Saturday, January 10, 2015

On DVD: Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

Most comics fans know that Green Lantern and Sinestro have been mortal enemies ever since the Silver Age version of the Emerald Gladiator was introduced 55 years ago. In recent times, DC Comics has seen fit to revamp and reboot the classic story time and again, even going so far as to try to paint Sinestro in a positive light with the launch of their New 52 universe in 2011 before letting him become the master villain he's always been.

In 2009, DC & Warner Bros. decided to test out Green Lantern in his first solo DTV, subtitled, "First Flight". While television audiences had become accustomed to a secondary Lantern, John Stewart, on Justice League & Justice League Unlimited a few years earlier, "First Flight" focuses on the first of the Silver Age Lanterns, Hal Jordan, whose origin had previously been documented in the movie, "Justice League: New Frontier".

Jordan (Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) is a test pilot based in California, working for gal pal Carol Ferris (Olivia D'Abo, ex-The Wonder Years) when he is summoned by a dying Abin Sur (Kurtwood Smith, ex-That 70's Show), whose appearance has completely changed for the movie. Jordan is then transported to Oa, the home of the Guardians of the Universe, by Sinestro (Victor Garber, ex-Alias), Boodiyka (Tricia Helfer, ex-Battlestar Galactica), and Kilowog (Michael Madsen) for training. However, nothing is what it seems with Sinestro, who, as tradition has it, has his own agenda, having to do with the alien Kanjar Ro, long remembered for his battles with the Justice League. Sinestro covets the "yellow element", and kills Ro, framing Jordan for the crime.

In the comics, Abin Sur & Sinestro came from the same planet, Korugar, which was never referenced in the movie. Fans will recognize some of the other Lanterns, including Tomar Re, Arisia, and Ch'p, making appearances in the film. A mid-film plot twist made me think script writer Alan Burnett didn't do his homework, that's all I can say. Comics purists will have a problem with how this plays out, as some characters were killed off when they haven't in the books.

However, compared to the live-action film that Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti, and friends developed two years later, this was actually a masterpiece. Ryan Reynolds blew it as Jordan. Christopher Meloni nailed it, and should've been brought back for a follow-up. Instead, Nathan Filion (Castle) was called in for the next GL DTV, "Emerald Knights".

Here's the trailer for "First Flight":

Meloni was brought back into the DCU, if you will, with a supporting role in the live-action "Man of Steel" 4 years later, and I'd cast him in a new Justice League DTV in a heartbeat.

Rating: B-.


magicdog said...

As someone who is not a comics purist and knowing little more than bare minimum for most comic characters, I'm easily pleased by most productions like this. This allows me to better judge other aspects of the film such as characterization, voice work etc.

I enjoyed it and this movie is far closer to what the live action film should have been. I agree Meloni is good here as Jordan, although I don't have a problem with Fillion either. I do admit I thought Fillion did a better job with his role as Vigilante in JLU.

hobbyfan said...

My first thought, as this movie got underway was, would Meloni play Jordan as a softer Elliot Stabler (L&OSVU)? Nope. Good thing, too.