SDCC ’09: Green Lantern: First Flight Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated June 3rd, 2011 at 11:26 am,

green lantern first flight SDCC 09: Green Lantern: First Flight Review

To end my first night covering the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, I attended a screening of DC Universe’s latest animated feature, Green Lantern: First Flight. With buzz on the upcoming live-action adaptation of The Green Lantern building fast, Green Lantern: First Flight will likely be an early barometer of the public’s interest in the character.

So was the film any good?

I gotta say: GF:FL is not DC Universe’s best. I was actually a little bit let down on all fronts – the story, the dialogue, the animation quality, even the sound effects – which is a shame, because I came to the screening with nothing but high hopes after seeing the wonderful feature-length Wonder Woman animated film earlier this year at the New York Comic-Con.

And why shouldn’t I? The creative team behind First Flight is pretty much the same one behind Wonder Woman: DC’s Bruce Timm is producing and Lauren Montgomery (Superman: Doomsday) is directing. Word is that this film is Montgomery’s last before a well-deserved leave, and if the little lady is feeling any signs of burnout, then the symptoms definitely show in the finished product of this film.

Here’s a quick rundown of what Green Lantern: First Flight is all about: an updated re-telling of the origin of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, via a story that felt overly-rushed and totally devoid of character. For instance: five minutes into the film Hal Jordan has already gone from a test pilot we know nothing about, to a guy adorned with an emerald ring we know nothing about. Ten minutes in, Hal (mysteriously accustomed to his brand new super power) is blasting off to planet Oa with the Green Lantern Corps (who we know nothing about).

The main problem I can pinpoint: after a rushed intro, the film diverts its focus from Hal Jordan (voiced by Christopher Meloni) and his journey to become a Green Lantern, instead steering narrative focus onto the character of Hal’s mentor-turned-nemesis, Sinestro (who is voiced by Victor Garber from ALIAS). Sinestro really does take up a lot of the screen time/POV, and the story really does end up being more about what makes Sinestro go bad, rather than what makes Hal Jordan (more of a foil for Sinestro here) rise to the status of a hero.

And the fight scenes… There are some clever moments in the film where Hal uses his ring to manifest some pretty cool stuff, but on the whole, the fight scenes get a bit repetitive and after awhile, seeing so many green (and yellow) lights zipping back and forth pretty much made my brain glaze over.

green lantern firstflight thumb 550x309 15869 SDCC 09: Green Lantern: First Flight Review

The voice work was ok, but when you’re reading bad dialogue even hearing Barry White whisper in your earĀ  would make you cringe. And the choices of actors was a little strange: Meloni was OK, Garber did pretty well, but hearing Michael Madsen voicing Kilowog??? It never quite “rang true” to my ears.

So there it is… the verdict on Green Lantern: First Flight. Of course this is just MY lowly opinion and to find out for yourself how the film is you’ll have to check it out when it hits DVD/Blu-ray on July 28, 2009.

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  1. Kofi, noooo!!! I was soo hoping this was going to be great. Oh well; hopefully the live-action movie makes up for it. I just hope this doesn’t turn people off from seeing the live-action version.

  2. Thanks for the review, Kofi. :-)

    Definitely getting this, but I am very glad that you were honest about how you felt about this. You are a good critic. :-) I can’t stand lousy dialogue…

    I know Hal’s story so I’m not too upset that we didn’t get to see more, I was aware that it was more of a Sinestro goes bad kinda story, I just feel bad for non fans who get this and wanna get into GL cuz it’s probably not the best introduction story. Like Kahless, I hope it won’t turn people off from a live action GL movie too.

    That said, the animated Iron man film from a coupe years back was terrible and IM did great, I can’t imagine the animated GL being worse than that animated IM, you know? :-)

  3. I still want to see it. Personally I thought Wonder Woman was way over rated and it was pretty good, but nothing special.

  4. @KEL
    You know, for me, the best animated DC/Marvel film I have seen is probably Wonder Woman, which I never would have guessed before. I have read that the Justice League movie was really good; maybe I should get that one.

  5. I want to see this so badly, but like District 9, the more I see, the less I want to. The uniform design here sucks, too.

  6. Maybe Lauren Montgomery just wasn’t much of a GL fan. Wonder Woman is a woman after all, maybe Lauren was more motivated to make DC’s most recognizable superheroine’s movie very well-told?

    But yeah, I had a friend at SDCC watch the GL: First Flight premiere too – a diehard GL fan (he bought a Black Lantern ring and stuff like that!) – and his own verdict was: “It was OK.”

    That wasn’t good.

  7. I enjoyed Wonder Woman, but wouldn’t even be in my top 3 Marvle DC animated films.

  8. @Kahless,

    Yeah, WW was actually REALLY good. JL: New Frontier was pretty good, but the book was much better. They cut out so much and that kinda disappointed me.

    ^^ I guess the reason why they didn’t get much into Hal’s backstory here is because they already did a lot of that in Justice League: The New Frontier. So I would just watch that before the new GL movie, use that just to kinda get the feel for Hal.

    I am really looking forward to the Superman/Batman Public Enemies DVD. :-D

  9. I was at the GLFF screening and the panel the next night. And I came away with a completely different perspective.

    I’ll say up front that GL wasn’t as good as Wonder Woman, but I thought Wonder Woman was perfect — so repeating that trick was going to be tough. GLFF was fun from the start, with some cool, intense battles and some great dialogue,especially from Sinestro and Kilowog. I thought Victor Garber’s voiceover was amazing …

    And I was glad they got the GL origin story over and done with before the opening credits. They did the GL origin story a few films back in Justice League: New Frontier — we didn’t need to see it again, or at least not this soon.

    A quick correction — at the panel on Friday, Lauren Montgomery said she was already directing another film. I think it’s the one after Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. And by the way, if you’d been to that panel, you would’ve been blown away by the appearance of both Kevin Conroy and Clancy Brown.

  10. @Paul

    Thanks Paul! That’s all good info to know!

  11. Okay, here goes.

    It was entertaining. I’ve got a soft spot for GL, and cry when I hear the oath. I’m a softie for it, what can I say?

    But then I watched it *again*, and started picking at the loose threads. And if you don’t want it to come apart like a piece of cheap sharktooth scrim, don’t do that. Just sit back and go “oooh, ahhh” at all the pretty colors, get all gooey at the Oath, and giggle at the goofy ring effects.

    Don’t ask why certain characters die in Hal’s origin story when they’re still alive, or worse, are poozers in The Blackest Night. Don’t ask how effects from Cowboy Bebop got into a DC superhero movie. Don’t ask how the Ion and Parallax entities got turned into pretty green and yellow “elements”. Don’t ask why the Oan Power Battery has yellow and blue metallic plates in it’s construction. Don’t ask why Sinestro is able to kill people with his green ring when it’s against the law in the Book of Oa. And for goodness’ sake, don’t ask why there’s no mention of willpower or fear in the entire thing.

    Oh, I take that back. While Sinestro is going through his “Training Day” Denzel Washington smackdown on Hal Jordan because he didn’t let Sinestro kill Labella with the moonball, Sinestro DOES say that only fear will work. But he isn’t talking about controlling *rings*.

    Sinestro himself comes across at first more like a dirty cop than as the despotic political madman he really was. Later, he turns out to be a dirty cop with a big blanking gun, but still, a dirty cop. The only nod to his Godwin-Law-triggering Hitler aspirations is a single speech where he offers Hal lots of “power”, which Hal tosses off with a glib Jerry Maguire-esque wisecrack.

    I thought the Flash did the wisecracks. Hal was always so darned serious. Not as serious as Batman, but then, Batman could teach the Kolinahr ritual to Vulcans.

    The second DVD (NOT the Blu-Ray) *does* have the full array of behind the scenes stuff, including the Duck Dodgers episode. I’m glad, because I really wanted that Duck Dodgers oath — it’s a classic.

    So, upshot — if you want to have fun, buy it. It’s fun. There’s some great scenes. Arisia is cute.

    (Waitaminnit…in the recently-released Tales of the Corps #3, Arisia wasn’t even a LANTERN when she first went to Oa with her father…and she first met Katma Tui there…and Katma was Sinestro’s *replacement* from Korugar, and Guy Gardner was a Lantern too…stop that! My brain hurts!)

    *Sigh* It’s a canonical mess, okay, yeah, we get it. So if you are just going to chew the box to pieces because that lousy stinking yellow ringslinger killed Fritz, don’t bother. You’ll only make yourself crazy.

  12. ******* SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS ANEAD! *******

    Well, I finally got to see it and I liked it. Yes, it’s not DC’s best animated film but it was entertaining to me. I thought it odd that the Oa eternals couldn’t see that Sinestro wasn’t all that good. I also thought it odd that the green element was the strongest but it was nearly wiped out by Sinestro and the yellow element. When Hal absorbed all the green element, at first I thought they were going the Parallax angle but luckily didn’t.

  13. @Sio
    Good points!

  14. I would like to have seen the movie, but unfortunately, Warner Brothers new form of copy-protection won’t let me play my newly purchased DVDs on my DVD players.

    So, I’m going to try and return my 2 Disc Special Edition back to Best Buy. If I am unable to, then it sounds like Warner Brothers wants me to watch pirated streams online. I mean, if I BUY the DVD’s, shouldn’t I be able to WATCH them?!?

    Ugh, this kind of crap really ticks me off. I’m a loyal customer. I bought all the DC Universe DVDs (except the Wonder Woman one). Warner’s little attempt at holding back piracy is almost forcing me to try and break the copy-protection just so I can watch my legally purchased DVDs.


  15. @ Kahless

    When Jordan absorbed the green light from the lantern crystal towards the end I thought immediately of ION (Kyle Rayner)..

    I thought Meloni as Hal was lacking emotion in his voice performance…Thought Sinestro was very well done!!There certainly was a rushed ‘Origin” but I think they did that already with JL: New need to go over it again..I think this was more a Sinestro origin film and getting ready to introduce the ” Sinestro Corps War”, “Rage of the Red Lanterns” & “In Darkest Night” ..ALl great reading by-the way..Geoff Johns has really done an awesome job making GL dominant again the the DC Universe..