GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS reviewed!

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
Starring the voice talents of:
Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan
Jason Isaacs as Sinestro
Elisabeth Moss as Arisia
Henry Rollins as Kilowog
Arnold Vosloo as Abin Sur
Kelly Hu as Laira
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
I’m a huge GL fan, I loved last year’s Green Lantern: First Flight, and I’m currently sporting a custom-made metal Green Lantern ring, so clearly I was looking forward to this. As a die-hard GL enthusiast, however…this left me a little cold. It’s pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t GREAT. As far as feature-length animated movies go, it’s…quaint. There is lots to enjoy and if you’re a Corps lover (not to be confused with corpse-lover, Optimous Douche, you sick bastard) you’ll get a kick out of watching this, but if you’re a fair-weather fan, I don’t think this one’s for you.

It starts off with a healthy dosage of bad-assitude though, with the attack on and immediate death of a Corps member to let us know that trouble is on the way. We’re then introduced to the Corps via the innocent and naive,¬†teen-aged newcomer Arisia (played to adorable perfection by Elisabeth Moss, of Mad Men). Here, during a big gathering featuring all our favorite players as well as the Guardians, a bunch of exposition is dumped on us revealing that Shadow Demons are coming through a portal in the Sun, created by this film’s Big Bad: Crona. This sumbitch is the creator of the Anti-Matter Universe and has a personal vendetta against the little blue guys and their legion of 5-0 in green. He plans to use a rift in the sun to return to our universe and bring about utter destruction, cause that’s what Big Baddies do, I suppose. Apparently he’s such a terrible threat that they actually evacuate the Central Battery and the Book Of OA to a location off-planet. The threat is established, the plot is set, and now…it’s campfire story time.

Like 2008′s Batman: Gotham Knight, this is an anthology piece, and the above serves as the through-line as we go through 5 different stories that take place within GL canon. Here we go:

1. The First Lantern – Written by Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim
This is the story of Avra and is an interesting look at the beginnings of the Corps, the construction of the rings and the first bunch of Lanterns, as well as the origins of the rings’ ability to create will-powered constructs. As Hal Jordan starts to tell Arisia this story, he says:
“To Quote Scripture…the first one given a ring was not the first Lantern.”
Scripture? I had never considered The GL Corps to be a religious cult before. I realized there was a BOOK OF OA and that within it was the history of the GL Corps, but I never really considered it to be a book of religious scripture until now. I’m not really sure how I feel about that.
2. Kilowog – Written by Peter J. Tomasi
This here is probably my favorite. It tells the story of Kilowog’s first battle and his short-lived relationship with Deegan, the Corps’ previous Drill Sergeant. What I didn’t know about one of the best Green Lanterns was that he had a pregnant wife when ‘Wog was still a noob. Note to self: Whatever happened to her? Here we get to see where Kilowog got the term POOZER. This is a really solid bit and it was awesome to see one of my favorite Lanterns go from Poozer to full blown Corps-man. Though why they changed the Drill Sergeant’s name from Ermey to Deegan, I’m not sure. Maybe because Ermey is an obvious nod to R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket fame? Also, Henry Rollins may be a tough looking guy in real life, but his voice is NOT appropriate for Kilowog. It isn’t nearly gruff or intimidating enough. I’m looking forward to hearing how Michael Clark Duncan sounds as ‘Wog in the GL live action film.
3. Laira – Written by Eddie Berganza
“Laira’s…unusual. She hasn’t been around long, but next to Sinestro, I don’t know another Lantern I’d rather have at my side.” This is an Asian-inspired martial arts tale of family and honor, in which we see Green Lantern Laira on her first solo mission. She was once royalty, and her first gig is to return as an emissary of the GL Corps and winds up at odds with the other members of her family, who have seemingly gone rogue. It goes on a tad too long and the martial arts really needed to be better choreographed and animated. Having recently watched the way Justice League Unlimited handled Black Canary’s fight scenes, this felt a little lazy.
4. Mogo Doesn’t Socialize – Written by Dave Gibbons
Here is a bit involving a fight between Mogo and Balfunga The Unrelenting. Balfunga hears that Mogo is the greatest Green Lantern, one that has never once been defeated, and The Unrelenting One vows to take Mogo down. This one could have been a 5 minute chapter, especially if you already know the punchline, but it’s definitely cute.
5. Abin Sur – Written by Geoff Johns
Abin Sur Vs. Atrocitus!¬† The 5 Inversions, Ysmault, the whole she-bang, all while Abin and Sinestro engage in a philosophical debate about Destiny vs Chance. Pretty awesome. Only problem here is the redesign of Atrocitus. He’s not nearly as bad-ass as he’s drawn in the comic.

Overall, there are a bunch of fun references for long time DC fans such as a reference to “The Great Crisis”, aliens that appear to be The Dominators from the INVASION! crossover from the late 1980′s, as well as the Khund and a ton more.

Another positive is the animation itself. This is a beautifully drawn piece of work, and the digital animation is almost seamlessly integrated into the hand-drawn style, unlike the last GL feature which showcased a showdown with a very CG looking yellow power battery.

Speaking of which, for some reason, this one takes place totally separately from the first animated film. Hal Jordan is training the new recruit Arisia, so he’s clearly a seasoned GL, but Sinestro is still a good guy? This isn’t that difficult, guys. Just don’t include Sinestro as one of the GLs! If Marvel can maintain a semblance of continuity in their mega-budgeted live-action films, it stands to reason that DC could at least attempt it here.
Half the fun of the Green Lantern ring’s power, for me, are the constructs that each GL makes, and there were not nearly enough constructs in this movie, but this is just me being nit-picky.

And I don’t know about you guys, but I’d prefer a GL animated feature that involves Guy Gardner, Jon Steward, Hal and Kyle Rynor, as well as the rest of the Corps. I love Hal, but let’s get some of the other human mainstays a shot.

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating/inking for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD

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4 Comments to “GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS reviewed!”

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  1. Mark Mackner says:

    I’ll be watching this with the kids tonight. I’ll let you know what we think.

  2. JD (Host) says:

    well?? what did you think?

  3. MasterFilmmaker MarkMackner says:

    I liked it! I thought it was pretty good. Like you said, it wasn’t GREAT, but I enjoyed it and didn’t feel that I wasted my money/time with it. Speaking as someone who is not exactly a GL expert, I felt it served as a decent intro to some of the supporting cast. And while I find some of your criticisms to be valid, you must take into consideration that this is kind of a tie-in to the live action movie, and therefore, assumes that many viewers are not familiar with this material. They want people to watch the animated film, and go into the live action film without being overly confused. Imagine if you’d never read GL before. You watch an animated film where the GL is Kyle Raynor and Sinestro is evil. Then, a week later, you see the live action movie where GL is suddenly named Hal Jordan, and Sinestro is introduced as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. You’d be all BUH-WHA????

    But, as you stated in the review, there ARE references in the animated film that are there for folks such as yourself, because even in their zeal to grab new fans, they don’t wanna forget the loyal ones. I’d say I’m a casual GL fan. I know the basics, and maybe a little bit deeper than that, so I dug the movie enough. Colby had fallen asleep before we could put it on, but Logan watched the whole thing with me. He knows who Green Lantern is, and knows he’s in the Justice League, but that’s probably about as much as he knows. The Corps, and the whole mythology behind that, were new to him. I was there to help with some of the more elaborate concepts, and he followed it just fine.

    He wanted more Hal, and I explained to him that this was more of an intro to the supporting characters. He got that, but he still felt he’d have been happier with more Hal. Some of the fight/battle scenes elicited some awestruck WOWs from him, so that was fun. His guess was that Balfunga was going to turn out to be Mogo somehow, and his surprise when we got the reveal at the end was really funny. I think it got him a little more stoked for the live action movie though, which is pretty much the point of the whole thing, any way.

    I thought Rollins was fine as Kilowog, but I agree with you that his voice is not quite as imposing as his own personal appearance might suggest. MCD is perfect, though. I got a kick out of Roddy Piper as Balfunga, too. I wish he was in the live action movie in some capacity. I’m also puzzled as to why they ditched the name of “Ermey” as the drill sargeant. Yes, it’s a nod to R. Lee Ermey. It’s obvious. If it flew once, why not again here? I’m sure R. Lee would be flattered by the homage.

    I didn’t care for the Book of Oa constantly being referred to as “Scripture”, either. I hope they don’t do that in the live action movie. I mean, it’s not a HUGE deal, but it did make them sound like a religious cult, and anything religious puts a bad taste in my mouth, obviously.

    My only other gripe was the villain of the central story. He had all this backstory, and was massive and powerful, yet he never said anything. He was more like a force of nature than an actual character. Like some kind of galactic storm that posed a threat more than a sentient being with an agenda. I prefer villains who taunt the heroes and such.

    But, yeah. All in all, it was a good time. I’d recommend it to others, for sure.

  4. JD (Host) says:

    “You watch an animated film where the GL is Kyle Raynor and Sinestro is evil.”
    no no no..I wasn’t saying it should be THAT..certainly keep Hal as the man, but I’m saying that at some point I’d like to see a film with all of our sector’s protectors doing some ring-slinging.

    And you don’t have to make Sinestro evil in this one…just don’t INCLUDE him. That’s the only thing that really makes this have nothing to do with the previous installment. Even the character designs are exactly the same.

    Luckily they never once called The Book Of OA “scripture” in the movie..though I don’t think they mentioned it at all! That reminds me, go over to the GL Speculation article and let us know what you think of the live action movie!

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