PaulRom Reviews: Green Lantern: The Animated Series Premiere
FYI, I didn't get to catch the premiere of GL:TAS last night when it first aired on Cartoon Network, but I managed to watch it earlier today on YouTube. I gotta say that I was pretty impressed with what I saw (I initially had low expectations). While not perfect, the hour-long event proves that the series has some serious potential, and a great way for DC to launch some of their other characters into solo TV shows (Flash, Wonder Woman, etc). As usual, I'll be putting some spoilers in the following review, so if you don't want to be spoiled before watching, then skip to the final paragraphs.
The latest DC animated series debuted last night on Cartoon Network, boasting a one hour premiere. Does it live up to expectations? Hit the jump for my take (some spoilers ahead)...
Green Lantern: The Animated Series Premiere (2011)
Kevin Michael Richardson
Approximately 1 Hr.
In the first part of the two-part series premiere episode, ace test pilot Hal Jordan, who leads a secret life as Earth's guardian Green Lantern, is called back to Oa. Searching for the culprits behind a series of Green Lantern deaths in "Frontier Space", Hal and his gruff fellow Green Lantern Kilowog "commandeer" The Interceptor, a prototype spaceship powered by pure Green Lantern energy and an advanced artificial intelligence system that Hal names Aya.
In the second half of the two-part series premiere episode, Hal and Kilowog discover that a group of Red Lanterns, including the conflicted Razer and the vile Zilius Zox have been targeting and eliminating Green Lanterns in Frontier Space. Along with the help from a surviving Frontier Space Green Lantern Shyir Rev, Hal and Kilowog must stop the Red Lantern leader Atrocitus from destroying Shyir's home planet of Colony 12.
After being excited at the thought of an animated Green Lantern series, I was personally let down by the first promo or two for the two-part series premiere. The animation looked somewhat mediocre, and made the series appear to be passable. But after watching some clips, the series eventually won me over (and I'm getting over the animation style ATM), particularly with the inclusion of the Red Lanterns (some of my favorite GL rogues). As time drew closer, I became more excited for the premiere. And after watching it earlier today, I can gladly say that it succeeds in debuting what could be a very successful series.
The voice acting in GL:TAS is very solid. I was very hesitant with Josh Keaton voicing a character like Hal Jordan (I know Keaton best as the Spectacular Spider-Man), but he does an excellent job in bringing the Emerald Knight to life. Kevin Michael Richardson (one of Keaton's costars in Transformers: Prime is delightful as Kilowog, making the character seem rather irritable but at the same time lovable. Jennifer Hale is decent as Carol Ferris, but the character isn't really made likable here (maybe it's because she only had one scene, and there's little development as a result). The portrayals of the Red Lanterns are also well done, especially the leader Atrocitus. All the other vocal performances are good as well.
The recently released live action Green Lantern succeeded in churning epic space scenes, but took in too many earth scenes (it didn't help that the scenes set on earth were mediocre to average). The Animated Series decides to ditch the whole earth thing completely, only offering one scene to remind others of Hal's background. It works very well, and it reminds me of why I fell in love with the franchise to begin with. The way most of the other characters are fleshed out is also done well (especially with Kilowog, with his mentioning that his planet was destroyed, etc), and it makes you feel for them even though they look like 3D figures and not much else.
The animation here is both good and bad. While the action sequences are awesome and visuals just as good (if not better), the way Hal Jordan looks is too off IMO. It reminds me of The Incredibles mixed with Batman: TAS. The rest of the characters are done decently, but look a bit plasticy (particularly the Red Lanterns). Despite the somewhat halfassed animation (though as stated before, I'm getting over it...slowly), the brilliant storytelling is what really makes this two-parter worthwhile.
As for flaws, it's hard to think of any other than the aforementioned flaws (lack of character development for Carol and not completely rendered animation). The dialogue is just right, there aren't too many jokes from Hal (unlike the live action film), and the Red Lanterns are a rather original choice for the villains (better than Sinestro or Parallax, who are usually the villains in Green Lantern media). Other than the animation (which could definitely use some more rendering, hopefully in future episodes), everything is executed excellently.
In the end, the two-part debut episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series is indeed a good one. It's a good example of a TV series with imperfect animation that's still worth watching for the vivid storytelling alone. Hopefully in future episodes/seasons the animation will slowly improve. But for now, I definitely recommend GL:TAS for those who like watching space related TV shows (such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Green Lantern fans in general (especially those who still feel bitter about the live action film). I can't wait to check out the future episodes, and it'd be awesome to bring in characters such as John Stewart, Tomar-Re, and Guy Gardener in the future.
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