Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DVD Review: Green Lantern: First Flight by Roger V.

Green Lantern's a hot property these days - Ryan Reynolds was picked to star as the emerald ambassador in a big-budget movie, the "Blackest Night" storyline's the talk of the comic book world and "Green Lantern: First Flight" is the latest DC Universe animated movie.

As an longtime GL fan, the good news about "First Flight" was that it features Hal Jordan as sector 2814's protector. It was OK to use Kyle Rayner as the animated GL in the Superman Animated Series, but a full-length (77 minutes) film deserves Hal Jordan as its centerpiece.

That's also the bad part about "First Flight." While Hal's the alleged star, the script unfolds like of a Tales of the Green Lantern Corps story, with the focus on renegade ringbearer Sinestro.

Other Green Lantern Corps regulars such as Kilowog and Tomar Re are represented as well, but Sinestro is established as the greatest Green Lantern of them all, at least until Jordan arrives.

Where "First Flight" really soars is how it illustrates how Jordan's shortcomings regarding patience and studying a situation before acting are balanced with his bravery and imagination - while others are using their rings in a linear manner as energy pistols, Jordan comes up all manner of creative constructs. It's clear that the staid Guardians of the Universe could use a little shake up in the ranks.

However, the fantastic portrayal of Jordan doesn't extend to other characters. In addition to practically deifying Sinestro (perhaps this was a statement about his eventual fall from grace), comic book fans will find fault with the likenesses of Kanjar Ro and Abin Sur.

Early Justice League villain Kanjar Ro can't catch a break. In the Brave & Bold animated series he's pumped up on steroids. Here, he looks just like his henchmen (and Abin Sur for that matter), only he's wearing an outfit that makes him look like royalty. I want the space helmet and the fly-like eyes, not an alien with some kind of skin or growth drooping off his face like something out of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" or Davy Jones from "Pirates of the Caribbean." And why can't Abin Sur's skin be red? Did they think the audience would confuse him with Sinestro?

Granted, to some people this probably comes off as nitpicking. But when Green Lantern's your favorite character, you expect more. "Green Lantern" First Flight" has its moments, but it's not something I expect I'll watch over and over.

EXTRAS: The best features are "Behind the Story with Geoff Johns" and "Behind the Scenes of Blackest Night," both almost nine minutes long. Green Lantern writer Johns is featured heavily in both, with comic book panels mixed in and a recap of the post-rebirth Hal Jordan and this summer's DC zombie fest, respectively. It's compelling enough to make me want to read the "Blackest Night" tale, even though part of me thinks, "didn't Marvel do a zombie storyline recently." The Geoff Johns piece is on the second disc and not part of the bare-bones release.

There are also sneak peaks (two 10 minutes long, one seven) of the next DC Universe animated release - Superman/Batman Public Enemies" - and past releases "Wonder Woman" and "Gotham Knights." They come off as staff love fests and ads for the DVDs, although the Wonder Woman one had the nice tidbit about writer William Marston not only coming up with the idea of a magic lasso, but the real-world version as well in the lie detector.

On the second disc, the remaining special features are short (around four minutes each) profiles of Sinestro and the Guardians of the Universe and animated shows from the Warner Brothers vaults - a two-part Justice League tale called "The Once and Future Thing," which really doesn't have much to do with Green Lantern, and the "Duck Dodgers" episode "The Green Loontern."

The parody is a nice bonus, since hardcore GL fans wouldn't want to buy a whole DVD of Duck Dodgers and it's a pretty amusing take on Daffy as a green lantern, complete with Sinestro and many recognizable characters.

Finally, my Best Buy exclusive had the ultra-posable Infinite Heroes Green Lantern/Hal Jordan. What's nice is that the added posability hasn't taken away from the figure's form - too often such figures seemed to have legs, arms or torsos that are too rounded or otherwise deformed. At a glance, you wouldn't know it's different than the regular release. Definitely worth the extra cash if you've already decided to shell out the dough for the two-disc version.

By Roger V.
Staff Reviewer

No comments: