It’s an origin story, yet test pilot Hal Jordan becomes Green Lantern by the 3 min 30 sec mark. Despite the hasty introduction, this animated, direct to DVD Green Lantern movie contains a lot of what fans have been waiting for. Massive outer space battles, grumpy Kilowog, a non-wimpy Sinestro, giant green flyswatters. Surely a live-action version couldn’t support the FX that First Flight boasts, and… What? Yes, I said giant green flyswatters. Yeah, that pisses me off too.
After a nearby spacecraft crashes nearby, test pilot Hal Jordan is summoned by the alien to inherit his power in the form of a green, super-powered ring. Instantaneously, Jordan is summoned to the center of the universe, an unwitting recruit into the Green Lantern Corps, a massive organization of interstellar law enforcers. Powered by cosmic energy rings, this multi-species Corp and their leaders The Guardians bring peace to the universe. They consider Hal Jordan’s recruitment a mistake and begin to send him back to Earth, but the highest-ranking Corps member Sinestro (say, that sounds like a friendly name) offers to train him on a trial basis. What follows is a cartoon version of Training Day in which Sinestro uses Hal to achieve a less than ethical objective.
Although I think he’s an iconic and cool comic book character, I have never been a fan of the Green Lantern mythology and I hope a lot of the silly stuff gets jettisoned for the live-action movie. It’s always been my biggest fear in regards to a live-action Green Lantern that he would use his ring to create ridiculous Earth objects to smite his enemies. Like giant green baseball bats, giant green shoes and giant green *shudder* golf clubs. Unfortunately in GL: First Flight, ALL of those giant green items make an appearance. At least he doesn’t yell “Fore!” while using the golf club, but still. You see, that’s why the powers in control over GL were seriously considering Jack Black to play the character in the live action film. The silly potential of the GL power is off the charts. You can bet your sweet cupcakes that Black would’ve created a giant green whoopie cushion or rear end to create some sort of flatulence joke.
Now we have Ryan Reynolds scoring the part and every intention by the producers to create a serious GL (so they say) instead of “green golf club-swinging” Green Lantern. Ok, enough of that. Here’s to crossing our fingers that the live action movie will hold the funk and bring the noise. Back to the review of the cartoon movie…
A lot of actors I like voice the various parts. Unfortunately few are suited to their characters. Chris Meloni (Law & Order: SVU) plays a gruff and cocky Hal Jordan which suited me fine. The rest didn’t fare so well. Michael Madsen grumbled so much as Kilowog, I couldn’t understand him. Kurtwood Smith (Robocop) and Larry Drake (Darkman) often play scary villains and movies but in a cartoon, their alien voices sound really loony. Sci-fi genre queens Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Olivia D’Abo (Conan the Destroyer) and Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire and Angel TV series) all seemed interchangable. Please, somebody get Christopher Walken, Clancy Brown and Michael Ironsides in on more voiceover villains. I’d pay to hear all of them talk.
Victor Garber (Alias) plays a surprisingly un-wimpy Sinestro. I always thought that character was one of the goofiest of DC villains, but his take on playing a “bad cop” character really got me interested in him. I hope the live-action version learns from this example.
El Cheapo animation strikes again. Besides a few CG shots, it never rises above Saturday morning cartoon quality. There’s also a great deal of toddler-pandering silliness: An alien Green Lantern squirrel for instance and like I said before, I can’t abide the lame use of giant green sporting equipment (I could SWEAR I saw it done much better in another cartoon). The Guardians still look like little blue rejects from a Harry Potter book… PLEASE make them pillars of blue energy or something less gnome-like in the live-action movie. And the alien design better be outstanding. I’m talkin’ Hellboy II quality.
Despite all the corny stuff, this near feature-length movie achieves some epic sci-fi greatness. Some great battles, betrayals, heroics and lots of green lasers make for a fun ride.
It was fun but even though I heard Sinestro use the word “bastard” in it, the cartoon still wasn’t near serious enough. Here’s hoping the live-action movie will be.
3 out of 5 stars.
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