With the live-action Green Lantern coming out on the 17th of this month, I thought it appropriate to review the animated version of Green Lantern this week, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights next week. The first time I watched this film, I remember being a little disappointed by the movie, and I think my first assessment of the film was a bit harsh. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know that I expected too much.
Upon rewatching the movie, however, I can officially say that I loved this movie and I can’t wait for the live action film.
Story – Unlike most DC Animated films, Green Lantern: First Flight isn’t based off of any specific comic story. It takes elements from Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn and the Secret Origins storyline from Geoff Johns in the main GL title. Setting out to tell their own GL origin story has its strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, not being trapped to one specific story allows for the film to explore whatever they like. On the other hand, not being based upon one specific story runs the risk of trampling on the source material.
As I stated in my review of Batman: Under the Red Hood, there is a strange and interesting dichotomy between how accurate a film is to its source material and how good the movie actually is. This film doesn’t worry about adapting on specific story and because of that, it should be judged upon its own merits rather than in comparison to a storyline.
The film begins with Hal Jordan getting his ring from the dying Abin Sur and follows his training under Sinestro and a plot to destroy the Lantern Corps. While Sinestro’s motivations are never fully explored in any real meaningful way, the subtle hints at how evil he is are beautiful touches that perfectly establish just how threatening he can be.
Considering how richly complex the Green Lantern mythology has become in recent years, it would be impossible to include every necessary detail about the Guardians and Green Lantern, but this movie does an excellent job of setting up the basics of mythology. Here’s hoping that Emerald Knights delves into it more.
Acting – Christopher Meloni voices Hal Jordan and while he has a commanding voice, it lacks that sense of cockiness that makes Jordan so likable.
Victor Garber expertly takes on the role of Sinestro. He plays the character coldly, and never melodramatically. The Sinestro of this film is as calculating and cold as his comic book counterpart. His motivations may not be complex, but he is still frightening and sadistic.
Michael Madsen is gruff as Kilowog, but the character is written a little comically. Rather than being the honorable, tough-as-nails drill instructor, this film portrays Kilowog as the obese comic relief. Madsen doesn’t do much to make the character much more than this.
Still, while Meloni and Madsen aren’t who I would have chosen for this film, Andrea Romano does as excellent of a job as ever in voice direction. Her actors always give great performances and this is in no small part due to her direction.
Design – Most impressive of all has to be the design work. The animation in this film (while not the best of all the DC Animated movies . . . but only because there have been some amazing animation in the past) is excellent. All of the main characters look appropriately powerful, but without being overly bulky or disproportionate. Crafting unique alien worlds and ring constructs can either make or break this movie and while some of the ring constructs could have been a little more exotic (meaning there were a lot of green beams, green hands, and the like), the character designs were very impressive.
In order to cheapen animation, sometimes animators will craft alien worlds that are populated with generic lizard men. This film never falls back on that simple, but often used, design and the world the film has crafted is unique because of it.
Most impressive of all is the redesign of the Weaponers of Qward. The normal DCU Weaponers have always looked really lame to me, but this film transformed them into creepy pink spiders that really seem alien and a bit menacing.
While I would have liked to have seen Parallax in this film, it’s still a very solid movie and well worth watching (or rewatching) in order to get excited for the next animated film and the new movie out in a few weeks.