Sometimes, the universe is good to me. Take the night at WonderCon this year when this made its world premier. One of the things that Warner Bros. has done well is their DC Universe animated films. This year’s media storm featuring Hal Jordan and his ring-slinging friends means lots of decent tie-ins, like comics, games, toys and this little number. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is yet another animated anthology film, like Batman: Gotham Knight and Animatrix. This one is different from those, but is it a stronger entry?
Emerald Knights is produced by people behind the Green Lantern theatrical feature, and is coming out the same month. I’m not sure if, like the aforementioned Batman anthology animated film, it’s supposed to be set in the same universe as the film. If it is, it at least doesn’t spoil the film. If not, it’s a great intro for newbies to Hal Jordan’s universe.
In this film, after the brutal death of a Green Lantern near Oa’s sun, the Guardians of the Universe reveal to the Corps that Krona, an ancient cosmic force from the Anti-Matter universe, is trying to break free. With a small army of anti-matter creatures called Shadow Demons at his command, Krona seems ready to destroy Oa, and the Corps. As the Guardians prepare to evacuate the planet, and the Lanterns get ready for a war, Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion) starts to tell his new student Arisia Rrab (Elizabeth Moss) about the various stories of the Green Lantern Corps, and what it means to be one of them.
First off, I have to say that story-wise, this is the best anthology film that Warner and DC have put out. Unlike other entries like Gotham Knight or Animatrix, having the framing story of Krona’s impending attack and Hal telling the rookie Arisia all these stories of the Corps works in this films favor. Like Arisia, we feel the sense of impending doom, and the more we learn about these people who wear the Ring, the more we get that same sense she does that there is a way to save the universe. These segments are also really good just for Nathan Fillion, who plays Hal Jordan as I always imagined he’d sound: funny, but with a level of experience beyond his years, like he’s seen it all and done it all. Elizabeth Moss also manages to convey that insecurity in Arisia, and the growing sense of belonging in this great legacy of heroes.
Of course, any anthology is not just its framing story, but also the sum of its parts. And this is by far the best anthology film I’ve seen. Not once did I see one story that I’d have wanted to skip. Included in this anthology are:
– The story of Avra, the first Green Lantern, who helped save the universe in the beginning, and defined just what a Lantern is, and what one can do with willpower.
– Kilowog’s (played by Henry Rollins) early days as a rookie Lantern, and his conflict with his drill sergeant Deegan (Wade Williams).
– Laira Omoto of Jade (Kelly Hu) must return home to her planet when it’s gone rogue. This sadly means she must face her own family in combat.
– Bolphunga (Rowdy Roddy Piper) wants to be known as the greatest warrior in the galaxy. When he finds out about a Green Lantern known as Mogo who has never been beaten, he goes after him, not realizing that the Corps has members who often are beyond belief.
– Sinestro (Jason Isaacs) and Abin Sur (Arnold Vosloo) must take on an escaped prisoner, and at the same time debate the nature of fate versus chance, especially given their positions as Green Lanterns.
A special note needs to go out to Voice Director Andrea Romano. This woman manages to always find the best voice for each character in every show she does, and as such, all of these voices are amazing. From Jason Isaacs conveying both a class and toughness that Sinestro needs, to Kelly Hu giving Laira both anguish and strength as she faces her past, everyone brings their A-game.
I wish I could tell you how it ends, but that’s no fun. However, I can say that this is one of the most action-packed titles in Warner Bros. video line. And with the Lantern Ring as the ultimate weapon, we get some truly over-the-top fights. The one problem I have with this film is its character designs. The art style is identical to the last Green Lantern animated film, First Flight. This could have been done in a different style just because that film had its own plot and continuity. I mean, they’ve done like 5 different Batmen, they can’t just do the Corps in a different design from the last film? But, at the same time, keeping the same art style throughout the anthology, instead of each story being in some different look, helps keep it feeling like this is one massive universe.
Pretty much, if you want to learn more about the Corps when the film comes out, or are a die-hard fan, I recommend this film when it comes out this summer.
|Great voice acting, great action, consistent art style throughout the anthology, and a good introduction for new fans.||Did we really have to reuse the art style and designs from Green Lantern: First Flight?|