Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) Blu-ray Review
Movies reviewSRP: £18.57
DC play a blinder with the video transfer of Green Lantern, bringing it to BD with a 1.78:1 VC-1 encode that is scorching with vibrancy, incredibly clean and smooth-looking and slicker than a cosmic eel in a sea of stars.
Pleasingly, the transfer does not suffer from edge enhancement, noise, smearing or artefacts. However, that insidious and under-handed affliction that blights practically every DC and Marvel animated BD so far, colour-banding, is still present - but the good news is that this the slightest, most trivial example of it to date and, as such, it is not a problem in the least. Colours are strong, blinding in some cases, and the image is often so bold it feels intimidating. The wonderful brilliance of the greens is beyond reproach. Beams, glows, radiating fields of the stuff and, naturally, the primal immediacy of the rings and the uniforms, themselves, all extol a nigh-on perfect hue that can be soothing, or aggressive. But always beautiful. Blues have a full range of hues, too. Reds are sharp and full. Background colours add flavour, but are generally softer - planet surfaces, clouds and skylines etc. Skin-tones are obviously varied depending upon the species in question, but are consistent throughout. Contrast is absolutely terrific, with every frame immaculately maintained. Blacks are incredibly strong for the most part, although there are a couple of star-fields that seem to waver in depth and integrity.
Background details can suffer as a result of the animation style - after all, we are in the land of big imagery where the little things, like texture, don't properly exist - but skies, constellations, mountain ridges and industrial/alien cityscapes still have a vibrancy that helps main the foreground all the more scintillating. And three-dimensionality is also on offer, especially when Sinestro gives chase to Kanjar-Ro down impossibly long roads and tunnels, and during some of the mass-destruction scenes at the end. And the bringing together of two moons during the climax is wonderfully evocative and full of depth and dimensionality. Lines are bold and clearly rendered and I experiences absolutely no judders, shimmies or other errors associated with this style of animation. In particular, shots of characters tumbling to Earth - or whatever planet - have a steadiness that some earlier releases would have botched.
Green Lantern: First Flight offers a tremendous image that is a joy to look at.
Warner Premier's DC release carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 as well as a more restrained DD 5.1 option.
Although the lossless experience here is not the best around - it is primarily frontal in its attack, and some of its heavier bass elements can be weakened by a low prioritisation in the mix - it remains an often exciting one. The fantastic score from regular animated film composer, Robert Kral, comes over very well and contains a fair amount of separation and clean instrumentation. The stereo spread across the front is suitably wide and the steerage is certainly discernible with voices and effects often sweeping from side to side. Panning out across the rest of the set-up is surprisingly fewer and farther between. There are elements that move across the environment, but the overall effect is coming at you, rather than around you.
Laser beams can strike out at the rear channels on occasion. Rubble and debris can scatter around the back, too. But the whooshing of rockets, Green Lantern ring propulsion and some explosive panning around provide the best examples of the limited surround use.
A lot of attention has been given over to the presentation of the voices. Basically, nothing, not even the mightiest explosion, will drown them out. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the often quite aggressive bass levels can, on occasion, be dialled down so as not to interfere with the dialogue. But this is the nature of the beast, I suppose. Every line is important and plot-moving in an animated film, so best to leave them in the clear. But that variable bass level can also be quite powerful at times. Certain impacts and explosions hit you with some force and there is sometimes that great residual deep thrumming that permeates the air and floorboards in a wave. I like that sort of thing, and Green Lantern has a little bit of it to offer.
Basically, this is a good, solid audio track that is vibrant and alive throughout, and only really suffers when it comes to consistency.
What starts out as an extensive-looking package of bonus material swiftly ends up being commendable only with regards to either glimpses of other DC animated movies, including a 8-minute look at their next offering of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, or for the extensive collection of Green Lantern TV show episodes from JLA and even, in a great touch, Duck Dodgers in the 22-minute episode Green Loontern. The featurettes are decked-out, slick and fancy, full of illustrations, clips and stuffed with DC artists, writers and whatnot, but they are of the devoutly obvious from start to finish, hammering home the facts that stand out a mile to anyone with a half a brain. You may not be an ardent fan of the cosmic green, but you can pretty much guess the origins and influences that shaped the idea of a ring of power for yourself. You don't 22 minutes of authors, lecturers and comic-book artists telling you about the history of talismans, amulets and God-given powers to work out how this divine responsibility gig fits in with the Green Lantern Corps and those half-pint wonder-boys, the Guardians, do you?
No, trust me on this - you don't.
Thus, the featurette entitled I Am The Ring is a waste of time, to be honest. The participants deliver mini-sermons about how the story is bound over by history and cultural tradition and how it ties in, completely, with folklore, Tolkien and even The Bible.
But then the other three pieces that embrace the movie are hardly revelatory, either. Behind The Story is 9 minutes of pap from Geoff Johns, as he talks about his love for the character and the theme of “overcoming fear”, something that ALL superheroes embody, not just Hal Jordan as Johns seems to think. More importantly, he discusses his run on the GL comics and his compulsion to bring it back to its core elements.
Then there is the blink-and-you'll-miss-'em 4-minute featurettes that take blurtingly obvious looks at Sinestro and The Guardians. Why do this? I mean, seriously, beyond simply padding-out the disc's selection list of extras, what is the point of sitting down and putting this stuff together? Whether you are a comic-book fan, a GL fanatic, or a complete newcomer to the story, just watching the film provides you with all the details you need to know about these characters. Lame. Just lame.
In a regular feature, DC provides us with a souped-up mega trailer for their forthcoming animated venture, the crossover Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which looks great and is an adaptation of the critically praised comic run from Ed McGuinness and Jeph Loeb.
We also get a First Looks at Wonder Woman, Justice League: New Frontiers and Batman: Gotham Knight (all reviewed separately) which, of course, have been out for some time now.
Oh, and then there's Geoff Johns, again, in a 9-minute look at his comic-world shake-up run for Green Lantern, entitled Blackest Night, which promises a host of zombified supers digging themselves out of the ground and getting hungry. Looks cool.
Bruce Timm's hand-picked episodes from Justice League are One And Future Thing parts 1 and 2, Hearts and Minds part 1 and 2 and The Return. All of which are terrific.
There is also a digital copy of the film supplied.
This is a definite step down from previous releases from DC. A commentary is sorely missed, as is a proper making-of. The presence of quite a few good episodes that are already available elsewhere - and that fans will already have, anyway - is not a good enough reason to "up" the score, I'm afraid. What is here, is poor.
5 out of 10, folks.
It may be enjoyable, and it is certainly colourful and action-packed, but Alan Burnett's take on Geoff Johns' Green Lantern: First Flight is still a backward step for DC's Animated stable. Even for a comic-book narrative, this is juvenile stuff, despite the inclusion of the odd swear word. The plotting is ridiculously simple, possibly to the point of being insulting. The characterisation is threadbare. Green Lantern offers up virtually unlimited scope for stories, yet this is purely derivative hokum that may be green and yellow, but is inescapably black and white in terms of concept.
DC supply a transfer of a very high standard, however. The AV is great - mind-caressing visuals and a sturdy, occasionally bass-heavy audio track. The extras, apart from the Bruce Timm approved episodes of JLA and Duck Dodgers are a pathetic sham - padded-out waffle that tells us exactly nothing that isn't already outright obvious. A let-down in these terms, I'm afraid. Where was the commentary, eh?
However, I am an ardent fan of these superheroes and champion each and every release that they get, whether it be their original comic-books, their live-action film adaptations or their animated counterparts - and it is great that some of the lesser-regarded characters are getting their chance to shine. And, in this case, the shine of Green is very welcome, even if the end result is a touch disappointing.
Great animation, but a poor story. Still, this is enjoyable escapism for kids of all ages.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.57
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