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Saturday, June 11, 2011


From by Jill Pantozzi

It’s hard when the comics you take great joy and entertainment from seem to be dragging you down. It’s kind of been that way the last two weeks for me so I felt like I needed to write about something with little to no baggage. That’s why I popped my copy of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights in and sat back to enjoy the ride. And boy am I glad I did.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is the latest offering from Warner Home Video. It’s follows the same type of story plotting asBatman: Gotham Knight where there are five separate tales being told along with another that ties them all together. While I like it when the DC animated films are one story, I almost prefer this kind of direction because a lot more gets to be told.
The big draw of Emerald Knights, of course, is actor Nathon Fillion voicing Hal Jordan. Or at least, that’s what I thought going in. Some fans had rallied, going so far as to edit together a decent fan-trailer casting the actor in the live-action role, to get Fillion the part before Ryan Reynolds was cast. While disappointed, fans and the actor alike were excited he got the opportunity to play Hal anyway. But, much like those who were surprised that Superman/Batman: Apocolypsewas primarily about Supergirl, I was surprised to find out Hal Jordan was hardly in Emerald Knights. And while I love Hal, this was a great move.
In the film, Hal acts as almost entirely as narrator for the five other stories while he mentors new recruit Arisia, voiced by Elisabeth Moss. While it’s not all that graphic, I was still surprised by the violence in the opening scene. I have to remind myself that the DC animated films are rated PG-13 but I know a lot of adults will buy this for their children without seeing that just because it’s animation. Regardless, the overarching plot is set up, revealing the rogue Guardian Krona may be trying to transport himself from the anti-matter universe to ours and the Green Lantern Corps are ordered by the Guardians to keep watch. Although he also doesn’t have the largest part, Sinestro, voiced by Jason Isaacs, is still a Green Lantern in the film and commands a great deal of respect.
My favorite piece of the film is the portion that deals with Laira, voiced by Kelly Hu. Now a Red Lantern in the comics, it was nice to see her origin story told, albeit slightly altered. Hal tells Arisia the story of Laira’s first solo mission which brought her to her home planet of Jayd and a confrontation with her father. The action sequences here are top notch. For those who aren’t familiar with her story, there’s a heavy Asian influence so the fighting is martial arts heavy and very intricate. I’m not going to spoil the actual story but let’s just say we need to see more Laira in the comics.
For sheer comedic value, my next favorite piece was the Mogo-centric, “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize.” This one was adapted from the Green Lantern story of the same name from 1985. In it, the great warrior, Bolfunga the Unrelenting, sets his sights on one of my favorite members of the GL Corps and finds being unrelenting can also be rather frustrating. Wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper voices Bolfunga and is probably one of the best casting choices I’ve seen in a while. Mogo is, well, Mogo but he really shows his awesomeness in the last portion of the film.
The first and second stories in the film feature the first Green Lantern, Avra, whose story is new and Kilowog who learned the word “Poozer” from his drill sergeant Deegan. While not the story we know from the comics (the first Lantern there was Rori Dag), the first is a touching tale of the four individuals to be chosen by the Guardians to protect the universe as Green Lanterns for the first time ever. Three are warriors while Avra is basically a glorified secretary for the Guardians. Their learning curve with their power rings is dramatic to watch, especially when they are pitted against a much larger and seemingly stronger force. And the future of Avra’s power ring is also very special. Kilowog’s story is essentially another origin tale. The tables are turned as we see him as the recruit, voiced by Henry Rollins, and Deegan as the gruff veteran, voiced by Wade Williams. Getting to see Kilowog as the newbie is quite the treat. Especially as you see where a lot of his training tactics came from. The relationship between him and Deegan is short-lived but makes an impression.
The fifth story, while still entertaining, was probably my least favorite of the bunch. My primary reason for that was although the focus was on the Arnold Vosloo voiced Abin Sur and Isaac’s Sinestro, I didn’t feel there was enough time spent showing their mutual admiration for each other and friendship. There was some of that for sure but I felt that could have been more of a highlight. Instead we see Abin fighting and capturing Atrocitus. To those of us familiar with the comics, Atrocitius is very familiar. He’s the leader of the Red Lanterns and a dangerous adversary. There are some very interesting plot points brought up in this section, specifically by Atrocitus that leave a lot of questions for future events.
Emerald Knights was pure, unadulterated fun. Green Lantern fans will find plenty to be excited about while new viewers will be schooled in the way of the Corps in advance of the live-action film. I’d recommend it if you’re trying to initiate someone into the mythology, there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll want to know more after watchingEmerald Knights. The finale is intense and filled with the teamwork you’ve come to expect from the Corps. It was a great ride, with explosive action and fantastic voice acting and it was nice that they allowed Hal to take a back seat this time and let the many other interesting and valuable members of the Corps shine.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is now available in stores and online.
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