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.

The voice work was ok, but when you're reading bad dialogue even hearing Barry White whisper in your ear  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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