Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) (DVD)

While DC Comics may not have the box office power Marvel has (save “The Dark Knight”), or the volume in straight to DVD features, they have the quality that Marvel lacks whenever they decide to churn out a feature film on the home video circuit. DC has it all over Marvel when it comes to home video releases from “The New Frontier” to “Wonder Woman,” they have it all over their rival company. And just as the movie is being cast and brought to the big screen, we’re given a special glimpse in what could be with “Green Lantern: First Flight”! DC has been mostly hit on the Straight to DVD circuit and “First Flight” is proof that they just can’t be beaten when it comes to animated features.

Hell, I’ll take “Superman: Doomsday” over “Ultimate Avengers 2” any day of the week. The point of my little preamble is that DC has scored yet again and they’ve done it courtesy of the wizards of the DC family like Andrea Romano along with wise and totally unexpected casting decisions that have helped movies like “Return of the Joker” hit a home run with fans and general consumers alike. Green Lantern has always had a lot of potential to be a hit science fiction action flick and Warner is finally realizing that by introducing us to the lengthy mythos courtesy that director Lauren Montgomery brings to life on the small screen. Hal Jordan is an experienced air force pilot and gets a thrill out of hot headed stunts that aggravate his friends and colleagues to no end. One day his life is changed when he’s transported in to a desert and granted the Green Lantern Ring, a device that can manifest any tool or weapon its holders imagination can concoct.

Literally wasting no time, “First Flight” is very much akin to the likes of “Training Day” where the young valiant Jordan is given Sinestro as his mentor, a being who starts out showing Jordan the ropes for a day going all over the galaxy to find who murdered the original ring bearer Abin Sur. Sinestro is a crooked and violent agent of the Green Lantern Ring while Jordan finds the good it can accomplish in the universe. Sure Hal Jordan is a daredevil and a hothead who always tests his limits, but why is he so under-whelmed at what he witnesses through the length of “First Flight”? I have never seen a character react in such a blasé manner to the sight of aliens, a magic ring, space travel and superpowers before but Hal just seems to be half impressed most times while he conveys this sense that he’s being forced in to his situation.

While it is the half truth, the other times he just doesn’t seem to care enough about what’s happening around him, thus all the wonder and fantastic situations never registered with me as much as I would have liked. You’re the Green Lantern, you schmuck, give me something to work with in terms of awe! Would a simple gasp have hurt?  “First Flight” is definitely not for kids and at barely ninety minutes it makes sure to ensure us of that through some of the more graphic scenes I’ve seen in a DC Animated movie. Clocking in at seventy seven minutes, “First Flight” is an origin story and a crime story that takes us through plot twists and turns that make it feel more like a super powered neo-noir than an action film.

When the action finally gets off the ground the animation truly shines through with some excellent sequences involving interstellar dog fights and fist fights that make this a green spectacle. What also helps the production is the casting of some truly fine respective actors from Victor Garber who is immaculate as the evil Sinestro to Christopher Meloni who plays hero Hal Jordan with zeal and a sly tongue in cheek. Also on hand are Tricia Helfer and Michael Madsen who is just a natural as the gruff Kilowog. Writer Alan Burnett always keeps the story moving at a fast and steady pace while drawing his inspiration from crime thrillers that reflect on the first half of the film which deals strictly in to conspiracies and betrayal. “First Flight” is yet another fine DC Universe animated film and one that will be sure to please all fans of the Green Lantern comic books and garner new ones in the process.

As for the DVD, the single disc edition doesn’t offer much in the way of extras as the two disc, but won’t make a difference to the general consumer looking for a good time and not a history lesson on the character. What Warner has done it taken extras from other DVD’s and placed them along a list that doesn’t even scratch the surface on the Green Lantern. Why they chose to do this is very strange. We’re given a seven minute look in to the upcoming “Super/Batman: Public Enemies” which looks just great. Yay, Tim Daly is back! Woot! Kevin Conroy is back!

And then in an odd turn of events we get to see Behind the Scenes of “Justice League: New Frontier,” “Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess,” and “Batman Gotham Knight – An Anime Revolution.” Hooray for movies that have already been released. Finally we get “Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event” an eight minute look at the upcoming comic book event that features DC characters from yesteryear coming back from the dead. It’s an interesting feature but still has nothing to do with the Green Lantern movie. It’s not a perfect DVD release since consumers looking for the Single Disc will be royally shafted, but the movie more than makes up for it. Well acted, a slick story and excellent animation make this a home DVD release worth checking out.