DC has always had a superb animation team. It must be one of the perks that comes with being owned by the company who created Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Look at some of the cartoons DC has had in the past: Batman: The Animated Series, Teen Titans, and Justice League Unlimited, just to name a few. So now that DC has moved into full-length, direct-to-DVD films, they are trying to maintain their quality of animation. And it’s working.
Their newest offering is Green Lantern: First Flight. The plot of the film tells the story of how Hal Jordan became the Green Lantern and how he had to prove himself within the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps. He goes head-to-head with his arch-enemy, Sinestro, and proves to the Guardians and the rest of the Corps that he is worthy to wear the ring. The movie is full of action, with lots of violence and murder. In short, it’s fun to watch, and not expected from one of the Big Two in comics. With all of the new animated movies coming out, it’s plain to see that both Marvel and DC are pushing the envelope a little bit harder these days. This is, of course, a welcome change to the days when the Comics Code required everything be watered down and kiddie-like.
The story is well-written, concentrating on Hal Jordan and Sinestro. But it lacks something in the long-run. We see how much of a badass Hal Jordan is but, since the film starts with him receiving the ring, we never really find out why. The audience is left to assume that his will is much more powerful than his enemy’s, an idea that is illustrated throughout the movie, but there is never any explanation to support this theory. The writers also managed to create a nice balance between action and comedy. There have been too many movies that have disappointed because the filmmakers didn’t know when to stop with the shitty tongue-in-cheek jokes. Thankfully, the writers of Green Lantern know what would be funny, and when, and leave it at that.
The animation itself is very well done. Blending traditional 2-D animation with 3-D animation, the film has a nice depth to it that not many animated movies have been able to pull off. The 3-D aspects are not overdone, so they don’t inundate the audience. They are also smoothly blended, so the times they are used are not blaringly obvious. However, there are times when the transition is not perfect, and the 3-D sticks out like a sore thumb. But these moments are few and far between, so it does not detract from the viewing experience too much.
Another great aspect of the movie is the voice acting. Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) isn’t the kind of actor you would expect to voice the main character in a comic book movie, but he is perfect for the role. Ten years in the role as a hardened police detective was enough of a pre-cursor to become one of the most beloved wielders of the Green Lantern ring. Victor Garber plays Sinestro to perfection. His cold inflection and almost poetic enunciation makes the viewer feel the contempt that Sinestro has for the Green Lantern Corps. Garber brings so much power to the role. Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen, and John Larroquette round out the big-name voices in the movie, and though they don’t really add anything recognizable to the film, at least their performances don’t detract from it.
I’m not one to watch the special features on most of my DVD’s, but I made an exception on the Green Lantern. One of the reasons why is the behind the scenes featurette on the upcoming movie of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
They don’t give much information on where the film stands now. Though the visuals of the feature concentrate on the comic book version of Public Enemies, I was happy to see as much animation as they showed. There will be a shitload of characters in the movie, both heroes and villains, and they talk about one huge fight scene that starts big and ends bigger. I have never read the comic story, but after learning that it was written by Jeph Loeb, then I am lead to believe that it is good. And if the animation team can keep up with their most recent films, then this one will not disappoint. DC also made the right choice in casting the original voice actors for the stars of Public Enemies. Tim Daly as Superman. Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. And Kevin Conroy as Batman. These voices are so ingrained in my mind and so connected with these characters that I get offended when I hear another voice coming from their mouths. With how much I liked The Brave and the Bold and Deidrich Bader, I cringed every time Batman spoke in that show. Kevin Conroy is the epitome of Batman, and I’m so happy that they brought him back for Public Enemies. Not to mention the other actors that they secured. Allison Mack, from Smallville will play Power Girl. Xander Berkeley, from 24, is Captain Atom. LeVar Burton is Black Lightning. Even if you watched this movie with your eyes closed, it will still be amazing.
There is also a nice feature about DC’s newest event, Blackest Night. I’m glad that someone, like me, who is not entirely familiar with the DC heroes, is able to get a background on what the hell is going on. I picked up the first issue of Blackest Night and was completely lost when I read it. Now, I can kind of understand what is happening, and should be at least able to follow it when I go through the rest of the issues.
Even if you have no intentions of purchasing Green Lantern: First Flight, you should at least rent it. This is a film for anyone who likes the Green Lantern. It’s for anyone who likes super hero movies. At first glance, it would seem that this is another animated movies aimed at kids. But the depth of story works for fans of all ages. Hell, even the special features themselves are worth the three bucks to rent it from Blockbuster.