Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)

Actors: Nathan Fillion, Jason Isaacs, Elisabeth Moss
Format: Animated, Widescreen
Language: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: June 7, 2011





Anthologies are always a hit-and-miss affair: you take the best along with the worst and hope that the mix ultimately proves worthwhile . . .

DC Comics’ animated DVD scored an absolute coup with their Gotham Knight anthology and now it tries to repeat the feat with Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. It doesn’t reach quite the same heights, with a slightly blander palate and storyline, but as a tune-up course for the upcoming Green Lantern movie, it acquits itself in decent fashion.

Six stories make up the anthology, including the centerpiece that entails an attack by an inhumanly powerful entity from another dimension. The Green Lantern Corps is called upon to put it down, and as they prepare, human Green Lantern Hal Jordan (voiced by Nathan Fillion) tells a new recruit stories about their fellow Lanterns. The first tale concerns the founding of the Corps, and the discovery that the green power rings can focus the user’s will to create virtual constructs. An unlikely recruit discovers that his mind matters more than his might, and sets the standard for all Lanterns to follow.

The remaining four tales center around current Lanterns and their various travails: the porcine Kilowog’s introduction to the Corps (and the origin of his catch phrase “poozer”); the relentless Laira Omoto’s return to her home plant, where she must confront her warlord father; a tale of the one-of-a-kind Lantern Mogo; and an early adventure of Abin Sur – the dying Lantern who found Hal Jordan -- capturing a very wily intergalactic criminal.

All six stories have a nice punchy style and a dedication to the characters that serve them well.

Directors Chris Berkeley, Lauren Montgomery and Jay Oliva combine their respective visions admirably, drawing from a wealth of DC Comics backgrounds to bring the film to life. The episodes remain true to their origins without losing newbies in the process. Emerald Knights assumes you know the basics about the Green Lantern Corps and Hal Jordan; if you don’t, the first storyline gets you caught up very quickly. If you’re looking to familiarize yourself with the most obscure corners of Lantern lore before the live-action movie comes out, Emerald Knights is a fast and efficient way to do it.

Unfortunately, that “mixed bag” thing raises its head more often than not.

Many of the stories are based on deeply clichéd notions – the grizzled sergeant training a team of rookies, the child who confronts her corrupted parent, etc. – and Emerald Knights can’t always summon the imagination to combat it. The inclusion of aliens and power rings simply papers over the problem instead of properly addressing it, and while it makes for some fun visuals, the thin structure underneath pokes through more often than it should.

Luckily, the short running time means that Emerald Knights moves on before true boredom can set in; if you don’t like one story, just sit tight and another will be along in ten or fifteen minutes. Fillion makes a pleasant and amiable narrator, and the points where the film really hums – particularly in the Abin Sur and Mogo portions – help power through the weaker spots.

They can’t bring Emerald Knights into the ranks of the very best DC Comics movies, but after the dreadful disappointment of All-Star Superman, its flaws remain eminently forgivable. It achieves its appointed task of deepening the Green Lantern universe for a wider audience, and conjures some satisfying moments in the process. This series tends to do best when Batman is involved, and with Year One due later this summer, we don’t have to wait long. In the meantime, Emerald Knights holds the line quite nicely, setting the table for (hopefully) better things to come.

THE DISC: The Blu-Ray contains a decent pair of documentaries – one about the nature of heroism as it applies the Green Lantern Corps in general and one about writer Geoff Johns, who brought Hal Jordan back in the comics. Johns also provides audio commentary for the film, along with DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio. Bruce Timm provides two older cartoons (these from Batman: The Brave and the Bold), and the set concludes with two brief pieces on Laira Omoto and Abin Sur, a virtual comic book, a preview of the upcoming Year One and the usual bevy of trailers. We miss the inclusion of a short featuring a lesser-known DC hero (one of the high points of previous DC animated movies), but considering that the main movie fulfills the same basic purpose, it’s an easily excused omission.

WORTH IT? A bargain price might serve you better than the full price, though Green Lantern fans should pick it up regardless.

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re counting your pennies, hold out for Year One in a few months, or pick up a copy of First Flight, the Hal Jordan origins story. Emerald Knights is well worth it as a rental, however, of if you have some extra money for a Blu-ray purchase and nothing else to do with it.

- Rob Vaux



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