Superhero Sundays: Green Lantern: First Flight
Comic book fun8
Matthew Turner | On 12, Feb 2017
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Stars: Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen, John Larroquette, Kurtwood Smith, Juliet Landau, David L. Lander, Kath Soucie
Watch Green Lantern: First Flight online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
On Sunday mornings, we like to watch cartoons. So we’re working our way through DC’s animated superhero collection. We call it Superhero Sundays.
Directed by Lauren Montgomery (who also helmed Wonder Woman) and produced by Bruce Timm, this animated Green Lantern adventure serves as an excellent introduction to the popular DC Comics character, delivering an exciting story that encompasses everything fans love about the comics. As such, it’s everything the disappointing live-action version should have been.
Despite the fact that this is Green Lantern’s first solo animated adventure, Montgomery and writer Alan Burnett make the refreshing decision to dispense with Green Lantern’s origin story early on, getting it over and done with even before the opening credits have finished. Their stated reason for doing so is that Green Lantern’s origin had been already been covered in a previous DC movie (2008’s Justice League: The New Frontier), but either way, it’s a commendably bold choice that allows us to cut straight to the space action.
After accepting a mysterious, powerful ring from a dying alien creature, pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) is transformed into Green Lantern, a costumed superhero whose ring allows him to create anything his mind can imagine. Shortly after receiving his powers, Hal is taken to the planet Oa and inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, a body of aliens with the same ring and powers who act as a sort of intergalactic peace-keeping force.
As the first human to become a member of the Corps, Hal faces resistance from the Corps’ overseers, the Guardians of the Universe, but respected Green Lantern Sinestro (Legends of Tomorrow’s Victor Garber) steps forward and offers to train him, as the Corps hunt for a warlord known as Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith). However, Hal soon comes to suspect that Sinestro might have ulterior motives of his own. (With a name like Sinestro? What are the odds? Etc.)
One of the unsung heroes of the DC animated movies is voice director Andrea Romano, who always gets terrific work out of her thoughtfully assembled casts. The stand-out here is Garber, who makes Sinestro deliciously, well, sinister, treading a fine line between arrogance, anger and authoritative calm. There’s also strong comedy from Michael Madsen as warthog-like Lantern Kilowog, while Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer does a good job with all the exposition she has to dump as sympathetic Lantern Boodikka. Similarly, Meloni does solid work as Hal, although you do find yourself wishing Nathan Fillion had been cast in the role (plus ca change, etc), given his excellent work as the voice of Green Lantern elsewhere.
The animation is impressive throughout, with the production design team having a lot of fun with the various aliens, particularly in a smartly written scene that deliberately echoes the cantina sequence in Star Wars. In addition, the thrilling, comic book-style action sequences take great pleasure in giving fans what they want, i.e. seeing Hal bashing things with giant green objects – highlights here include a chair, a giant golf club and, yes, the classic giant fist.
On top of that, the script – which draws from two separate storylines, “Secret Origin” and “The Sinestro Corps War” – serves up an effective combination of drama and tension (the stakes are extremely high and there are serious consequences), laced with moments of genuine humour. If there’s a flaw, it’s only that, as with Montgomery’s Wonder Woman (albeit to a significantly lesser degree), the violence is occasionally weirdly excessive, with one character in particular getting bloodily impaled in surprisingly nasty fashion.
That caution to very young children aside, this is an entertaining and attractively animated space adventure that’s pleasingly faithful to the comics. A treat for fans and newcomers alike.