GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT
Cast (v): Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber
Writer: Alan Burnett, Michael Allen, Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Release: 28 July 2009
DC Comics, 75 mins., Rated PG-13
I didn't know a single thing about the Green Lantern character, or its vast mythology when I popped in First Flight. Turns out the Green Lantern property is actually pretty darn cool. Cool enough that I am now really looking forward to a big-screen adaptation of this character, although I'm not entirely 100% on the Ryan Reynolds casting choice. Anywhoozles, First Flight works great as both a film for first timers and for those who know this franchise inside and out. For the newbies, we get all the necessary backstory that's relevant, as well as some quick notes about the race of Lanterns and their role in the galaxy (note: coolness!).
Hal Jordan witnesses a crash in the far distance, and rushes to their aid, only to find a dying green man who spouts off something about destiny. The great warrior Sinestro and other Lanterns hold Jordan under supervision while they investigate their fallen comrade's death, but find that perhaps Jordan is meant for a greater destiny, as the deceased's green ring of power (which harnesses the 'green element') chooses himself as the successor. Hal finds himself in the middle of a war, with a key member of the Guardians of the Universe betraying the others and in search of the 'yellow element', the only weakness to the Guardians. Basically, Armaggedon all over again.
I love every single one of these films, and unfortunately I'm not going to go into too much detail, but the fine line is that these are all superbly crafted animated movies. Green Lantern, however, does suffer from a small flaw: lack of character development defeated by a short running time. A flaw that I don't quite understand; it's a animated flick, they could write and animate any scenes they want. Watching Hal Jordan come to terms with this whole galactic order of peace keepers, and come to terms to his powerful role in events - I wouldn't have minded a few scenes of him trying to grasp it. Terry had more emotional moments in the Batman Beyond pilot.
First Flight is high on action and plot, but sadly light on character. However, I can't blame them too much. They have a product to sell, and more likely than not, youngsters and teens are picking these up to see some planetary explosions and aliens doing universe-saving deeds. So plot, not exactly high on the top of their list. Still, it was fun, and the story is highly intriguing, so I demand sequel.
Cast (v): Fred Tatasciore, Bryce Johnson, Steven Blum, Matthew Wolf, Nolan North
Writer: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Director: Frank Paur & Sam Liu
Release: 27 January 2009
Marvel Animation, 82 mins., Rated PG-13
A title with "VS." in the title has a certain league of battleage that it needs to match in order to meet expectations. "VS." as in King Kong vs. Godzilla, Freddy vs. Jason, Somebody vs. Somebody Else that I Don't Know [not a actual movie title], etc., etc. And holy potatoes, Hulk vs. matches expectations many times over, and even offered elements that were very welcomed.
First up, "Hulk vs. Thor." That was EPIC! Just judging this story as a stand-alone, pushing "Hulk vs. Wolervine" out of my mind, the second installment had a lot to live up to. It's not just a mano-a-mano fight to the death between The Hulk and Thor, it integrates and ties all these multitude of elements - Odin's sleep, Loki's rebellious nation, Hela and the Underworld, Thor's issues with all manner of mortals, immortals, and Gods - into one pleasant, cohesive, and all around EPIC storyline. [My apologies for tossing around the word EPIC a bazillion times; I just can't think of another way to describe how massive this story is] This is a brutal battle, with the rage-fueled Hulk, the puppet of the God Loki who wants Thor out of the way, pulverizing the Norse God to the brink of death.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that "Hulk vs. Thor" relied heavily on The Hulk instead of being a Thor vehicle. And the biggest and happiest surprise was the role of Edward Norton-esque Bruce Banner in this story. He's ripped from the Beast, his own, free self. And when faced with the most difficult choice he'd ever have to make in his life - forfeiting a life of happiness for the sake of the people of Asgard (which looks a lot like Helm's Deep, but with more buildings behind its giant walls), watching Bruce struggle with his decision is as dramatic and engaging as any My Sister's Keeper type flick. It's a personal story, really, with a lot of ass kicking thrown in to appease the male audience. If I was rich enough, I'd help finance a live action adaptation of this into a feature length film, because it's that damn cool.
"Hulk vs. Wolverine", on the other hand, isn't as awesome. There are, of course, highlights: the ever talkative Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, who is on his A game here; Wolverine fighting Hulk instead of Weapon X; Deathstrike's obsession with killing Wolverine; and a lot of explosions and limbs coming off. However, it's not as personal, not as deep, and I guess that's a given with the title, but "Hulk vs. Thor" kinda spoiled me. In the story, taking place during Wolverine's early years (I assume), Logan is sent to Canada by Department H to track down and eliminate this giant green beastie. Turns out he and the Hulk are part of a larger picture masterminded by The Professor of Weapon X. Hulk and Wolvie fight Sabertooth, Deathstrike, Deadpool, and some other baddies and a lot of havoc ensues. Good, but not great, "Hulk vs. Wolverine" is fun, and a tiny bit shorter. The inclusion of Weapon X into the plotline was initially a little jarring, but as piece of plot after piece unravel, I can dig it more.
Overall, Hulk vs. was a enjoyable experience, and it's been awhile since I got to watch some good pulverizing going on, yah know? This is just getting me even more pumped up for Planet Hulk. "Hulk vs. Thor" is the clear victor - being smart, jaw-dropping, and EPIC; "Hulk vs. Wolverine" is cleverly written, dialogue-wise, bloody and indulging in limb-severing hysteria, and generally pretty good.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES
Cast (v): Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Xander Berkley, Allison Mack, CCH Pounder
Writer: Stan Berkowitz
Director: Sam Liu
Release: 29 September 2009
DC Comics, 67 mins., Rated PG-13
First night this gem came out, I rented it from a Redbox. I sadly haven't had the opportunity to revisit the movie, so don't really count this short review as a, well, 'review' per se. From memory, I can say that it was phenomenal watching Superman and Batman fight against super-powered enemies, both friends and foes. To watch Lex Luthor turn the world against these costumed heroes, place a bounty on their heads, and see all the individuals who would gladly turn them in - and those who decide to stick with them...it was all very interesting, very engaging.
If there's one thing in the entire universe that will instantly grab my attention, it's a story of Lex Luthor meddling with both Superman and Batman. Lex barging into Batman's territory in the graphic novel Batman: No Man's Land was delicious, and I keep wishing (although I'm sure it'll go unfulfilled) that some 'event' like this happens in the movie adaptations.
Aside from the premise, what I liked many consisted of Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly reprising their world renowned vocal roles, basically every fight scene, and Lex Luthor. Although the movie itself was good, the animation came across as a little sloppy - it seemed like not a lot of effort was put into it. Watching the film, I was sorta missing the good ol' days of animation (the 90's) when everything seemed to move fluently and nearly lifelike. And by lifelike, I mean everything you saw onscreen, you experience almost like it's a real, live-action movie, and you're right in the middle of it. One disappointing aspect of this and some other animated Marvel/DC films of late is that it doesn't accomplish that. It feels like animation. It's simply dodgy. Oh, and that stuff with the Toyman in Tokyo....yeah, that was bad.
Public Enemies may not have excelled in the animation department (at least in my opinion; I seem to be one of the very few on the planet to express such), but the overall product is powerful.
Cast (v): Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Rosario Dawson, Alfred Molina
Writer: Gail Simone & Michael Jelenic
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Release: 03 March 2009
DC Comics, 75 mins., Rated PG-13
Why are they having trouble getting a live action Wonder Woman out of Development Hell? This is the perfect presentation of how the character should be done, adapted to the big screen. This flick has it all: a lot of action to keep all audiences entertained, very witty and exact dialogue that's absolutely marvelous and definitely one of the script's strong suits, great musical cues, fine editing, etc., etc. There's basically not a bad bone in this movie's arsenal.
The movie opens with a epic fight between the Amazons and Ares centuries ago; Ares loses, and is imprisoned. Cut to present time, as Princess Diana (Russell) comes into her own as a Amazon, and proves herself to be a powerful weapon. A incident involving a American fight pilot entering their lands inspires the Queen to open themselves to the outside world. Plans don't exactly follow through as, well, planned - Ares is released from bondage and decides to unleash Hell on Earth. Diana, endowed with extraordinary powers, leads the Amazons into a battle that will decide the fate of the world.
Awesome. Does that synopsis sound like one of the coolest stories on planet earth? Well, it should. These Amazons are brutal. The direct-to-DVD line allows DC to go all-out, and Wonder Woman and Marvel's Hulk vs. perfectly display this. Washington, D.C. gets demolished as the Amazons fights Ares and his seemingly never-ending goons, and it's glorious to watch. It's equally glorious to really see a female character that is by no means bound by cultural views of being a woman. By this, I mean Diana/Wonder Woman's just as amazing and powerful as any Batman or Superman. However, the whole 'feminist power' thing does show up sporadically, and that got kind of annoying after awhile; c'mon, folks, show it, don't tell it.
The script is superb. The characters, the dilemmas, the choices and consequences, the role of mythology ever present, the storyline - all of it, I love it. My only problem would be the American pilot, Steve Trevor, acting as a love interest to Diana. If they were going to introduce romance into a Wonder Woman movie, wait for the sequel. Her first outing as a action star should be all about her; men shouldn't be on her radar - the fight should.
In summation, I can easily attest to all the rave review for Wonder Woman: it's absolutely the best of the DC Original Animated Movies line....yet....
And Hollywood? Hire Joss Whedon the hell up again pronto and get this project rolling before cameras, because he is the absolute best person in Hollywood to be spear-heading this film. And yeah, I'd definitely be first person in line.