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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Green Lantern: First Flight is the latest in a series of DVD animated movies from DC Universe and Warner Home Video. The series has been of exceptionally high quality, and this new entry is consistently entertaining. Essentially a retelling of the Green Lantern's origin story, the 77-minute feature should please fans of the comic as well as intrigue relative newcomers.

Christopher Meloni provides the voice of Hal Jordan, a pilot who comes face-to-face with a dying extraterrestrial visitor. The alien gives him a strange ring that possesses incredible powers. By accepting it, Hal is brought before the Guardians of the Universe, an intergalactic legion of protectors. They are initially hesitant to take on this new member, especially as he is their only human. Hal is nevertheless given the opportunity to try to be a member of the Green Lantern Corps and is tutored by the more experienced Sinestro (voiced by Victor Garber). Over the course of his training, he becomes to realize that Sinestro has plans to overthrow the Guardians. Hal has two options: try to take down his mentor and protect the status quo, or give in to the offer to join Sinestro in a new power structure.

Green Lantern: First Flight is interesting in that it deals with some mature subject matter. Armed with a PG-13 rating, the film has no need to pander to kids (although they may well enjoy it for the bright colors and abundant action). The story addresses issues of loyalty and betrayal, as well as showing how those things can be manipulated to affect the reigning balance of power. That's a far cry from the usual "good guy vs. bad guy" stuff you often get in animated superhero fare. I've always believed that superhero tales are best when they strive for some complexity; this one has an engrossing plot and some solid character development that grown-ups can appreciate.

I enjoyed the whole look of the movie too. The animation is good, with some impressively stylized action scenes. For those not familiar, the Green Lantern's ring is able to shoot out rays that morph into anything its wearer can envision. This leads to an exciting, witty finale in which Hal uses his powers to create, among other things, a giant golf club, suitable for driving a foe into the far reaches of space. Because the Green Lantern's powers are unique, the fights and combats feel very fresh.

Before seeing First Flight, I had only limited knowledge of Green Lantern. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay the DVD is that it made me want to become more familiar with the character and his world. It seems like the potential is here for a lot of depth, so hopefully we will see future installments continue to build upon what's already been established.

( out of four)

DVD Features:

Green Lantern: First Flight is available on DVD in widescreen format starting July 28.

A number of special features are included, primarily related to other entries in the DC Universe series. There is a sneak peek at the upcoming Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (I can't wait), and segments focusing on Justice League: A New Frontier (another quality title), Wonder Woman, and Batman: Gotham Night (my favorite so far). Finally, there is an inside look at the upcoming comic book series Blackest Night, which finds deceased DC superheroes rising from the dead. This is sure to be one of the biggest comics events of the year.

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Green Lantern: First Flight - Own it on DVD July 28

Green Lantern: First Flight is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence. The running time is 1 hour and 17 minutes.

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