On Green Lantern: First Flight

After seeing Green Lantern it was good to watch the animated features, starting with Green Lantern: First Flight. The title sequence for the film is actually very well done, but Hal Jordan does lack in characterization, causing me to lose interest in his character. On the other hand, the characters like Sinestro, the Guardians, and Boodikka are much more interesting to watch.According to the A Place To Hang Your CAPE! article, “Age of the DCAU: Green Lantern: First Flight“:

Since most of these DC Animated movies clock in around seventy-five minutes, the story moves very quickly. In a matter of minutes, we see our protagonist Hal Jordan stumbling upon a crashed ship. Here he finds an alien named Abin Sur, part of the Green Lantern Corps. As he’s dying, he tells Hal that the ring has chosen him and he must carry on his role as a Green Lantern. After briefly testing out his powers, Hal meets some of the other Green Lanterns including Sinestro. The film has a pretty solid cast including Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, and Michael Madsen. Hal journeys with them to the planet Oa where he meets the Guardians and learns more about the Green Lantern Corps. and their placement in the universe.

While this is intending to be Hal Jordan’s story, unfortunately he’s completely in Sinestro’s shadow. Sinestro is exceedingly more interesting than Hal with stronger character progression. His arc feels a lot more earned whereas Hal’s doesn’t. Which is probably the biggest flaw of the film. As any Green Lantern fan knows, what makes someone deserving of the ring is their willpower. This little detail is completely brushed over for Hal Jordan. Yes, we get some of his cockiness, but the film never makes me believe that the ring would choose him over anyone in the galaxy. For most of the film, he’s just watching what other people do or taking orders from Sinestro. We never see his driving determination which makes him an inspiration in the Corps. and a worthy challenge to Sinestro.

The climax is pretty standard stuff for these movies. The fight between Hal Jordan and Sinestro has some nice visuals due to their powers, but it lacks the weight it needs. It is satisfying when we finally hear Hal Jordan recite the oath with the entire Corps. joining in. Anyone unfamiliar with the character are given a nice glimpse into the world and what makes the Green Lanterns so cool. Most of the film does not take place on Earth which I was actually really happy for (I’m looking at you again, Ryan Reynolds). The writing of Sinestro is very good and gives a real argument as to Sinestro being one of the best villains in the DC universe. His transformation is really impressive and I would absolutely watch another Green Lantern movie with him in it. So while this may not be essential viewing of the DCAU, it’s certainly worth a watch.

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Green Lantern Live-Action 2011 Film vs. This Animated Feature

The origin story aspect in both films appear to move pretty quickly, but the live-action film has a few lighter moments I rather like. Also I rather enjoyed that in this feature, Jordan was a test pilot not seen to us in an actual aircraft, whereas in the live-action feature Jordan is shown to be in an aircraft.

Jordan’s relationship with other Lanterns to me is much better in this animated feature compared to the live-action film, largely due to the development needed regarding  Dr. Hector Hammond, and Dr. Amanda Waller, on Earth.

The main foe Parallax, in the live-action film, I thought was too much to also take place in a film that features the origin story. This hurts the development of the film’s foe overall, because everything is so rushed. In this animated feature, though, having Sinestro as the main villain really works out better, because it’s not a universe-ending-scenario, and is a foe kept within the Lanterns.

According to the IGN review:

DC Universe has been on a roll with its original, direct-to-DVD animated fare in recent years. With entertaining and faithful full-length features like Wonder Woman and Superman Doomsday, the company has set the bar high for comic properties on DVD. So it was with certain expectations that we approached the fifth DC Universe film, Green Lantern: First Flight. Fans at this year’s Comic-Con were treated to a premiere of the film on Thursday, July 23, five days before the DVD is due to hit retail shelves. It’s likely that many of them walked away feeling a bit left down afterward, as the new film doesn’t have the depth or inspiration of DC’s previous offerings.

As the title implies, this is an origin story. The film introduces us to Hal Jordan (voiced by Christopher Meloni), a test pilot who comes upon a crashed ship and meets a dying alien in possession of a very special ring. The ring chooses Hal to become a Green Lantern, a member of an elite corps of warriors charged with protecting the galaxy, a sort of intergalactic police force. The Green Lantern Corps are governed by beings known as the Guardians of the Universe, who are in possession of a limitless source of power known as the green element. The element has only one vulnerability – the color yellow.

Shortly after obtaining the ring, Hal gets a visit from a group of fellow Green Lanterns, who take him to meet the Guardians. They aren’t thrilled with the idea of a human joining their ranks, but a Lantern known as Sinestro (voiced by Victor Garber) steps in and offers to take Hal under his wing. What follows is a sort of intergalactic Training Day, as Sinestro tests Hal for the ultimate showdown with an adversarial alien named Kanjar Ro (voiced by Kurtwood Smith), who has stolen another the yellow element, another powerful source of energy that rivals the green. But it turns out that Sinestro’s motives are not as pure as they may seem (which, considering his name is Sinestro, is not all that surprising, even if you know nothing about the comic-book mythology).

The film’s opening sequence, culminating in a spectacular transformation sequence that would be equally at home in an anime film, pulls you into the story right away, but then abandons Hal’s development as a character. The filmmakers seem less interested in his transition from an ordinary man into a intergalactic superhero, and in their eagerness to get him up into space and fighting aliens right away, the charm of the origin story is somewhat lost. Five minutes into the film, before the opening title sequence even begins, Hal is already wearing the ring and the costume. He accepts the mantle without question and it’s not long after that he’s standing before the Guardian council (on an alien planet no less), making quips like it’s something he does every day.

The struggle against Kanjar Ro, the search for the yellow element and the ultimate showdown with Sinestro once he goes rogue take up the bulk of the story. Hal proves himself to be brave and strong willed, but while the film doesn’t necessarily contradict anything in Hal Jordan’s backstory, it does gloss over some of that history and the major issues of his past – like the death of his father – that make him who he is. This is especially important for a character who doesn’t get much play outside of the justice league and isn’t quite as well known to the general public as characters like Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman.

Director Lauren Montgomery (who also directed Wonder Woman) handles the galactic scale of the film well. The violence is also more toned down here than in Wonder Woman, too, so it may play better with a younger audience. They’ll also probably enjoy the film’s bright colors and the all different forms of the various Green Lanterns (yes, even Ch’p makes an appearance). The main characters are attractively designed, although the animation of some of the non-Lantern aliens can be a bit simplistic at times. Green Lantern fans will recognize many of the background characters, though they’re not named and have no lines. The ones who do have lines include Boodikka (voiced by Tricia Helfer), who is saddled with most of the exposition in the film, Kilowog (voiced by Michael Madsen) and Tomar Re (voiced by John Larroquette).

If action-packed space battles and dramatic, science-fiction imagery are what you’re looking for in a film, then you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of this version of the Green Lantern story. But if you’d like a little bit of character development along with your combat then you may want to wait until the live-action feature, which will star, according to a recent announcement, Ryan Reynolds in the title role. Or just pick up a Green Lantern comic book and start reading.

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5 thoughts on “On Green Lantern: First Flight

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