Saturday, August 1, 2009

Green Lantern: First Flight Review

A warning, I’ll have some major spoilers here for you all.

After months of highly anticipating it, I walk out of my room with a sense of great disappointment over Green Lantern’s first ever animated film, First Flight. Over the last few years the Green Lantern franchise has become more popular than ever with a wide cast of great characters, both human and alien so the idea of an actual movie based around it, even with just Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern, is exciting.

The series has all the potential to be one of the best animated films ever. After all DC has done a phenomenal job with all their past animated movies, even the somewhat disappointing Gotham Knight was a good watch. Sadly First Flight has all the fuel to propel itself into greatness, but flat out crashes and burns.

First lets cover the movie’s most glaring big problem which is its main character, Hal Jordan. Now let’s be honest and admit that Hal isn’t always the most exciting or captivating character like other Green Lanterns but he never needed that to be a good character. He was good for his strong will and his ability to never give in. That made him endearing to us as readers and envy his inner strength.

I don’t know where that Hal Jordan is but he needs to get his ass in this movie pronto. Here Hal is a side-character most of the time in his own movie. Sinestro takes center stage for most of the movie and is the most interesting character and also the best used. Hal just stood on the sidelines mostly, even when he did something it wasn’t all that exciting or interesting.

Now to be fair I did like how they handled the origin of Hal. It’s not a fairly detailed origin that we need to spend half an hour detailing. The first 4 minutes show Abin Sur’s crash/death/Hal getting the ring and like that we’re done. It was a smart idea to do this as this left the entire rest of the movie to move on and really get to the meat of a great story.

Sadly that’s not the case. A lot of the movie is just people standing around and talking, and even if something happens it’s over in a matter of a couple of minutes. There where a lot of scenes that should have been a lot more exciting but since they where so short the action left me with no damn feeling. It came and left just like that.

It’s also sad that Hal was definitely the most boring and uninteresting character compared to all the other Green Lanterns. I think the squirrel got more lines and interesting moments then Hal. If that’s not pathetic I don’t know what is. To be fair Hal wasn’t a complete cardboard cut out, he was more like a cardboard cut-out with a voice box that half the time said something good and half the time said something dull and stupid. “and you thought I was green before” has to be the worst line I’ve heard since Mr. Freeze’s ice puns in Batman and Robin.

I was very frustrated at the lack of Carol Ferris. I mean honestly, why was she even in the damn movie if we only see her 2 times and she gets just a few lines. In the opening the writers did a great job of establishing that Hal and Carol are dating and it’s a relationship I was looking forward to seeing but since Hal never comes back to earth after he leaves it was a total missed opportunity.

Really this whole movie was a missed opportunity. All the action is either downplayed or way too short. The story drags on and on and on until we finally reach the epic conclusion but even the epic final fight isn’t really all that epic. It was more like 10 minutes of even more wasted opportunity.

One thing I did like was Boodikka betraying the others to work with Sinestro. We all knew Sinestro was an evil bastard waiting to turn yellow (the fact that he has Sinister in his name should be a good hint) but I didn’t see Boodikka’s betrayal at all. If anything I almost thought they where building up to some kind of relationship between Hal and Boodikka but this was a great twist. I also liked the twist of how she died, a great scene.

Kanjar Ro was the villain for about half the movie and he was a dumb mediocre villain that I was happy to see dead. He wasn’t at the least bit threatening or a villain worthy of the Green Lantern series. I know he was a somewhat big deal in the DC comics but his portrayal here just makes me wish Sinestro would go yellow a lot sooner.

A quick side not, Kilowog saying "Poozers" had me laughing.

I did like how Sinestro was able to reanimate Kanjar Ro’s corpse just a bit with his ring. That was a cool idea that shows off just how great Sinestro is.

Characters like Kilowog where nicely done and really most of the Green Lantern Corps where done nicely and of course as I keep mentioning Sinestro was great. Part of what makes Sinestro so great is the voice acting of Victor Garber. He just has that perfect suave civilized voice and tone but at the same time he’s always got this sharp attitude to his voice that barely covers a more violent nature to the character.

He had a great transition into a villain as well, and when he did cut loose it was awesome seeing how insanely powerful he was. I wish we could have got a lot more of it though. Sadly Sinestro only attacks at the very end of the movie. Rather than getting a long epic clash, he smacks around the GL and the Guardians for a bit until Hal gets the power back and goes after him.

Now I want to mention one minor complaint that is more of a fan thing really. Where the hell was the Green Lantern Oath through this movie? We get it at the very end, and that’s it? That’s bullshit right there. There where tons of great moments that would have been elevated by Hal or one of the others saying the oath. Mostly all through the final fight, or when Hal was trying to get the power battery back to life. Those where great moments where if the oath was used it would have worked so perfectly. It just seems so pointless to have a Green Lantern movie and not have them say the oath until the very end. Sure it was nice that they didn’t overuse it but underused isn’t any better.

Now to the final battle, the biggest wasted opportunity of them all. I was expecting a long epic clash that would get the blood pumping and really turn up the heat and make me sit on the edge of my seat. Sadly what we got was a pathetic ten minutes, 5 minutes of it where Sinestro just smacks the heroes around and the other 5 minutes where *le gasp* Hal actually does something!

I had hoped the final fight would be anywhere from 20 to even 30 minutes of fight, not 10 pathetic minutes. Even when Hal is fully charged and takes on Sinestro and the yellow power battery it isn’t really all that exciting. It’s also started by a god awful joke about how Hal is really green (kill me now) and when it gets down to what it should have been, Hal and Sinestro one on one, it was cool…for the 2 minutes it actually happened.

We then end with a dull speech by one of the Guardians, finally we hear the oath and Hal flies off. Amazing, the movie starts off great and ends with a boring dud of a speech and Hal flying off, no doubt in hopes to escape this mediocre mess.

Well I must admit that Hal did have a line here and there that was actually all right, but most of the time he was either silent or making awful jokes that weren’t at the least bit funny.

I must say I did love the animation, it was amazingly well done. My only real complaint was Sinestro looked a bit too muscle bound but I can easily forgive it as the movie at least looks great. All the character designs are very nicely done and it just overall looks really great. This really is the best looking DCU Animated movie yet.

My only big problem with the animation was the poor use of CG. I have this complaint with most other animated films that insist upon using CG but here it was so poorly forced in that it stood out like a sore thumb. While CG isn’t a bad thing when it comes to cartoons, forcing CG into a cartoon randomly is. This also had to be the worst looking CG I’ve seen since the 90’s, no joke.

I also enjoyed the music, it fit well and was nicely done. I especially loved it during the final fight. It gave a sense of being truly epic and for that I was excited as all hell but sadly we got anything but with the fight. At least it sounded on point with the music, if only the animators got the memo.

Overall I didn’t hate this movie. It had it’s moments and Sinestro was great even if he was the main character. Though I can’t really give this a high recommendation honestly. If you’re a fan of the Green Lantern franchise you may get a kick out of seeing some important Corps members and fans of Sinestro.

Also for all my complaints I can’t deny that Hal wasn’t the worst character ever. He did have a few good moments and that does count for something. So while it wasn’t downright awful it and it wasn’t good it falls into an odd mediocre pit that some fans may actually enjoy it still. So I’m going to say rent it and see if you like it or not, though if you hate it after hearing my complaints then at least you only wasted 5 bucks on a rental.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

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