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· 77 minutes
Directed by Lauren Montgomery
Written by Alan Burnett
· Christopher Meloni
· Victor Garber
· Michael Madsen
· Tricia Helfer
· Larry Drake
To correct and paraphrase Forrest Gump, life isn't like a box of chocolates, it's more like a bin of direct to dvd movies, you truly never know what you're going to get. It could be an underrated work of art, a great movie just not known by the general public, or it could be a steaming pile of crap not worthy to be amongst the crap that Hollywood shovels into your local multiplex.
As a movie lover I often go trawling through the direct to video section, hoping to find a great gem or at least something that's halway decent that can entertain me for an hour or two. And as a comic book fan, who almost feels obligated to seek out any movie that's based on a comic book being a fan of the character or universe they're adapting, when something gets made of that type I have to see it. Which means I've seen quite a bit of crap over the years. For every Dr. Strange, or Wonder Woman, I get a Superman: Doomsday or Ultimate Avengers 2 I make myself sit through, being more and more disappointed with each passing minute.
Which brings us to today's movie, Green Lantern: First Flight. I've been a Green Lantern fan since I was about 13 years old, more specifically the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, the one that non comic fans know mostly as 'the white one'. Which is really a disservice to the character if I've ever seen, to just be boiled down to the race of the character is really kind of sad in this day and age. Yet, I digress. This is the incarnation of the character that Hollywood has decided to take notice to, with Ryan Reynolds signing on to star in a live action version hitting theaters in the next year or two. But that movie is, like I said a bit far off for right now, so we have the animated movie to keep us tided over till then.
Hal Jordan (voice of Christopher Meloni-Law and Order: SVU) is a test pilot for Ferris Industries. While testing out one of their simulators, he is transported by a mysterious glowing energy over to a crashed UFO where a dying alien named Abin Sur tells him the ring has chosen him to be the next Green Lantern.
Not too long after that, Hal is approached by fellow Green Lanterns Sinestro (voice of Victor Garber: Alias), Kilowogg (voice of Michael Madsen-Reservoir Dogs), and Boodika (voice of Tricia Helfer-Battlestar Galactica) to come with them to the Green Lantern headquarters on OA for observation and training. The Guardians, a race of immortals and founders of the Corps show mostly nothing but disdain for Jordan and for humanity in general, but Sinestro takes Jordan under his wing, and they go to find the creature that killed Abin Sur.
Most superhero movies take a good half hour at the least to set up the action and let you know about the characters normal identity first before getting into the super hero action that you paid to see. Not in this case, Hal's origin story is told within the first five minutes of the movie, and getting straight to the action after that. It's a bold choice, and me personally I would have liked to see a little more of Hal Jordan and his relationship with his boss Carol Ferris (voice of Olivia D'Abo- The Wonder Years) but director Lauren Montgomery-(Wonder Woman) chose to dispense with the origins fairly quickly, likely because his origin was covered in more detail in the excellent Justice League-The New Frontier movie that was released last year. The skipping ahead works out in my case, a long time fan familiar with the character and universe he inhabits, but from a non fan's perspective that could've been fleshed out a little more.
What also could have been fleshed out in the script by Alan Burnett (Batman: The Animated Series) just a little more is what drives the ring and Green Lantern's power, established in the comics recently by writer Geoff Johns the Green Lantern ring, and the Corps as a whole is an extension of pure will power, and not just some random green energy. In that same token the ring's only weakness, the color Yellow, sounds silly to fans and non fans alike, but within the depth that it's taken recently, Yellow representing pure Fear, to sum it up, it would have been more clear, and less comic book silly.
The only other flaw with the script is the inclusion of the villian Kanjar Ro (voice of Kurtwood Smith-Robocop, That 70's Show) as the force behind Abin Sur's murder. In the comics, it was a villain by the name of Atrocitus, who was a much more interesting character that I'm not sure why he wasn't included in this script rather than a second rate Justice League villain.
Enough about the writing though, the voice cast they have for this movie is near perfection. Christopher Meloni takes some getting used to as Hal Jordan, but he does an admirable job as the cocky Jordan. Victor Garber was the perfect choice for the role of Sinestro, he brings the perfect amount of nobility and anger that the character needed. It's just a shame he doesn't exactly look the part for whenever they cast the live action version. Michael Madsen's supporting role is Kilowogg was just spot on as well, they could not have picked a better voice for the character.
The animation, and you have to talk about the animation in an animated movie is some of the best I've seen in a non theatrical 2-D animated movie. It was a wise choice to include Thomas Perkins (Ben 10: Alien Force) as a character designer, as his experience in creating unique aliens for that show pays off in wonders here, not a single alien looks the same, or like anything you 've seen before in the sci fi genre, and that's saying something.
The real major flaw on the technical side is the lazy score by David Shepard (Spider-Man 3, Drag Me To Hell). It sounds more like something taken from generic superhero cue #47 as opposed to anything memorable. It was really repetitive and even took me out of the movie a few times when the music should have been enhancing the action on screen.
Green Lantern is a truly entertaining movie. It's an exciting rollercoaster of a movie that never stops and leaves you wanting more, which is a rarity in the direct to dvd animated movie department. You get swept up in these alien world along with Hal Jordan, who just goes along for the ride basically and you're right there with him. It's also a plus that it's entertaining, but not in the sense that you have to turn your brain off to enjoy like the latest Transformers movie. If you're a comic fan you may have to turn that part of your brain off at times, but if you're just your average guy or lady that likes the occasional bit of superhero or sci fi action then you won't even notice or care that Sinestro is wearing his Sinestro Corps outfit when he didn't start wearing that until later on. If that last sentance means nothing to you, you'll enjoy the movie as much as someone who might complain about that. Me personally I just thought it was awesome.
Green Lantern: First Flight is a doubly rare direct to dvd treat. It's a great superhero/sci fi movie, that can be enjoyed by the whole family. There's a lot of crap out there, and I see it almost daily, but it's nice to see that quality entertainment isn't just the stuff of dreams anymore. Go watch Green Lantern: First Flight today and you won't be disappointed, if anything you'll want more. Till next time, be sure to 'Keep it Reel.'.