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Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/28/2009

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/29/2009


In my review for the Watchmen Motion Comic, I admitted to being a Marvel snob. Given the choice, I will always gravitate to Marvel Comics titles as opposed to DC. For years, the two companies have been waging battle outside of the print medium. Each has had a run of animated television shows and direct-to-video animated movies featuring their respective characters. Unlike the comics, this arena can often be a toss-up, as each has had its share of winners and losers. Recently, it seems that each is upping the ante in the realm of direct-to-video movies. The latest offering from Warner Home Video is Green Lantern: First Flight, and for once, I'm leaning towards DC.

As Green Lantern: First Flight opens, we see test pilot Hal Jordan (voiced by Christopher Meloni) working inside of a flight simulator. At this same time, a spaceship containing Abin Sur (voiced by Richard McGonagle) crashes in the desert. Abin Sur removes his glowing green ring and tells it find a worthy successor. Suddenly, Hal Jordan's flight simulator is torn from its hangar and flown to the desert. Hal puts on Abin Sur's ring and becomes a Green Lantern. With his dying words, Abin Sur tells Hal that The Guardians will be sending for him. Sure enough, a group of Green Lantern-clad beings come to Hal and transport him into deep space to a distant planet. There, he meets a race of beings known as The Guardians, and he learns of the Green Lantern Corps. The Green Lanterns are like space-cops, each of which patrols a certain part of the universe. The Guardians aren't sure if a human should be a Green Lantern, but veteran Corps member Sinestro (voiced by Victor Garber) steps forward, promising to train Hal. Sinestro and Hal begin to look for Abin Sur's killer, and Hal learns that "the yellow element", the once substance which can harm a Green Lantern, has been stolen. While looking for the killer and clues to the whereabouts of the element, signs begin to suggest that a traitor may be amongst the Corps.

In order to give my honest impression of Green Lantern: First Flight, I've got to give a two-tiered review. First, I'll analyze the movie as I would any other. This movie's first big mistake is that it assumes that we are already familiar with not only the Green Lantern character, but the entire Green Lantern mythology. The movie has zero character development. We meet Hal Jordan, assume that he's a test pilot, and that's about it. We don't learn anything else about him throughout the remainder of the entire movie. At the outset, we are introduced to Carol Ferris, who works with Hal, and suddenly she's gone. (I get the feeling that she's in the comics and this was simply a bone thrown to the fans.) As far as The Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps, things aren't much better. At least every Green Lantern has a distinct look so that we can tell them apart. The same is true for Sinestro, we get little background...they don't even tell us why he's purple! The story is also a bit vague and the big question is never answered: why does yellow cancel out green? Is Crayola involved in this?

But, somehow, this is a good movie. There is something about the fact that the movie takes place in space which sets it apart from other movies in the genre. Despite the fact that the movie is chock full of Green Lanterns, this doesn't real like a superhero flick. It feels more like a science-fiction movie. The action in the movie is nearly non-stop and Director Lauren Montgomery keeps things moving along at a very nice pace. The 77-minute movie flies by and is never boring. Of course, even the greenest (pun intended) viewer is going to see the plot twists coming, but the movie is still engaging.

Compared to recent entries like Wonder Woman and Hulk VS, Green Lantern: First Flight is a true leap ahead. The PG-13 rated movie doesn't hold back on the action, and it may be too violent for younger kids. I can't say if fans of the comics will like the movie, but anyone who likes science-fiction action will get a kick out of the first flight.

Green Lantern: First Flight makes crazy things with a ring on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic -- they are very rich and never bleed together. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture simply has a great crispness which really brings the action to life. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The transfer delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good and show very nice separation. The surround sound during the action scenes is quite impressive, as the Green Lanterns fly past us. The subwoofer effects during the explosions don't rattle the walls, but they are effective.

The Green Lantern: First Flight Blu-ray Disc contains an odd assortment of extras. In "Green Lantern: Behind the Story with Geoff Johns" (9 minutes) comic book writer Johns (who did not write this movie) discusses his career and his views on Green Lantern. "I Am the Ring" (22 minutes) gives an overview of the Green Lantern character while also examining how themes and ideas in the story relate to ancient tales and symbols. We get an examination of the film's villain in "In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night: The Green Lantern Corps: Sinestro" (4 minutes). "The Guardians of the Universe" (4 minutes) delves into the mentors of the Green Lanterns. "Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event" (9 minutes) looks at an upcoming Green Lantern storyline from the comics. We get an episode of Duck Dodgers "The Green Loontern", as well as five episodes of Justice League which focus on Green Lantern. The remainder of the extras are featurettes from or about other DC animated movies.

Warner Home Video has also brought Green Lantern: First Flight to DVD. The film has again been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The image is somewhat fuzzy when compared to the Blu-ray Disc, and the picture is not quite as sharp. The colors do look fine however, and the action never gets lost in the blackness of space. I did note some mild stuttering in the animation. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and are nicely detailed. The surround sound effects are good as well, showing good spacing as the action moves from the front to the rear. The bass effects are effective, but not overwhelming.

The single-disc edition DVD contains only "Blackest Night" and the featurettes from the other animated movies.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long