Regular visitors here are aware of my love for comic book movies, particularly those of the Superman, Batman, DC orientation. And though those movies have been relatively scarce in theaters, Bruce Timm, the creative force behind nearly every awesome DC cartoon for the past twenty years including the highly respected Batman, Superman, and Justice League animated shows, has been pumping out some pretty good direct-to-DVD animated features that geeks like me eat up. I encourage you, though, to watch them as well. Some of them have been much better than many movies released in theaters (specific examples: X3, Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider). With exception of the rather abysmal Batman: Gotham Knight and the mediocre Justice League: New Frontier, the other three have been very good. Superman Doomsday packs in more action than we’ve ever seen the Man of Steel perform in any medium, and makes you realize how bad ass the character is, because the big movies haven’t quite done it yet. Wonder Woman absolutely blew me away, especially when I realized I really liked a movie completely focused on… Wonder Woman. And the most recent release, Green Lantern: First Flight gives an epic, action packed, science fiction story in the tone of Star Trek.
The action is high, and characterization for the star is rather low besides the “Hal Jordan acts heroic” aspect. His origin is greatly stunted, I imagine because it was featured prominently in New Frontier and will likely be told again in the live action movie coming soon. So it happens very suddenly; an alien crashes on Earth, his Green Lantern ring picks Hal Jordan to succeed him (it’s never explained that it does this because it recognizes his valor), and suddenly he’s off Earth for the rest of the movie encountering aliens and Guardians of the Universe and an intergalactic war. Is he ever surprised by this? Very briefly. The movie pretty much shows him accept it and be totally fine with bizarre looking creatures. But again, for this it works.
The more interesting character is Sinestro, whose betrayal of the Green Lantern is shown here. I’m not really spoiling you; it’s pretty clear from the get go that he’s got a few screws loose. But there’s a pretty nifty little twist about two thirds in that I won’t spoil, and actually made me say, “whoa.” It was very well done. But Sinestro is a great villain, and is shown perfectly here.
The action scenes and art is incredible throughout. I imagine it’s somewhat difficult to make the action seem real, since it’s all about a ring that takes the shape of what its wearer wills it to do. It sounds abstract, but is actually pretty cool, because it allows those fighting to have a physical battle that is actually a battle of inner strength. How very Zen.
There is a little camp here, but I let it go. Sometimes Hal makes his ring into a giant baseball bat, or a rocket launcher, but it’s all in good fun.
I don’t mean to think that this is just mindless action, there is more to it. It’s not completely devoid of character, and there are some nifty political undertones. It also packs a surprising dramatic punch when the rings of dozens of dead Green Lanterns all return to their source all at once, after a precise coordinated attack. It has great action, but there’s some maturity here as well.
This is also good because it shows WB is starting to allow their heroes to be showcased in multiple mediums. Since we’re essentially going to get a very similar story when the movie comes out in theaters, I was surprised they let this one go. But they might be starting to realize that exposure is very important, and since this film is great, I’m sure it will only make the live action one better.
If you’re a comic book geek, definitely see it. If you like comic book movies, give animation a chance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.