Green Lantern First Flight (US - BD)
In brightest day, in blackest night, no DC Blu-ray shall escape Marcus's sight...
While on a routine flight simulation, Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) is mysteriously transported to a space wreck in the middle of the desert and to the side of dying alien, Abin Sur. Having a green power ring passed to him Hal becomes the new Green Lantern, and after being taken under the wing of the greatest Lantern of them all, Sinestro (Victor Garber), Hal discovers that the universe may be in more danger than anyone suspects.
Let me start this review by saying ‘Thank you DC Universe for finally giving Hal Jordan his own movie!’ Hal Jordon has always been a hell of a character in the DC Universe and to have him front and centre in his own movie is a joy, even if this project isn’t exactly perfect.
As with the other DC Universe animated movies, we’re treated to an adaptation full of respect and more so love of the characters they’re depicting. Big events are covered, merging the different takes on characters over the years and coming together seamlessly as DC continue to leave Marvel’s animated movies for dust.
With Green Lantern they opt for an origin story, as they did with Wonder Woman, but rather than play is slowly like they did with the princess they fly through events with a lightning pace, getting us into full on Lantern in space mode before you even get time to ask ‘that ring does what?’. This does and doesn't work. It doesn’t because we don’t get to see Hal as a normal guy for more than a few lines of dialogue. We don’t know where he’s come from, who he is, nor are we given an opportunity to see him come to terms with this new power thrust upon him. He just seems to say ‘yeah’ to all the other worldly requests thrown at him and in many ways he just becomes our eyes as we enter this new world of universe protectors and power rings. On the flipside, this enables us to grow into these otherworldly circumstances with Hal. You’ll find yourself accessing the situations Hal’s put in, such as Sinestro’s vicious interrogation of an informant and the coldness of the little blue fellas and in quite a refreshing way this origin story seems to evolve effortlessly toward depicting Hal as the greatest Green Lantern ever without forcing many of the age old clichés down our throats.
What’s also played out well is the relationship between Sinestro and Hal. They’ve always been one of the strongest and complicated pairing in the DC Universe and seeing this played out with such an obvious understanding of their history was thoroughly rewarding. Also, besides their personalities clashing they have some damn exciting fisticuffs. Massively epic uses of the rings are shown off, especially in the closing scenes and seeing what Hal does with two moons and a whole lot of green power, was some ridiculously exciting stuff.
Another nice touch was just how much screen time was given to the supporting Lanterns. Kilowog (Michael Madsen) has a superb character arc and I got a real kick out the moment he flies off to save Hal, who’s drifting off in space. There’s a real feeling of a formed friendship and really one that deserved this amount of attention.
First Flights is a great showcase of Green Lantern. The action is top notch, the sci-fi elements are blown up to crazy levels, there are some gruesome and totally effective deaths (for a PG-13 anyway) and by the end of the hour and twenty minutes we have had a full look at the Green Lantern basics, providing a thoroughly lived in, thoroughly entertaining and thoroughly great look at the awesomeness of Hal Jordan as the greatest Green Lantern of them all. Now all I can hope for is a great adaptation that captures all this and more in the upcoming live action project with Ryan Reynolds and on a more personal note, a hope that the DC Universe guys and gals adapt the Emerald Twilight storyline in the future.
Well once again 2D animation looks perfect in HD. Bold colours, a beautifully sharp image and just a great showcase for the craft. The scale of this looks absolutely mesmerising in places with rings of rocks around planets, the bright glow of the green and yellow power rings making everything shine and generally taking the fine work of the DC team and showing it off for the entire runtime.
Considering that these projects are done with moderate budgets and of course don’t have the final bit of sheen that they might have if they went for theatrical release, the DC Universe Blu-rays are always impressive and Green Lantern, with it striking colours and great designs against space backdrops or vast landscapes has moments of looking absolutely staggering. Seriously, I can’t get enough of 2D animation in high definition.
The TrueHD track here is probably the best out of the DC Universe catalogue so far. It’s maybe not as effective as a big budget movie but its spread across the entire speaker system well and has a lot of subtly brilliant moments.
The first thing that became noticeable was how well the track captured the size of some of the sets. There’s a good use of echo in the meeting room and even in the Lantern Corps canteen, as well as some nicely placed atmospherics such as the whirring of a ships engine, the buzzing of lights or the multi levels within the action going on. Also there’s a great show off moment when the sky rains with Lantern rings and they all chink as they hit the floor around the Corps. It was simple but really effective stuff.
The track gets aggressive with the explosions during the finale and while they are not on the scale of a big blockbuster, they show off the track's power even if the bass levels could have done with a little more oomph.
I’ll start with the preview for ‘Superman/Batman: Public Enemies’(07:49 SD), the next animated project due later in the year. This one really looks like it’s going to be a blast, with one hell of great cast led by Tim Daley and Kevin Conroy. This preview doesn’t really show off much in regards to finished animation but it’s a nice teaser.
‘Green Lantern: Behind The Story With Geoff Johns’ (08:41 SD) has the writer discussing what makes a good Lantern story before reminding us of his work on Green Lantern: Rebirth (which I consider one of the biggest cop outs in comic history) and his current Lantern work.
‘I am the Ring’ (22:31 SD) is another one of the bloody great DC documentaries showing how their characters fit into classic mythology. This one focuses on how Green Lantern is part of the hero’s journey when the Lantern gets compared to Aladdin, King Arthur and Popeye.
‘In Blackest Day, In Blackest Night’ takes a short look at both Sinestro (04:01 SD) and Guardians of the Galaxy (03:40 SD) and ‘Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event’ (08:52 SD) looks at a story arc running in the comics.
The extra Justice League cartoons this time out are ‘Once and Future Thing’ Parts one and two, ‘Hearts and Minds’ parts one and two and ‘The Return’, all running at twenty three minutes. As always they are a joy to re-watch but as a bonus we get an episode of Duck Dodgers (22:22 SD) in which Daffy Duck becomes a Green Lantern and has plenty of guest appearances from other Lanterns such as Kilowog and Sinestro as well as a Kevin Smith voiced Hal Jordan.
Last up are the extended previews of New Frontier (10:45 SD), Gotham Knight (10:11 SD) and Wonder Woman (10:26 SD).
It's great how this Lantern movie doesn't shy away from the goofy sci-fi concept that’s at the core of Green Lantern and more so how the well written and depicted characters transcend it all, highlighting that Hal Jordan's Green Lantern is every bit as great as the bigger names in the DC universe.
Green Lantern: First Flight is another great addition to the ever growing DC Universe catalogue on all fronts, even if the story itself feels like it misses a few key moments in first half. It's not quite the strongest of the batch (which for me, is still the Wonder Woman movie), but this is a Green Lantern to have a lot of fun with and one we'll hopefully see more from in the future.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 28th July 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: I am The Ring, Behind the Story with Geoff Johns", "Behind the Scenes of Blackest Night DC Superhero Event"), Character Profiles of Sinestro and the Guardians of the Universe, Duck Dodgers Series Episode The Green Loontern, 5 bonus cartoons chosen by Bruce Timm, Public Enemies preview, DC Unvierse featurettes.
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Cast: Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Drama, Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Length: 77 minutes
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