Aug 4, 2009

[Movies] Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

Green Latern: First FlightDC Comics has been pretty in the direct-to-video movie market starting with Superman/Doomsday and most recently with Wonder Woman. The movies have been pretty mixed in terms of quality and I've enjoyed some but not necessarily all given the liberties they tend to take with the characters in terms of how they're depicted.

One can argue that it's inevitable for that to happen - adaptations of this nature are all about the money and not so much creating 100% faithful adaptations of the original work. It's usually because of the studios wanting certain things to happen that just interfere with the plot or perhaps even the writers wanting to play around with the characters and bring them in new directions. I can take certain liberties here and there, but other items are fundamental to the character.

I felt too much of that was sacrificed in this animated feature.

Green Lantern: First Flight chose not to follow the time and tested "formula" of superhero stories that deal heavily on the origin story and then cram together the ultimate confrontation with the villain. They didn't do that here and pretty much just skimmed through how he came to be and then pushed forward with the real story, which was probably a good idea. Most folks who would pick up the DVD had a higher likelihood of being familiar with something about the character, hence the willingness to buy it in the first place.

Sinestro as a member of the Green Lantern Corp...Image via Wikipedia

So in terms of the core story, the movie had Hal Jordan / Green Lantern (Christopher Meloni) encountering the Green Lantern Corp and eventually finding himself under the wing of the Green Lantern Sinestro (Victor Garber), said to be one of if not the greatest Lanterns in the Corps. As Jordan follows Sinestro around, he begins to see that there's something wrong with Sinestro's philosophy about things and the hard line stance he takes in meting out justice, which eventually reveals a much larger conspiracy afoot.

Animation-wise, it's pretty much par for the course for these DC features, although I'm glad they gave up the weird soft look they tried with Superman/Doomsday. The action sequences were decent and the use of CGI was kept somewhat muted except when showing key objects like the Central Battery on Oa.

Not to sound like too much of a fan, but I felt their interpretation of the Green Lantern universe was way far off, which is ironic given all the attention the Green Lantern books are somewhat getting given the on-going Blackest Night crossover event. To name a few major things were (1) the Guardians had unique names, character quirks and worst of all EMOTIONS! What happened to their dedication to logic as a tool to fight the evil in the universe? Then there was (2) the fact that the rings were capable of lethal force when in the original story, that was one of the biggest prohibitions, at least up until the Book of Oa was re-written in recent books. And don't get me started on (3) just how well they still seemed to be able to manipulate yellow objects despite claiming they were still subject to the vulnerability to that color. The list goes on and on.

Story-wise, it was fairly decent, although despite the strong language here and there, it had the complexity that a grade school student could understand, but not much beyond that. And some of the resulting plot devices were odd, like how the source of the Green Lantern's power was something called the green element - god knows what it was supposed to represent. Gone was the whole thing about the green rings being powered by willpower.

So if I cast my fan complaints aside, I didn't feel the movie was all that remarkable. It didn't really strike me significantly and in this case, this actually felt like a direct-to-video movie, which is not a good thing. Hopefully DC will do better with their next run.

Green Lantern: First Flight gets 3.5 flying yellow lantern batteries out of 5.

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