CCI: Green Lantern - First Flight Review

"Green Lantern: First Flight" played to a packed house in Ballroom Twenty Thursday Night at Comic-Con International. The crowd was aglow with t-shirts from the various Corps. While the Green Lanterns dominated, it was nice to see several Blue Lanterns.

Before the film, producer Bruce Timm came on stage to lead the crowd of over 3600 people in reciting the Green Lantern Oath.

The film opens with the familiar staples of the origin. Ace test pilot Hal Jordon cracks wise to the consternation of his boos, Carol Ferris, while using a flight simulator. Meanwhile, an alien craft is soon to crash on Earth. As it does, the pilot orders his power ring to look for "him."

Back at the simulator room, a burst of green light grabs Jordan, and his simulator. When he arrives at the crash site, the alien pilot, Abin Sur, announces that the ring has chosen Jordan to replace him as a member of the Green Lantern Corps.

Jordan uses his new found powers to return the simulator to Carol.

Shortly afterward, a group of Green Lanterns lead by Honor Guard Sinestro arrive on Earth to escort Jordan to Oa, the headquarters of the Corps and home of their superior, the Guardians of the Universe. Once there, we learn no Earthling has ever been invited into the Corps and some of the Guardians challenge the rings selection of Jordan. One Guardian, Ganthet, counters the argument by the very fact the ring selected an Earthman at all. Sinestro offers to take Jordan under his wing as they track down the person responsible for Abin Sur's death.

If you are fan of "Green Lantern," you might have an idea who, ultimately, is responsible, what his aims are, and the sort of weapon he might end up using.

Like the previous DC Universe film, "Wonder Woman," "First Flight" does an admirable job establishing the core characters and concepts. Its greatest success is the fact you want more time with the characters and the world immediately after the film ends. Directed by Lauren Montgomery -- who also directed "Wonder Woman" -- the world of "First Flight" is probably the most varied and vibrant. When Sinestro and Jordan arrive on an alien planet to track down Sur's killer, the background alien characters look as interesting as the leads. The fight scenes in the film, particularly the big bash at the end, are well realized. They have heft, power, and a surprising amount of gore.

For fans of the Corps, several Lanterns appear in major and minor roles. Kilowog, to no one's surprise, steals every scene he appears in. Kilowog is played by Michael Madsen; who brings his trademark gravely voice to the part. He is a great fit for the character. Alpha Lantern Boodikka appears in the film in her normal GL form. Played by Tricia Helfer, she appears sympathetic to Jordan, but may have ulterior motives. Also appearing, but not voiced, are Katma Tui and Arisia make visual striking appearances. Sadly, no Mogo in this film, but Ch'p occasionally offers a one-liner or two.

The movie does an admirable job condensing the origin of Hal Jordan into seventy minutes. The plot feels a little rushed in certain sections while we wait for Sinestro to reveal his true aims. Once he does, however, the film picks up a head of steam leading to one of the great animated space battles. Incorporating elements from "Secret Origin" and "The Sinestro Corps War," the film has a lot to accomplish and most of the realization is well done. In one scene, Sinestro visits the world of Qward to pick up his yellow power ring. While Qward is presented as being in the normal universe, the Qwardians make reference to their true home. Little details like this will please fans of the material.

Also, if you ever wanted to see the Yellow Power Battery attack Oa, this is your chance.

Christopher Meloni makes a great Hal Jordan. Rarely seen in the older Timm DC Animated Universe, it is clear the producer has very specific vision of the character. Now appearing in this and "Justice League: the New Frontier," the Hal Jordan of these films is good hearted with a slightly smoking voice, evoking a great deal of "The Right Stuff" can-do attitude that influenced the original comics of the 1960s. The stand out, though, is Victor Garber as Sinestro. With Garber's voice, Sinestro has shades of madness, seductiveness, and aloofness. He is probably the strongest villain in a DC Universe film to date.

A special mention should go out to voice director Andrea Romano, who always finds great people to voice these characters and always gets great work out of them. From the leads, to the background voices, it is always pleasing to hear each performance come from somewhere that feels genuine. It is easy to phone in this type of work, but these films, and the DCAU series before it, always avoid it.

"Green Lantern: First Flight" is a welcome portrayal of the material. It shows the appropriate scale and scope of the concept. It illustrates the characters in their best light and, most crucially, makes you wish "Green Lantern" was its own ongoing animated series. Over the last several years, the "Green Lantern" property has crystallized into one of the stronger stables of material and characters in DC's library. "First Flight" is a great introduction to that world and a fun space adventure.

"Green Lantern: First Flight" is on sale today.

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