The reinvention of a well-established character in the DC universe can become a recipe for disaster. However, Bruce Timm and his animated team have successfully brought a decades’ old character into the new millennium. This time Green Lantern receives the star treatment. As one of the founding members of the Justice League in the comics, Hal Jordan is seen as a mentor-type figure that has gone through several incarnations from hero to villain back to redeemed hero.
In the DVD “First Flight,” Jordan (voiced by Christopher Meloni) is re-imagined as a hot-shot fly-boy who speaks his mind: acts first and questions later. Although he is rash, Jordan is still a thinking-man who figures out the deception of a well trusted Lantern. However, it is not Jordan’s temperament or detective skills which make this movie an amazing origin story.
What is at the core of this tale is the creativity it takes to wield the power of the ring. The power ring enables its wielder to create anything from his imagination. Throughout this narrative, Jordan effortlessly creates several constructs from his mind. When the Weaponers give the traitor the device to control the yellow element (the only color in the rainbow spectrum to counter the power of the Green Lanterns’ rings), they give him a warning in which its one limitation is its controller.
Essentially, the Weaponers tell the traitor that you need to have the imagination and creativity to control something with such power. This is what essentially defeats the betrayer to the Corps. In an ultimate battle between him and Hal Jordan, there is a clear understanding of what this film is about. Yes, it is an origin story of a character who has been through many trials, but it is also about the misuse of power and the stagnation of ideas.
The guardians who gave the traitor the opportunity to nearly destroy the Green Lantern Corps through their complacency did so because they remained tied to the old traditions of “protecting the universe.” Jordan brings a fresh perspective to the Corps and through his brash behavior is able to literally reignite the Green Element’s power (the energy source that charges the power rings).
In this well conceived plot, we also see old favorites of the Corps revitalized alongside Jordan. Kilowog (voiced by Michael Madsen) is given more of a premiere role than in the recent comic series and Boodikka (voiced by Tricia Helfer) is given a new direction, which gives this animated version a mature edge. There is violence. Beings die and are abused and there is strong language. This gives this new imagining of Green Lantern a different vibe from the usual DC animated fair.
Within this double-DVD set is a load of extras which you will find highly entertaining. The first disc holds a look at the new “Superman/Batman Public Enemies” DVD along with trailers for other DC animations past and present. There are also behind the scenes looks at the makings of this film and the “Blackest Night” series from the comics. Disc two contains back stories of Sinestro and the Guardians. There is also a Green Lantern themed “Duck Dodgers” episode and two episodes from “Justice League Unlimited,” which feature a cameo of Hal Jordan.
The movie is worth the price of admission, but the features make the “First Flight” DVD collection a must have for any Green Lantern fan.
Timm and his pals have once again created a fun animated feature based on one of DC’s most beloved characters. Nonetheless, they don’t push the envelope as much as they should. However, it doesn’t stand in the way of the DVD being watchable and even enjoyable.
While everyone who knows their comics knows about the heated relationship between Sinestro and Hal Jordan, it’s a great first look into the character for new fans and one that experienced “lanterneers” will be comfortable with.
However, the best part of the feature is the animation. At times, the DVD feels like a combination of the old Rankin and Bass Lord of the Rings movies of the 70s [especially during the scene where the ultimate weapon is shown for the first time] and some sort of futuristic manga, showing the diversity of the animation team and how far they’ve come over the years.
Because of that, it’s a worthwhile romp through the universe.
-Patrick Hickey Jr.