Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Green Lantern: First Flight" Struggles on the Runway

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 42 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) – straight-to-video
Running minutes: 77 minutes (1 hour, 17 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence
DIRECTOR: Lauren Montgomery
WRITER: Alan Burnett
PRODUCER: Bruce W. Timm
EDITOR: Rob Desales
COMPOSER: Robert Kral
ANIMATION STUDIO: Telecom Animation Film Co., Ltd.


Starring: (voices) Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen, John Larroquette, Kurtwood Smith, Larry Drake, William Schallert, Malachi Throne, Olivia d’Abo, Richard Green, Juliet Landau, David L. Lander, and Richard McGonagle

Green Lantern: First Flight is a 2009 direct-to-video superhero animated film from Warner Bros. Animation. Starring DC Comics character, Green Lantern, this is also the fifth feature in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. The film is adapted from the DC Comics’ Green Lantern mythology.

Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) is the ace test pilot at Ferris Aircraft, but when the dying alien, Abin Sur (Richard McGonagle), summons him, Hal’s life changes. Hal becomes a Green Lantern and a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force whose power comes from green rings powered by the great Green Lantern battery. Jordan is whisked off to Oa, the home of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the creators of the Green Lantern Corps and the Green Lantern battery.

The Guardians place Hal under the supervision of a respected senior officer, Sinestro (Victor Garber), who is searching for Abin Sur’s murderer, Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith), an alien criminal. Ro has come to possess the yellow element, the one substance that can defeat the great Green Lantern battery. But Hal Jordan finds himself caught in a great conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the Green Lantern Corps.

One positive thing that I can say about Green Lantern: First Flight is that the animation is good. The character movement here is smooth, almost liquid, and the character design is inventive and imaginative, as good as that found in animated films with bigger budgets. The problem with Green Lantern: First Flight is that the lead character, Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, is a mostly flat character. Hal Jordan disappears early in the movie, and the story focuses on his alter-ego, Green Lantern. However, there is little development of Green Lantern’s character; he’s mostly a cog in an action movie. In fact, Sinestro, the antagonist, is far more interesting, and the film spends more time developing Sinestro’s personality, conflicts, and motivations than it does Jordan’s.

The script takes for granted that Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern is the hero, so there isn’t much of an arc of development of Jordan as a novice who learns his craft on the way to his ultimate triumph. The film portrays Jordan as a champion from the beginning, so his ultimate victory doesn’t feel as rewarding as it would if he actually had to really struggle to become the big dog – the hero.

Green Lantern: First Flight offers some impressive action movie set pieces, and the second half is non-stop action that is surprisingly riveting. The first half is awkward, at a time when the script should spend developing the lead character and doesn’t. I think Green Lantern: First Flight is like the 2011 Green Lantern live action movie. Both focus on fanboy tropes instead of both revealing the arc and discovering the heart of a hero.

5 of 10

Saturday, April 21, 2012

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