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With the upcoming release of Warner Brothers and DC Comics’ big screen outing of “Green Lantern” about to hit theaters it only makes sense that they would have a direct-to-DVD animated film to get the uninitiated interested in the character and world, and “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights” does the job admirably. “Emerald Knights” is an anthology, much like “Batman: Gotham Knight” that tells six different stories though unlike that film there is a central storyline that weaves in between the telling of each story. Essentially an introduction to some much loved characters, “Emerald Knights” takes the viewers on a journey through the mythos of Green Lantern, while still keeping the viewer interested with some amazing action.
The main story tells of an impending danger to Oa, home planet of the Green Lantern Corps. We follow young recruit Arisa Rrab (Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”) as she learns about some of her fellow Lanterns in the Corps through stories told by Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion, “Castle”). Each one of the stories illustrates what makes each character a valued part of the Corps, well for the most part. The middle story is just for fun, but highlights a very cool member of the Corps. The ending is a bookend to the story that starts the film off and is woven between the others, but it is an all-out battle, and has some really epic space combat. The stories break down rather simply and are only about 10 minutes a piece but are all pretty well done.
“The First Lantern” tells the story of Avra, a simple scribe who was the first to truly discover the power of the ring and what it can do.
“Kilowog” which tells the story of the Lantern Drill Sergeant’s early days in the Corps, and where he got the word “Poozer” from.
“Laira” is the story of Green Lantern Laira, from the planet Jayd. A warrior caste planet, Laira’s homecoming is anything but happy.
“Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” is based on an Alan Moore story (of course his name doesn’t appear in the credits) about a warrior named Bolphunga, the Unrelenting who is in search of Lantern Mogo as he’s never been defeated. He gets quite a surprise when he finds his quarry. I won’t spoil it for those who don’t know who Mogo is.
“Abin Sur” I the story of Hal Jordan’s predecessor and features Sinestro. On a routine mission to return a prisoner, Abin Sur and Sinestro discuss the idea of destiny and luck, and Abin Sur gets a glimpse into the future.
The sixth story “Emerald Knights” is the over arching threat of Krona attacking Oa and the Corps that threads throughout the film. And though it does feel a bit glossed over it does show that not every cataclysmic event allows the time for preparation.
Directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery who have co-directed before and both done solo work for DC/Warner Premiere, “Emerald Knights” is a great way for the non fan to get indoctrinated into the Corps, though I would suggest “Green Lantern: First Flight” as well to get people up to speed on Hal Jordan, but the big screen film will do the same. As per usual Andrea Romano has chosen a spot on cast starting with fan favorite Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan. Though Fillion gets pretty much relegated to narrator status he brings the right amount of charm to the character, and he plays him as a more experienced version than Chris Meloni did in “First Flight” which I like. Jason Isaacs steps into the boots of Sinestro that Victor Garber once filled. Though not as arrogant sounding, he still gave that air of superiority that the character needed. The biggest surprise to me was Henry Rollins as Kilowog. I previously had to get used to Michael Madsen as the character after hearing Dennis Haysburt play him in “Justice League.” But with a little extra bass, Rollins really pulled the military minded aspect well. Roddy Piper rocks as Bolphunga and his over the top delivery sells the character. Arnold Vosloo does Abin Sur justice, while Kelly Hu voiced the martial expert Laira, and Wade Williams took on Deegan, Kilowog’s instructor. Everyone is fantastic.
The animation style is pretty much the same as in “First Flight” with some minor changes to characters, but each story has a slightly different style with it’s shading and colors, and it makes each story feel just a little different. The picture and sound quality were amazing, and during the major battles it was like a full on sci-fi flick in a theater.
We also get a wealth of special features that include:
- Sneak Peak at Batman: Year One, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
- Behind-the-Scenes look at All-Star Superman
- Featurette: “Only the Bravest: Tales of The Green Lantern Corps” – Bravery is the unique, identifying characteristic of each Green Lantern. Yet what does it mean to be brave? How has the world of Green Lantern and the Corps made bravery into something we can all relate to? This story reveals and defines the bond that holds together the Green Lanterns’ affection for the ring, and the ring’s unwavering loyalty in return.
- Audio Commentary: Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns
- “Green Lantern” Digital Comic Book
- Two bonus episodes from animated television series handpicked by Bruce Timm.
- Standard and high definition versions of the feature film
- Digital copy on disc of the feature film
- Featurette: “Why Green Lantern Matters: The Talent of Geoff Johns” – Geoff Johns is a force to be reckoned with. He’s not only the Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, he’s a New York Times bestselling writer with a fresh and vibrant storytelling perspective. Johns discusses his contemporary take on the Green Lantern character and why that character resonates in our culture.
- From Comic Book to Screen: Abin Sur – Take a peek into Geoff John’s “Green Lantern Secret Origin” book which, for the first time, showed fans what really happened to Abin Sur before he crashed landed on Earth, and passed his ring to Hal Jordan.
- Beautiful … But Deadly – From Comic Book to Screen: Laira Omoto – Green Lantern: Emerald Knights again creatively weaved a riveting comic book short story into the intricate plot of the film while introducing the honorable Green Lantern, Laira Omoto. Known as one of the Green Lantern Corps’ fiercest warriors, this mini-featurette takes a deeper look into the history and origin of this humanoid marital artist and her family feud with the Golden Dragon!
So whether you’re a ring slinging member of the Corps, a new fan, or completely new to the world of Green Lantern, “Emerald Knights” has something for everyone.
Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery (director) / Eddie Berganza, Alan Burnett, Todd Casey, Dave Gibbons, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim , Geoff Johns, Peter Tomas (screenplay)
CAST: Nathan Fillion … Hal Jordan (voice)
Jason Isaacs … Sinestro (voice)
Elisabeth Moss … Arisia (voice)
Kelly Hu … Laira (voice)
Arnold Vosloo … Abin Sur (voice)
Steve Blum … Guardian of OA (voice)
Henry Rollins … Kilowog (voice)