While I’m running behind in reviews, I thought I’d link up a good rant on why WB/DC will probably fail with a Justice League film. Really agree with the note on Bruce Timm and team near the end. J.R.’s rant can be found here at Authentic Entertainment.
Season 1, Episodes 18-19
“Ultimatum”, “Dark Heart”, “Wake the Dead”
“Kids’ Stuff”, “This Little Piggy”
“Initiation”, “For the Man Who Has Everything”
Justice League Unlimited isn’t really that different a show from the first Justice League cartoon. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they’re considered the same series. Of course, the big difference between the two was on focus: Justice League followed the founders of the League, while Justice League Unlimited followed a much larger cast in more epic adventures. Because of that, “Initiation” had to act as both a series and season premier.
“Green Lantern: First Flight” is the fifth direct-to-video animated film from Warner Brothers Animation. The last DC Universe Animated Original was the excellent “Wonder Woman”. While I think “First Flight” is comparable in quality, “Wonder Woman” remains my favorite release to date.
One of the things that set “Wonder Woman” apart was the great chemistry between Keri Russell as Diana and Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor. “First Flight” is missing the depth of character that made “Wonder Woman” such a pleasant surprise. What you get instead is action… lots of it. “First Flight” is positively action-packed. If you’re looking for spectacular outer-space action that would make George Lucas jealous, this is the movie for you.
“First Flight” emphasizes the sci-fi elements of the Green Lantern story. Hal’s introduction to the Corps is handled in a brisk 10 minutes. And once the story leaves earth, it doesn’t look back. The animation team even went so far as to change the look of familiar characters to make them seem more alien. Most of the changes are fairly subtle. But a few of the characters (Abin Sur and Kanjar Ro) are barely recognizable as their comic book counterparts.
The overall look of the film is unique. With the acclaimed TV shows from Batman to Justice League, Bruce Timm developed a very distinct style. And many of these characters appeared in the traditional Timm style on various animated TV shows. “First Flight” has it’s own look and style that is distinct from Timms TV work or any of the other direct-to-video releases to date. I would say that there is a hint of eastern influence without crossing over into the realm of “anime”.
The story is also something of a new invention. The broad strokes of Hal Jordan’s origin are are there. Hal is still a test pilot. He still gets his ring from a dying Abin Sur. And Sinestro still serves as a mentor figure for Hal before his ultimate fall from grace. But a lot of the details are different. Don’t expect all the characters to behave exactly the way they do in the comics.
As is expected, the voice work is well done across the baord. Although, I couldn’t help comparing “Law and Order” star Christopher Meloni’s work as Hal Jordan to David Boreanaz as Hal in “JLA: New Frontier”. Both actor’s did a fine job. But Boreanaz brought a likability and warmth to Hal that I found largely absent in Meloni’s performance. Meloni’s Jordan actually reminded me from a line in “JLA: Cry for Justice” when Hal referred to himself as “cool and care-free”. This Jordan never seems to break a sweat.
Veteran actor Victor Garber fares better as Sinestro. I think it’s safe to say that Sinestro steals the show. Hal may be on the cover, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sinestro gets more screen time. Sinestro’s turn from the greatest Lantern either to a rogue is different from the way in which it portrayed in comics. But it’s still the most fascinating part of the story.
Tricia Helfer of “Battlestar Galactica” portrays as surprisingly sensitive Boodikka. And Michael Madsen is appropriately gruff and funny in the role of Kilowog. Juliet Landau of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” plays an alien barkeep. And former Bond girl Olivia D’Abo has what amounts to a cameo as Carol Ferris. John Larroquette (yep, the guy from “Night Court”) provides the voice for Tomar Re. And Squiggy himself, David Lander, plays Ch’p.
Part of the fun of seeing the Corps in action is always playing “spot that Lantern” in the group shots. There’s bound to be some freeze framing here as fans look for their favorites. But fans of Kyle, Guy and John need not bother. No other human Lantern appears (which isn’t suprirsing given the nature of the story).
On the whole, “First Flight” is a fine sci-fi action adventure story with above-average production values. If you’ve enjoyed Warner Brother’s other direct-to-DVD DC offerings, you’ll enjoy this one too. And any Green Lantern fan should consider it a must-see.