Sunday, August 2, 2009

So there's this guy with a ring...

Green Lantern: First Flight

Green Lantern, the red-headed stepchild of DC Comics, finally gets a movie. Of course, it's a direct-to-video animated feature, so don't get too excited.* For those not in the know, Green Lantern is Hal Jordan, a test pilot recruited by an intergalactic policing organization called the Green Lantern Corps. The Corps is run by little blue men from the center of the universe called the Guardians of the Universe. Each Green Lantern is equipped with a ring that can manifest any shape or weapon that the bearer imagines.

The movie breezes through Hal Jordan's origin story and immediately jumps into a plotline centering on a disaffected Corpsman named Sinestro. Lots of minor characters from the Green Lantern comic get cameos, but most are given only token characterization. The Star Wars influence is palpable, as the characters jump from location to location with a minimum of dialogue to get in the way of the action. And as action movies go, Green Lantern isn't half bad.

The movie uses the cartooning style and simplified character design pioneered by Bruce Timm. If you've seen an episode of Justice League or Superman: The Animated Series, the style will be immediately recognizable. While it may lack the detail that some animation enthusiasts crave, the characters move smoothly and the ring effects are particularly well done. The voice acting is also uniformly good.

But for anyone who isn't already a diehard Hal Jordan fan, the main character will feel very insignificant. In comic circles, Green Lantern occasionally gets grief as the epitome of the personality-free superhero of the 1960s. In fairness, the movie's Hal Jordan does have a personality, but it's the personality of a very dumb guy who's exceptionally lucky. While scenes at the very beginning hint at a character with a decent sense of humor, most of the movie consists of Hal looking confused while other characters explain the plot to him.

Overall, Green Lantern: First Flight is a decent sci-fi action flick. Just don't expect much more from it.

*Apparently, there is a big budget live action film in the works, starring the guy who played Deadpool.

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