I was looking forward to this series ever since it was announced in what seems like ages ago and the disappointment that was the feature film only served to fan those flames of excitement. I really wanted the Green Lantern franchise to redeem itself in the eyes of the general public because it’s a great concept with great characters and the film failed to convey what makes the Green Lantern mythos so great. After watching the hour long premiere of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, I’m glad to say that it perfectly encapsulates the best of what the franchise has to offer while still managing to bring something new to the table.
I won’t be drawing comparisons between the film and the Animated Series here but I feel that, inevitably, in talking about what makes the show work, I’ll be talking about why the movie doesn’t. Still, I want to focus on the Animated Series alone because this is my love letter to those two first episodes and not more vitriol against the movie (of which you can find plenty elsewhere).
And don’t worry, there won’t be spoilers here.
I remember that my initial thoughts when they first showed footage of Green Lantern: The Animated Series (henceforth GL:TAS) was “man, I wish this was cel-shaded,” so it’s only fitting that I start with the look of the show and its animation. The series sports the classic Bruce Timm style that permeated everything from Batman: The Animated Series up until Justice League Unlimited except that, this time around, it’s handled via CG and that in itself gives the show a brand new, yet still familiar look. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to The Incredibles upon viewing it or, at the very least, a less expensive version of it.
Make no mistake though because even though the backgrounds may seem a little sparse (which is something I’m sure will improve once they increase the size of their library of objects), the animation is consistently and absolutely top notch. You won’t see an odd drawing or an unconvincing motion, as you often do in more traditional animation, in this show. The characters are very expressive and there is a lot of subtlety in the animation as well as sweeping shots that really utilize the 3D space. Still, I wasn’t fully convinced in the move to CG until after I saw the light tunnel sequence. When Hal and Kilowog warp in a hijacked ship about half-way through the first episode, we are treated to a light show that is slightly reminiscent of 2001′s Star Gate sequence with neon colors rapidly flying by as they’re reflected on the inside of the ship and on Hal and Kilowog themselves. It’s one of many examples of the show’s fantastic use of lighting and that’s undoubtedly where the series benefits the most from its use of CG.
So why did Hal and Kilowog hijack a ship you might ask? Well, the series forgoes the tried and true Sinestro and opts instead to play around with the Red Lanterns. They’re the big baddies in the series and they live in the fringes of space where they have begun their attack on members of the Green Lantern Corps. After a brief (and perhaps a little cliché) introduction of Hal Jordan’s earth life and Carol Ferris we travel to Oa where Hal learns of the attacks and quickly becomes infatuated with payback. The Guardians tell him that flying to the location of the attacks would take months but he also learns that they have created a prototype ship that can get him there in a fraction of the time so, with Kilowog in tow, he promptly steals it and thus begins the show in earnest.
Much like Batman: The Animated Series, the creators of the GL:TAS wisely skip the origin story but give you all the information you need to follow along within the first 5 or so minutes of the first episode. Hal, as he’s portrayed in the show, is very likable and charismatic in spite of being cocky and careless, but there are also hints of anger issues and selfishness which goes a long way towards painting him as a real, flawed human being. Similarly, Kilowog is portrayed as the best friend with an attitude but he’s also given a huge chip on his shoulder. He also has some truly funny lines such as when he pokes fun at Hal and his efforts to conceal his secret identity in outer space. As a matter of fact, nearly every character in the show, old and new alike, is given this kind of treatment resulting in a fully fleshed out and well-rounded cast. This show made me care about a Green Lantern that didn’t exist prior to this series and I honestly can’t wait to see what’ll become of Razer (a brand new Red Lantern) after the events of the second episode.
The characters are fleshed out and believable but the plots are also suitably epic with very high stakes. There is ambivalence and tragedy, comedy and sacrifice, as well as heroes that don’t always make the right decisions. It never talks down to its audience and isn’t afraid to deal with death. Like only the best cartoons manage to do, it crafts an adventure that works on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. And credit to the show’s creators for introducing new characters and situations and going off the beaten path. With new characters and a new status quo that has Hal and Kilowog stranded in outer space, this show should be a treat even to old time Green Lantern fans.
It’s hard to judge a TV series by only two episodes but Green Lantern: The Animated Series is off to an extremely promising start. For a show about space cops and magic rings, my suspension of disbelief still managed to be strained at times (how can a ring-less Hal breathe in an asteroid without an atmosphere?) but that’s just nitpicking. The voice cast and their acting is spot on, the music hits all the right notes and the series truly breathes life into these characters in a way that respects the source material while still producing something that feels new and fresh.
It’s early to tell but this might be the show that sits alongside Batman: The Animated Series and Spectacular Spider-Man as the definite comic book cartoons.
Can’t wait for the next episode tomorrow.Posted on November 17, 2011 in Animation, Reviews |