The role is not large, but is significant in that it kicks off one of the most exciting action scenes in the movie. For those new to the mythos, Green Lantern is a long-standing DC Comics hero steeped in the tradition of E.E. "Doc" Smith’s Lensmen. Like the Lensmen, he is a member of a galaxy-spanning police force charged with protecting those who cannot protect themselves against "the machinations of interstellar wrongdoers".
His power source lies in the form of an emerald ring, worn by the hero, capable of creating coherent energy or ‘hard light’ objects in whatever form the wearer can imagine. Even on the face of it, the effective potential of such a weapon is incredible, to say the least.
Briefly put, California test pilot HAL JORDAN is summoned against his will to a fateful meeting with an alien known as ABIN SUR. It is through this meeting that Jordan initially receives his power ring. From there, he is introduced to the vast ranks of Green Lanterns gathered from countless other worlds and their enigmatic masters, the GUARDIANS. Needless to say, his worldview quickly expands to cosmic proportions as he’s made aware that it’s a big universe out there and somebody’s got to police it.
On one of his first forays into the nether, Hal and his mentor, a veteran Green Lantern named SINESTRO, follow an investigative lead to an alien leisure world where they encounter the character of LABELLA. Ms. Landau’s portrayal lends Labella a slinky, almost bayou-like earthiness that quickly imbues the scene with a sultry heat that so many other actresses fail to achieve with far more screen time. Juliet Landau, whose skills are always a pleasure to behold, is the kind of professional whose own performances can wonderously enhance those of her fellow thespians, making the ensemble experience all the more enjoyable.
As the comic book legend of the Green Lantern is long and storied over quite a few decades, the movie is perforce an abridged encapsulation of his rise to fame. Some details are lost, such as his earthly friendship with THOMAS KALMAKU (affectionately known as "Pieface" back in the less-than-PC sixties), an aircraft mechanic responsible for the upkeep of the machines that Jordan regularly tested.
Tom shows up very briefly in an early scene sans dialogue. Moreso, the character of CAROL FERRIS, the owner of Ferris Aircraft, Jordan’s place of employment, has only a few lines, though she’s far more integral in the comic series. These nitpicks will no doubt disappoint some of the more hardcore Green Lantern fans out there, but rest assured, these omissions and alterations have been well-considered and equally well-executed.
GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT, unlike the previous DC Comics animated features, is heavily steeped in science-fiction rationale and conventions. It does not come across like a story that could just as easily have featured Superman or Wonder Woman. Great care has been taken to drive home a sense of interstellar storytelling that fits Green Lantern and only someone like him. More than SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY or JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER, GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT features some very satisfying build-ups, conflicts and resolutions that should leave a viewer wanting more.
I will hasten to say that there is one exception to what would otherwise be a sterling outing. In the final conflict between Hal and his primary adversary, there occurs an incident that should have any viewer wincing over its implications and even its inclusion in the battle. I don’t need to denote the nature of that incident. You’ll know it when you see it. Just try to keep a perspective on how good the rest of the movie has been up to that point and you should be able to get through it.
In conclusion, GREEN LANTERN FIRST FLIGHT is about as close to a thoroughly enjoyable comic book animated feature as one is likely to get, given the idiosyncracies of the source material. Despite its shortcomings, you should find it well worth the experience and, if you’re like me, you’ll consider the probability that, with each of these features, DC is learning more and more about what works and what doesn’t. Thus, each successive feature has a tendency to be a little better than the last. In that spirit, I’m eagerly looking forward to their next venture, whether it be the FLASH, AQUAMAN or even someone like GREEN ARROW. Believe me whan I say I’m about as far from being an optimist as a body can get, but even I have a strong feeling that the quality is evolving to higher and higher tiers all the time.