic has this Crisis been. I learned to love the DC Universe, and I kicked myself for not paying more attention to it for the years before that I had been collecting.
So it is, that I bring to the table limited knowledge of certain DC characters when I watch these animated movies or even the big screen adaptations of the characters. While I know the characters and enjoy them, my limited history with them makes such experiences a lot more fun than it may be for someone who has been completely devoted to a character for a while now.
It’s that way with The Green Lantern. I know the origin of Hal Jordan. I know how he went nuts and became Parallax. I really enjoyed how Geoff Johns brought him back in “Rebirth,” and “The Sinestro Corps War” was one of the coolest things I’d read in comics in a long time. I’ve really been looking forward to following “Blackest Night.” However, I don’t know all the names of the Green Lantern Corps. I recognize faces, but if a character is done slightly different than he or she is done in the comics, I miss it, and it doesn’t bother me.
Having said all that, I really enjoyed GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT. As I watched it, I was impressed with the pacing of the movie, the animation was pretty good, and while I had some issues with the voice work and choices for voice acting, the story and characterization of the players involved made for yet another successful outing from the crew at WB and DC Animated.
The first thing that I noticed about this film, and liked, was the pacing. There is no time wasted in getting the ring on Hal Jordan’s finger, and while we are privy to his personality (fearless), and a little bit of his relationship with Carol Farris, there’s not a lot of time spent exploring that. This is a movie about the rise of Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern of sector 2814. Honestly, I like that. While I love a good character piece and appreciate delving into a heroes psyche as much as the next geek, I also like it when the writers of a story move confidently forward realizing that it’s not necessary to explore romantic relationships, daddy issues, and egos to show what a character is made up of. FIRST FLIGHT flows so well as not only an origin story but also an all out sci fi space movie that moves with very little slowing down from start to finish.
While some might complain that Hal figures out the ring a bit too quickly, let’s not forget that Hal didn’t become a test pilot because he’s stupid. It takes a certain amount of intelligence to become a pilot, much moreso to pilot prototypical aircraft. For me it’s not a stretch given how much the ring does for the wearer coupled with Hal’s own intelligence. Also, as Hal learns, he does a lot of mimicking what he sees other Green Lanterns do. Thus making the moments of his own ingenuity with the ring that much cooler. Can you say fly swatter anyone?
There were a few moments in this movie where some animation took me out of the movie for just a second or two. The use of computer animation was there several times and it was apparent. In my opinion, when using computers to add effects or certain elements to animation, it shouldn’t stand out too blatantly as to separate itself from the rest of what’s going on. It looks great, but it does have a bit of the off color brick in Scooby Doo going for it at the same time. You know the brick I’m talking about…just different enough to differentiate itself as something that will be moved.
However, those few moments weren’t enough to turn me off to the animation as a whole. The character designs were great and I really liked the fact that classic characters like Kilowog had a certain realism to their look. Sinestro has less of the look of The Leader from Marvel comics with the big forehead, and looks more akin to his design from the “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” series. The Guardians, while at times hard to differentiate looked like…well, the Guardians, and Hal Jorda was Hal Jordan no mistaking him for any other Green Lantern we may have seen before.
The only thing that really bothered me about the movie was the voice acting. There were, as with other DC Animated projects, so great actors put to use in this movie. However, Christopher Meloni sounds a little too much like Robert Patrick to me, and I couldn’t shake that image while watching. I really thought they should have tried to get David Boreanaz again, but I understand why they didn’t. Michael Madsen is one of my favorite actors. He has a subtle charisma about him that causes the screen to light up whenever he’s on it. However, I really felt Kilowog’s voice was a little understated. I guess I feel like someone that big should have a more booming quality to his voice. All in all, those are really the only voices that bothered me. So, I guess the voice work isn’t such a sticking point.
What really drives a movie like this, though, is story. GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT is the story of Hal Jordan’s rise to the role of Green Lantern of sectot 2814. It is also the story of Sinestro’s descent into evil. It’s a very well crafted story with moments that are dark and horrifying, and those moments that…well…those moments in movies that I am a complete sucker for. SPOILER WARNING: When all is lost and Hal steps up with no ring on his finger to save the day, then saves the day with a ring on his finger, I absolutely love it. The final battle is big, the build up to the final battle is tense, the stakes are high, and the good guys kind of win in the end.
All in all I give this movie a very solid 3 1/2 green whatever I give 5 of out of 5. I don’t go full on 4 or 5 because I watched the sneak peek at SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES before I watched FIRST FLIGHT and OH…MY…LANTA…IS THAT THING GONNA ROCK!! However, if you’re a Green Lantern fan, or a fan of Superhero movies…pick this one up. It’s totally worth it.