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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "In brightest day, in blackest night..." (c'mon, chant it with me!), August 7, 2009
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This review is from: Green Lantern: First Flight (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
In the Marvel universe Daredevil is the Man Without Fear. In DC Comics that label falls to Hal Jordan, who shows no fear and brandishes a will of friggin' iron. I'm not one to be on Hal Jordan's jock but I've been reading comic books long enough to know just how much this guy's been put thru the wringer. Not only did he have to put up with Oliver Queen in all those socially relevant stories, but years ago Hal Jordan went insane and turned to the dark side - but having your city murdered under your nose might do that. Dude became a mega-supervillain called Parallax and wreaked incalculable devastation. Later, Jordan sacrificed himself and eventually took up the mantle of the Spectre, after which he came back from the dead (coming back from the dead being only marginally more challenging than chewing gum IF you're a comic book character). In DC's line of direct-to-video original animated movies, it's only natural that the spotlight first focused on the Big Three. But, after Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, I can see why Green Lantern would receive the next animated feature film treatment. Hal Jordan, whether home on Earth or patrolling the perilous spaceways, happens to be one of DC's all-time big guns.

GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT spits on the slow burn set-up and instead plonks you straight into the thick of things. Within the first four minutes of the film the dying extra-terrestrial Abin Sur crash lands and bestows his power ring onto dashing test pilot Hal Jordan, and Hal then becomes the Green Lantern of Sector 2814. There's barely time to acknowledge Carol Ferris and her Ferris Air company before the new Lantern is whisked away to a hellacious deep space adventure. Cue the non-stop action. Just one of the reasons I dig this movie.

Hal Jordan is transported to the center of the universe, to the planet Oa, home to those immortal blue midgets known as the Guardians of the Universe. The Guardians, creators of the Green Lantern Corps, don't think much of humans. Sinestro, the intrepid Green Lantern of Sector 1417, has to talk fast to convince them to allow him to take Jordan under his wing. So off Sinestro and Jordan go, on a mission to learn the identity of Abin Sur's killer.

But there's an even bigger situation brewing. For a while now the Lanterns had been on the lookout for any sign of the yellow element, the only thing powerful enough to counter the green element, which is the source of the Green Lantern Corps' power rings. I don't think I'm spoilering things when I say that Sinestro isn't as noble as advertised, that dude actually leans closer to finkhood than to heroism. Near immeasurable power has corrupted Sinestro, to the point where he now believes that the end justifies the means and has no qualms at all about torturing prisoners for information. He doesn't think much of the Guardians and disparages them every chance he gets. In his new world order, there is no room for these immortal blue midgets. Sinestro very easily lives up to his rep as Hal Jordan's archnemesis. As a bonus, for those who've been reading up on recent Green Lantern stuff, Sinestro eventually dons his black and yellow outfit from the Sinestro Corps. He looks darkly resplendent in a fashionably despotic kind of way.

I'm so used to Hal Jordan being the experienced pro that it's sort of refreshing to see him being the newbie on the block and getting that rookie treatment. You know you're lowest on the totem pole when even the squirrel Green Lantern disses you. Still, soon enough, Hal Jordan is doing his thing, kicking space alien booty, piercing thru conspiracies, and generally proving his doubters wrong. I don't know that Hal's use of his ring is all that inventive or imaginative, but, man, there is such decisiveness and flourish to the way he puts his ring thru its paces. Surprisingly, my favorite ring manifestation was that giant golf club, although, since I'm old-school, I'm kinda glad there's a sequence in which the classic gigantic green fists come into play.

The pace is poppin', the thrills keep on comin', but not so much with the character development. Hal Jordan is Hal Jordan, brash and resourceful and brimming with bravado, even as a fresh-faced rookie and even when his ring is stripped away from him. But Hal just rolls with the punches. Sinestro is the most interesting person here, although not too many'll be startled with his good-to-evil arc. Several old GL favorites make the cut: Boodikka, Arisia, Ch'p, Tomar Re, and one of my all-time favorite Lanterns, Kilowog. Gratifyingly, Kilowog is given a big role and even gets to mutter "Poozer!" a couple of times.

The film takes advantage of its PG-13 rating. I liked the violence, but then again I'm a fairly sick mo-fo. Others might raise an eyebrow to scenes of impalements, necks being snapped, and even of a ring's energy beam lethally punching thru a body. The animation is mostly solid, but is at times shaky, and there's that one bothersome sequence in which Sinestro's normally magenta complexion mysteriously shifts to a more human color.

But, never mind, the animators do the job in conveying on film that epic cinemascope vibe that comes with Green Lantern's intergalactic exploits. GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT doesn't quite achieve Justice League - The New Frontier (Two-Disc Special Edition)'s level of excellence, but it still places third on my list of favorite DC direct-to-video animated films so far (right after Wonder Woman 2009 (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy)). The yellow element battery, created by the creepy Weaponers of Qward, looks impressive and menacing, and Sinestro's supervillain street creds are established when he almost dismissively takes out gangfuls (Corpsfuls?) of Green Lanterns. Again, this is a PG-13 picture, so characters actually die in this one, and sometimes quite horribly. Nothing says "Oh crippitycrap" like a shower of defunct power rings ominously klunking on the floor at the Guardians' feet. But, just when things look bleakest, check out who reclaims his power ring (no, it's not G'nort).

The special features are... okay. Disc One has: the widescreen feature presentation; the very promising exclusive sneak peek (7:49 minutes long) at the next DC Universe animated film SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES (based on Jeph Loeb's first story arc from the SUPERMAN/BATMAN comic book and starring the voices of Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, & Clancy Brown); in-depth featurettes on three original DC animated films JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER (10:43 minutes), WONDER WOMAN (10:25 minutes), and BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT (10:08 minutes); and a behind-the-scenes look (8:50 minutes) at Blackest Night, the DC Comics mega-event which resurrects the dead and has them wielding corrupted black power rings.

Disc Two has: Behind the Story with Geoff Johns as he discusses Green Lantern's mythology; the pretty friggin' great DUCK DODGERS episode: "Green Loontern"; Green Lantern Corps Character Profiles on Sinestro and the Guardians of the Universe; and 2 bonus cartoons from JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED: the very, very awesome two-parter "The Once and Future Thing," in which Batman, Wonder Woman, and the John Stewart Green Lantern pursue Lord Chronos and end up first in the Old West and then 50 years into the future. Hal Jordan shows up for a nano-moment in the second part, which I guess is enough of a tie-in to include the two-parter on this DVD. Not that I'm complaining. Watching GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT has got me all kinds of excited to see the live action film. Bring it, Ryan Reynolds!!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 10, 2009 6:17:18 PM PDT
shaxper says:
Great review, particularly the quip about G'nort. I nearly lost it.

I've been on the fence with this one since I love classic Hal too much to see him ruined and since that's exactly what I saw happen with the straight to DVD Marvel movies (I haven't had the courage to watch any of the DC ones yet). This review gives me hope. How's the voice casting? Does Hal sound the way you'd expect?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2009 10:30:51 PM PDT
H. Bala says:
Christopher Meloni from Law & Order: SVU does Hal Jordan's voice. And, honestly, it took me a bit to get used to him. I was expecting someone with, I dunno, more oomph and maybe a bit more weight to his voice. But I think overall Meloni did fine, and, after all, this is Hal Jordan starting out as GL. The story in FIRST FLIGHT is pretty straightforward with one twist I wasn't expecting, but the flick is mainly propelled by non-stop action.

As far as other DC animated films, I recommend JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER and WONDER WOMAN.

Posted on Oct 23, 2009 1:28:40 PM PDT
let me make one thing straight first i am a die hard green lantern fan. i like everything you mentioned in your review except Bring it Ryan Reynolds!! Nothing personal but as an actor he sucks. He always plays himself in every movie. DC Comics could have picked a much better actor. i would have liked Chris Pine instead. i think it came down to who costs less. and because they choose Ryan i may not even want to see the movie. i mean ryan did "such a great job" playing himself in the last wolverine movie, and even in blade. and right after the wolverine movie i literally thought it was going to say Hugh Jackman : Wolverine/Logan Ryan Reynolds : Played Himself. bottom line Ryan Reynolds bad actor. nobody wants to see there superhero be played by some bad actor

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2009 8:08:27 PM PDT
H. Bala says:
I like Ryan Reynolds and I think he can even act a bit, although, yeah, I'm very curious to see how he's gonna pull off Hal Jordan, who may be cocky but was never much of a joke-cracking hero. But the guy I really would've loved to have played Hal - and I heard this being discussed somewhere, so I'm not the only one thinking this - is Nathan Fillion.

Posted on Jan 20, 2010 5:55:50 PM PST
Really? YOur home city getting destroyed can drive you over the edge? I went insane when they took Amy Ryan (Holly) off the Office last season! Seriously, as a baby boomer who read GL since early 60s, I thought the Parallax story line way too violent--limbs flying helter skelter, for instance--and a ripoff of the Phoenix Saga, though Marvel butchered that by bringing Jean Grey back in the late 80s, bah. Similarly, I thought an evil Superboy in the Crisis Rehash too much. There is no way Superman or Superboy in any dimension should turn evil. Or Hal Jordan, for that matter. But I might look into the DVD.
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Location: Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe

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