Thursday, May 15, 2014

Want to see a good Green Lantern movie? Then watch Green Lantern: First Flight -- a 2009 animated film from Warner Bros. The $6 million, 75-minute feature film first aired on Cartoon Network (which is also owned by Warner Bros.) before being released on DVD and Blu-ray. In its first two months, 259,000 units were sold, and after two years the public had purchased 489,000 DVDs and Blu-rays.

The Green Lantern origin story plays beneath the opening credits, because, quite frankly, that's not very interesting. What's interesting is how Hal Jordan reacts to becoming a superhero. The plot has Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) taken to the Green Lantern Corps headquarters on the planet Oa, where he is trained by the senior Green Lantern, Sinestro (Victor Garber). It seems that Abin Sur, the Green Lantern who died and bequeathed his ring to Hal Jordan, was killed while searching for a "yellow element" on the ship of space pirate Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith). Unbeknownst to anyone else, Sinestro betrayed Abin Sur because he wants to turn the "yellow element" into a power battery which will make him the most powerful ring-bearer in the universe.

Novice Jordan is alarmed by Sinestro's belief that the Guardians merely "pick up the messes" left by criminals and do nothing to proactively stop crime. When Jordan is framed for the crime of killing Kanjar Ro, he enlists fellow Lanterns Boodikka (Tricia Helfer) and Kilowog (Michael Madsen) into helping him, but is himself betrayed.

In the anti-matter universe of Qward, the "yellow element" is fashioned into a power battery and power ring, and given to Sinestro...

What is Sinestro's evil plan? Can Hal Jordan stop him before his green power-ring succumbs to the yellow energy? Can Hal clear his name? Will Hal Jordan, too, be betrayed? How can a Green Lantern stop a Yellow Lantern when yellow always beats green???

Green Lantern: First Flight had excellent (albeit, somewhat uninspired) character design. Nonetheless, the quality of the animation was smooth, and many of the shots and scenes inspired for their unique perspective and interesting choreography. The film was cleanly written, with the main villain interacting extensively with Hal Jordan. Jordan's own inexperience and hesitation as a "newbie" was brought out very well, but so was his self-assurance and his belief that Abin Sur chose him for a reason.

There was little reliance on flashy backgrounds, too-extensive overflights of vast cities, or empty scenes (meant to build tension) where Hal Jordan does nothing. (This latter is a big problem with the Marvel Studios animated films.)

By the way, the number of deaths in the film is startlingly high. Several hundred on-screen!

Sinestro is the major villain in Green Lantern: First Flight. He's a well-characterized villain, not a cut-out by any means.

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