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Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

Warner Bros. (2011), Warner Home Video (June 7, 2011), BD + DVD, 84 mins, 16:9 ratio, Dolby Digital 5.1, Rated PG, Retail: $24.98

Storyboard:

While Hal Jordan mentors young Arisia on her first mission as a Green Lantern, he and others tell her legendary stories of the Green Lantern Corps. A framing sequence brings back a classic enemy, while the other stories relate tales of sacrifice and bravery.

The Sweatbox Review:

Ah, the inevitable movie tie-in. Marvel did it recently for Thor, and now Warner Bros. and DC Comics do it for Green Lantern. In both cases, fans get flashbacks, but unlike Thor: Tales of Asgard, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights focuses less on the “main” hero, and more on the concept that defines him. This movie is an anthology, with all the good and bad that can come of that— but mostly good. And unlike Batman: Gotham Knight (note the similar title), the art style stays relatively consistent throughout Emerald Knights, firmly placing all the separate stories into their own cohesive universe.

The Green Lantern Corps are gathered on the planet Oa by the Guardians Of The Universe, in order to face a huge threat. The Guardians tell their Lanterns that Krona— a legendary enemy— is reconstituting himself after being dissipated some time ago, with his energies located in the anti-matter universe. Now, shadow demons not seen since “the great crisis” (a sly reference to the comic book epic Crisis On Infinite Earths) have begun to cross over from the anti-matter universe into our own. One victim of the shadow demons was a Green Lantern, and her death is shown in all its gruesome glory.

The Corps prepare for battle as Oa is evacuated. While waiting in line to charge their power rings at the Central Power Battery, Hal Jordan counsels his nervous apprentice, Arisia. Arisia is brand-new to the Corps, and has not yet learned of the history contained within the Book Of Oa, which is the first treasure to be taken away for safekeeping. Hal begins by telling her the tale of how and why the Corps was first formed, countless centuries ago. We find out that there were four beings who were initially given rings, with one of them being a humble scribe. This is the story of his discovery of how the rings could be made to form constructs of pure energy. Not all the new original Lanterns survive their first mission, but they learn valuable lessons not only about the constructs, but also about bravery and willpower.

Next, after Arisia finds herself intimidated by the huge Green Lantern Kilowog, the Corps’ drill sergeant, Hal tells her about Kilowog’s own training experience with Deegan. It turns out that Deegan was far worse a drill sergeant than Kilowog, who is demanding but does show at least some respect to his recruits. The tale of Deegan and Kilowog emphasizes the risks that Lanterns take on, in the name of protecting the innocent. Once a Lantern, nothing else comes first— not even family. However, in place of family is honor and loyalty to the Corps. Kilowog has to learn a tough lesson, but emerges as a hardened veteran. Fortunately, he manages to maintain his soft side as well— when he chooses to show it.

Later, waiting on a space station near a sun, Arisia is introduced to Laira, the warrior Lantern. Hal reveals his deep respect for Laira as he relates the tale of her homecoming some time after becoming a Green Lantern. She finds her world in much different shape than when she left it, due to the extreme actions of her father. Her disagreement with her father leads to a battle royale, juxtaposed against images of their time spent together when Laira was a girl. It’s a bitter story that again emphasizes the raw challenges Lanterns may face.

Just before the battle with Krona begins, Arisia hears the tale of the awful Bolphunga, who seeks battle with the most powerful Green Lantern of all, Mogo. This is a tale of obsession, persistence, and ego, with a kicker of a reveal. Mogo may not have much personality to explore, but this story is more about mystery, as well as the character of the antagonist.

Finally, after Arisia encounters some shadow demons, Sinestro tells his own tale— that of his friendship with Abin Sur, Hal Jordan’s predecessor. This particular story shows them in battle with Atrocitus, the Green Lantern killer. At the conclusion of that battle, the two debate the merits of destiny versus luck, before Abin Sur takes Atrocitus back to prison and hears from him a prophecy of death— for himself and the Corps. It’s a chilling future Atrocitus speaks of, but Abin Sur cannot believe it. It is suggested that not long after this, Abin Sur met his own demise, which led to Hal Jordan replacing him. With this set-up, one might guess that a Sinestro Corps War movie may be in the works. We shall see…

The framing sequence closes with the big war against Krona, as more Lanterns fall, and Arisia comes into her own. Early in her Green Lantern career, she has already added to the legend of the Corps.

Quality of the stories is quite uniform, though I did tire a bit of Laira’s story by the time it was over. Otherwise, this is a strong collection of stories that enhance one’s appreciation of what makes the Green Lantern property unique, and more importantly what makes it so strong a concept. If I didn’t quite love this film, it’s probably only because I don’t favor such a strong emphasis on the military aspects of the Corps, nor the preoccupation with death. Frequently we get reminded that Corps members die in the line of duty, to be replaced by more soldiers in the war against evil. This is what ultimately turned me off of the current Green Lantern comics, which in recent times evolved into a huge storyline that essentially featured zombies. Despite this, I do love the mythology of Green Lantern, and some of the current concepts being developed are quite fascinating, which is reflected well in this series of stories. This is a strong film that presents the main character’s concept in a powerful way, with a selection of interesting stories that should entertain as well as they inform.

Is This Thing Loaded?

This proves to be one of the better entries in the DC Universe line of movies in terms of extras. Naturally, the disc opens with a trailer for the Green Lantern film (2:33), though unfortunately it is the only extra on here that is in only standard definition (though it still looks great). There are also trailers for All Star Superman and the latest Harry Potter Blu-ray release.

Only The Bravest: The Tale Of The Green Lantern Corps (31:50) is one of those odd featurettes that looks at the DC heroes in psychological terms. Here, Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns is joined by a psychology professor, writers of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and others in analysing the topic of bravery and how it applies to the Green Lantern cast. A featurette like this can easily go off the rails, but this one is actually fairly well done, discussing as it does moral bravery versus physical bravery, with analysis of how it applies to the Green Lantern comics.

Why Green Lantern Matters – The Talent Of Geoff Johns (18:11) naturally focuses on what Johns has brought to the comics in recent years. Fellow DC executive Dan DiDio and writer Grant Morrison also add commentary on what Johns has brought to the franchise. The featurette in particular looks at the evolution of the comic book Green Lantern: Rebirth, which brought Hal Jordan back into the role after a several-year absence, and the Blackest Night storyline. Johns likens the Green Lantern comic, at its best, as Lord Of The Rings meets Star Wars, which gives an idea of its potential when in the hands of someone like Johns.

The Commentary by Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio benefits from their experience with the characters, as Johns has written Hal Jordan for years now, and DiDio has been an editor and executive at DC for some years. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights closely reflects the comics, and these two are able to give further background on the original stories and the characters, and provide insight on their strengths. I hadn’t planned to listen to the commentary all the way through, but ended up doing so anyway, as it’s a good track.

Batman: Year One Sneak Peek (10:47) shows off mostly storyboards and no actual animation, but we do hear from the producers, directors and voice actors (Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dukshu, Katee Sackhoff, Alex Rocco), about their respect for the source material. I’m looking forward to this one for sure. The All Star Superman Sneak Peek (10:47) spotlights a film already released at this point, but in case you haven’t seen this featurette yet, it’s a tantalizing look at the movie early in the production process.

Brice Timm’s picks are skimpier this time around. One is only a three-minute clip, and the other a full episode (of a two-parter) from Batman – The Brave And The Bold. They are in hi-def, though, which is a treat.

From Comic Book To Screen: Abin Sur (3:11) and Beautiful But Deadly – From Comic Book To Screen: Laira Omoto (3:52) give further background from the comics on these two characters.

The special features close out with a whimper, with a Virtual Comic Book (just a few pages from the first issue of the current Green Lantern series) and Trailers (just ones for the DCU Application for portable devices, and one for Mattel’s Matty Collector).

Case Study:

The eco keepcase sports a disc on either side of its interior, with a spiffy embossed and shiny slipcover. Two stickers on the slipcover serve to advertise the upcoming live action feature, as well as this release’s status of being a combo pack. The single Blu-ray disc has the movie and everything in terms of features, while the DVD has the movie only, suitable for use in any DVD player, as well as a digital copy for downloading. One paper insert in the case offers the digital copy code, while the other advertises Green Lantern toys that tie into the theatrical film.

Ink And Paint:

The picture for this Blu-ray release is flawless. Despite a lot of furious action and detailed backgrounds that are subjected to numerous pans, the picture remains stable and impressive. Line quality is excellent, with well-defined sharpness and brilliant colors. No artifacts are noticeable.

Scratch Tracks:

Warner Bros. continues their inconsistency with its DC Universe titles, once again reverting to using only Dolby Digital instead of a lossless choice. That doesn’t mean that the sound is bad, of course, but naturally it could be stronger. The sound design on this one is also a mite disappointing, not taking full advantage of what the action-filled scenes suggest. Rears are in only modest use, though bass quality is good.

In addition to English, audio options include French, German, Italian and two versions of Spanish. These choices are duplicated for subtitles. The DVD in this set has only English audio and subtitles.

Final Cut:

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights shows off the potential of the Green Lantern characters and their mythos to great effect. There is no comic book character like Green Lantern, and the breadth of science fiction stories that can be told is unlimited. These stories earn their PG rating with some strong violence and harsh themes, while showing exactly how the Green Lantern Corps functions as a military type of organization, with all that entails in terms of requiring sacrifice and bravery. The emphasis on death is slightly off-putting to me, but it’s a minor criticism of what is a very good effort from Warner Bros. Animation. The video is superb, audio is… well, good but not great, and the extras shine. Recommended for DC Comics fans, and a good bet for most others.

Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?


MAIN FEATURE
SUPPLEMENTS
VIDEO IMAGE
SOUND TRACK
OVERALL DVD


 

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