Monday, August 3, 2009

DVD Review: Green Lantern First Flight: Two-Disc Special Edition

Green Lantern First Flight: Two-Disc Special Edition

(Released July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video)

Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia

In Brightest Day…

In Blackest Night…

No Evil Shall Escape My Sight…

Let Those Who Worship Evil’s Might…

Beware My Power…

Green Lantern’s Light!

Call it corny if you must, but it gets me every time! And, at the risk of a tiny spoiler – the recitation of the classic Green Lantern Oath by the entire corps at the end of the film is as impressive as all get-out!

With 1992’s BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES, producer Bruce Timm began a roll of excellence in adapting DC Comics’ characters and concepts to animation that continues unbroken to this day!
In GREEN LANTERN FIRST FLIGHT, Timm hits all the right notes, concepts, and character bits to create as perfect a Green Lantern film as could be imagined.

Everything is as it SHOULD BE. Test Pilot Hal Jordan is summoned to the crash site of the dying alien Abin Sur, receives Abin’s Power Ring, and is transformed into Green Lantern! Little of the precious running time is spent on this well-known origin, and the transformation takes place between 3:45 and 4:10 of the film.
THAT’S EFFICIENCY!The balance of director Lauren Montgomery’s film (again, as it SHOULD BE) is spent introducing the Green Lantern Corps, their masters the Guardians of the Universe… and the untidy matter of Sinestro. BIG kudos to writer Alan Burnett for working it all into little more than 70 minutes.

As a reader and fan of DC Comics since the Silver Age – and all phases since, both good and bad – I can say this film (Pardon) “RINGS” TRUE!

You can link to my previous post of a promo for this DVD HERE.
As is our custom in these reviews, we’ll break it into CONS and PROS.


The Special Features: The “Two-Disc Special Edition” is chock full of Extras – many of them great – but there are some notable exceptions that are usually standards in other such sets.
There is NO COMMENTARY TRACK for Green Lantern First Flight.
There are “Promotional / Making Of” documentaries for OTHER DC Comics Animated Features – Justice League: The New Frontier, Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess, Batman: Gotham Knight, and a very welcome “first look” at the upcoming “Superman / Batman: Public Enemies” (which brings to DVD an adaptation of the major “President Luthor Arc” of the SUPERMAN/BATMAN comic book title)…

But there is NO “Making Of” or “Behind the Scenes” feature on Green Lantern First Flight! Couple this with the lack of a producers’ commentary track, and there is little or no information on the film you’ve just purchased – though plenty of it on Warner catalogue titles. In all, there are NINE separate Special Features, and not one of them is actually about Green Lantern First Flight!
Credit Where Credit is Due: Much of the documentary material focuses on the current writers of the Green Lantern comics, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. And, so it should, as they have restored the Green Lantern mythos from a long run of mediocrity to renewed greatness.
BUT, there is virtually no mention of those who created said mythos in the first place!Artist Neal Adams makes a cameo along the way, but there is not one word about editor Julius Schwartz, writer John Broome, and artist Gil Kane – who conceived the whole shebang early in the Silver Age of Comics! The Corps and its specific members, the Guardians, the Central Power Battery, the Yellow Impurity, the Planet Oa, Hal Jordan, Sinestro – and The Oath.
ALL of it sprang from the minds, words, and pencils of these talented individuals – but you’d never know it by the focus presented here. Even Denny O’Neil, who (along with Adams) revolutionized the Green Lantern concept at the end of the Silver Age, is among the unmentioned. DC Superhero projects from WHV have usually been good – or at least adequate – on historical perspective of the source material. But, not here!
The Film Itself: No more spoilers than I’ve already given, but… YES! Simply, YES!
The Cast: Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan and (especially) Victor Garber as Sinestro make a great pair of lead cosmic adversaries. Michael Madsen, Tricia Helfer, and John Larroquette are nicely cast as supporting GLs Kilowog, Boodikka, and Tomar-Re.And a very special treat for fans of sixties television! Among the actors voicing The Guardians are old stalwarts William Schallert and Malachi Throne! ...How wonderful!

The Characters: Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, Abin Sur, Kilowog (Yes, he says Poozer!), Boodikka, Tomar-Re, Sinestro, and The Guardians of the Universe.

Green Lanterns in lesser roles: Ch’p (voiced by Frank Welker, natch!), Arisia, Saalak, Arkis Chummuck, and the “Big Head GL”. There are surely more that escaped my enraptured notice.

Other villains include Kanjar-Ro (from 1961’s JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 3) and the
Weaponers of Qward.No John Stewart, Guy Gardner, or Kyle Rayner, as this is the tale of Hal Jordan becoming Earth’s first Green Lantern. They would all come later, and I’ll simply assume that “Charlie Vickers” was probably expunged from DCU continuity as part of the original “Crisis on Infinite Earths”.
The Special Features: (For the “Two-Disc Special Edition”)

Two features on the current Green Lantern comics – one overall and one specifically about the upcoming arc “Blackest Night”. Though lacking in historical perspective (see the “Cons” section) they ARE very informative for those interested in being brought up to speed.

There are two “mini-features” – one on Sinestro and one on the Guardians of the Universe. Neal Adams gets the “line-of-the-day” in the Sinestro piece:
We had TRIPLETS. Here’s BOUNTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL, and SINESTRO… Who’s gonna be the BAD GUY? Sinestro’s gonna be the BAD GUY – I don’t know why…

Bruce Timm picks a favorite JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED episode that is tangentially related to Green Lantern: The Once and Future Thing” Parts One and Two. Bruce T. KNOWS how to pick ‘em! This tale of Batman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart Green Lantern vs. a wonderfully browbeaten, disrespected, and resentfully angry version of time-mastering villain KRONOS – takes them from the Old West (with Bat Lash, El Diablo, and Pow-Wow Smith) to the future of Batman Beyond! (Yes, Bruce Wayne gets to meets Old Bruce Wayne! Wouldn’t you feel cheated if he didn’t?)
And the Crowning Glory of the Special Features: “The Green Loontern” a 2003 episode of the DUCK DODGERS TV show, where Daffy / Dodgers’ DRY CLEANING is accidentally mixed up with Hal Jordan’s (Ring included!) and Daffy is summoned to assist the Green Lantern Corps with a Sinestro-spawned galactic crisis!
It took FOUR WRITERS to pull off this crossover masterpiece – Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone, and old WB hands Tom Minton and the great Paul Dini – and they wring every ounce of Daffy-esque humor and admiration for the Green Lantern concept from this script, as perfectly as could be!

If you thought the character list of Green Lantern First Flight was something, check out who they squeezed into this 22-minute marvel: Duck Dodgers, Eager Young Space Cadet, Dr. I.Q. Hi, Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Katma-Tui, Kilowog, Tomar-Re, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, G’nort, Arisia, “the Diamond Green Lantern”, Saalak, Ch’p, Boodikka… and (in keeping with casting sixties icons to voice Guardians) John Stephensonat his most regal and officious – as Ganthet!

Great Line:

DAFFY/DODGERS: Hey, you know… In person, you REALLY DO look like THE DEVIL!

SINESTRO: (resigned) Yes, I get that a lot!

DUCK DODGERS has yet to be released on DVD, making this a TRUE bonus! If ever a single Special Feature was worth the price of admission, this is it!

Content Notes: In other recent WHV animation set reviews, I’ve lamented the lack of any sort of CONTENT LISTING anywhere inside the package. As such, it is worth noting here that, for Green Lantern First Flight, there is a complete such listing on the back of the package.

OVERALL: Green Lantern First Flight Two-Disc Special Edition is a rousing success in both the feature itself, and the extras. If you are a fan of DC Comics (Now – or Silver Age), the Warner Bros. DC Comics Animated Series – or are just looking for a great introduction to the Green Lantern concept -- Green Lantern First Flight is highly recommended!
Oh, and if you’re handing-out rings that wield vast power that is only limited by the size and scope of your will and imagination… it’s probably not a good idea to give one to someone who goes by the name of “Sinestro”!

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