Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of sector 2814 and one of my favourite comic book characters, has always been considered one of DC Comics b-list superheroes, a bridesmaid forever doomed to be overshadowed by the holy trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. But all that could be about to change.
A big budget live action film version starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Martin Campbell (Edge of Darkness, Casino Royale) is already in production and should start shooting next year. Thanks to The Sinestro Corp War and Blackest Night the Green Lanterns and Jordan in particular are now major players in the comic world regularly topping the sales charts. And then we have this animated DVD movie, the latest in the DC Universe Original Animated Movies range following Superman: Doomsday, Batman: Gotham Knight, Justice League: The New Frontier and Wonder Woman.
As the title suggests Green Lantern: First Flight chronicles the early days of Hal Jordan’s career as a Green Lantern. The origin story is rushed through in the first few minutes as Hal is given his power ring by a dying Green Lantern who has crashed landed on Earth. First Flight contains many of the things I love about the Green Lantern comics but at the same time is a rather underwhelming experience that never fully satisfies.
Considering the source material the scope is suitable epic. The plot takes us from Earth to Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corp, to other alien planets, space ports and back again. The action sequences are fast and exciting with the animators taking full advantage of the endless uses of the power ring. But the main plot is hopelessly predictable. You can easily guess every single twist and turn it takes before reaching the inevitable action pack climax. Hal Jordan’s origin is rushed through in the first five minutes robbing the narrative of anything resembling character development. You never get to know Hal or understand why he would want to be a Lantern. He’s just a generic do-gooder while Sinestro is telegraphed as the big bad from the second he appears.
Perhaps the main area where First Flight fails the most is the one where Bruce Timm productions often always excel; the voice acting. The vocals performances are mostly flat and uninspired with few exceptions. Worst of all, Christopher Meloni is lacklustre as Hal Jordan. David Boreanaz did a much better job in Justice League: The New Frontier and it’s a shame they didn’t ask him to come back. The other characters are just as underdeveloped. Victor Garber does his best as Sinestro but Tricia Helfer phones it in as Boodikka while Michael Madsen just mumbles his way through the whole thing as Kilowog.
First Flight is a perfectly entertaining action adventure story for all the family. As an introduction to the colourful mythology of the Green Lanterns its functional. But as a character piece for Hal Jordan it is definitely lacking. Frankly, if you want a really great animated movie featuring Hal Jordan I’d recommend watching Justice League: The New Frontier instead.
Rating: * * *