FIRST, THE COMIC BOOK RANT. YOU CAN SKIP TO THE REVIEW A FEW PARAGRAPHS DOWN.
I don’t know if my regular readers have noticed this or not, but I tend to spend an unusual amount of time bemoaning the quality of modern comic books. A big part of this, I’ll admit, is simply coming from a different era. Everybody tends to like things they grew up with more than is reasonable. But it’s also because comics are kind of lame now.
Let’s be fair though. When I complain about modern comics, I’m actually complaining about modern superhero comics because those are what I like. Those are what I prefer to read. There are some great non-superhero comics out there, but, honestly, I’m just not interested most of the time in these. I hear the accolades for Fables, The Walking Dead, 100 Bullets, etc, and while I don’t dislike them, I find nothing particularly appealing about them. Nope. For better or worse, when I think of comics, I think of superheroes.
And when I think of superheroes, I think in broad terms. Good versus evil. Surreal. Melodramatic. Inventive. (Things I prefer not to think of but tend to pop up: zombies, morality plays, rape. But I digress.) While there’s no reason for a lack of subtlety, there’s also nothing wrong with remembering that these are stories about people in strange costumes fighting other people in strange costumes, usually employing bizarre powers and signature gimmicks. And, yes, Batman fans. This applies just as much to your vaunted “realistic” superhero as anyone. Unless you happen to know of any clowns in purple tuxedos who have access to a gas that makes you laugh until you die with a permanent smile left on your face.
But enough of my redundant, overstated comic book criticism. Let’s actually get to the review.
REVIEW BEGINS HERE:
Green Lantern: First Flight is a terrific animated film. While it is indeed a bit bloodier and grittier than I generally prefer, it never panders and always entertains. I am not a Green Lantern fan. I like the idea, like his powers. But in comics, I just haven’t read a Green Lantern story that thrilled me. But First Flight makes me realize that he can be awesome.
Superhero stories should be defined by action. Anyone who says otherwise has no truck with me. Superheroes and supervillains are not about talking. They’re about leaping into adventure and kicking butt. First Flight soars on this level. The action is fantastic, thrilling, inventive, and just plain cool. Green Lantern is one of those characters that thrives with clever writing. And when you watch Hal Jordan pound a giant orb of death with an even more giant glowling green baseball bat, you know you’re watching something incredible.
Of course, writing is important. It’s not just about punching bad guys in the face. The writing in First Flight is rock solid. The story isn’t groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Too often, “subtle” writing is just a code word for “overly complicated” and “dull”. But First Flight manages to keep its story going while investing in its characters and world. Sinestro is a bizarrely sympathetic, ruthless, and classic villain. (He’s like Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda in that way.) You aren’t going to like Sinestro, but you are going to respect him. And when he is finally defeated (hope that’s not giving anything away that the bad guy loses), you are glad to see him get his just desserts.
Can I also take a moment here to mention how fantastic the animation is in this movie? It is unbelievable. From the body language and character design to the thrilling action sequences and quiet moments. This is quality from top to bottom.
Also, Kilowog is in this, and Kilowog will always be the best Green Lantern in my universe. (P.S. If you’re ever looking for someone to write a Kilowog min-series, DC, you know where to find me.)
First Flight is a solid sci fi superhero adventure. If you’re not familiar with Green Lantern, you don’t need to be. And if you are a Lantern fan . . . well . . . hard to say there. I’ve heard some fans complain about the film, and I’m not one myself (as previously noted) so that’s a toss up.
Listen, I think we can all agree that I’m a great writer and therefore, must have great taste. So check out Green Lantern: First Flight. Watch space cops with magic rings fight evil alien crime lords for the fate of the universe. And if that doesn’t sound cool to you . . . I gotta say we live in very different worlds.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,