Movie Review: Green Lantern: First Flight

DC's straight-to-DVD animated movies are some of the best superhero movies around. I liked Wonder Woman, but downright loved Justice League: A New Frontier. In many ways, they're better than the live-action movies. Not only are they not restrained by a special effects budget (it's just as easy to animate monsters as it is to animate people), but they're also not afraid to let the superheroes be themselves. More often than not, live action superhero movies are more about the actor portraying the superhero than the superhero himself (I'm looking at you, Iron Man and The Dark Knight). Does Green Lantern: First Flight continued the goodwill that was built up by the previous animated movies?

Much of the plot is familiar to Green Lantern fans. Hal Jordan discovers a dying Abin Sur, a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Sur gives Hal the Green Lantern ring, a powerful weapon that the Corps use to police the universe. Hal zooms off to Oa (home of the Guardians of the Universe, who created the Corps) for training. The Guardians are in the midst of a crisis; the yellow element, which is kind of like antithetical to the green element that powers the rings of the Green Lantern Corps, has been stolen right from under the Guardians' noses. One of the Guardians' best Lanterns, Sinestro, is assigned the task of retrieving the yellow element. But Sinestro has his own agenda: he views the Guardians as weak, slaves to an ideology that no longer applies in a universe in which criminal deviance is ever-increasing. As a noob, Hal has to overcome not only the general distrust of the Green Lantern Corps towards him, but also save the universe from Sinestro's devious plans.

Although this is an origin story, it doesn't dwell too much on those boring origin cliches that grind some superhero movies to a halt, as the hero slowly discovers his super powers and comes to a "Holy crap, look what I can do!" revelation. It also wastes very little time on on boring-old Earth before zooming Hal off into space for intergalactic adventure.

Despite the quick pace, both Hal and Sinestro get their fair share of character development. Actually, you might argue that this is a Sinestro-centric movie as it primarily explores his motivations. That's not a bad thing; of course, a superhero is only as cool as his arch nemesis.

I love the animation, the styling of which moves ever further from the Bruce Timm animation style that suffocated DC cartoons in the 90s. The proportions of the characters are more comic-booky, less cartoony. And the action follows suit; there isn't any of that "this is a superhero cartoon for kids and nobody dies" crap, the Lanterns are put in dangerous situations from which not all of them return, which really helps the movie by making them vulnerable.

The movie doesn't skimp on showcasing those secondary Green Lanterns that fans love. There's Kilowog, Boodikka, Tomar Re, and even Ch'p. Sure, there are some on my wish list that didn't make the cut, but it's cool to see a lot of the oldies-but-goodies in there.

This is a movie that fulfills my expectations for Green Lantern awesomeness by providing much of what makes Green Lantern cool: great costumes, a Corps full of weird aliens fighting other weird aliens in exotic environments, and space adventure with lots of epic battles. And to top it all off, the animation is pretty sweet. All things considered, it's one of the stronger DC animated movies, if not the strongest.

Still, I wouldn't say it's something that I would watch over and over again. Maybe I'm a curmudgeonly old snot, but animated movies just don't get me all that excited, at least enough to warrant a perfect score. Maybe if the animation was mind-blowing like a Miyazaki movie, I'd bump it up to a 5.

So what does this mean for the live action movie? It means that it has big shoes to fill. Will the live action movie realize that what we want to see is Green Lantern in all his shiny emerald glory? Or will it try to force Ryan Reynolds down our throats while minimizing the character that we all love? We'll see!

DISCLAIMER: All items reviewed on Dork Dimension were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. The opinions expressed on Dork Dimension are solely those of the author and are presented for entertainment purposes only.