Posted by Don MacPherson on June 9th, 2011
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights direct-to-video animated movie
Writers: Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim, Peter J. Tomasi, Dave Gibbons, Geoff Johns, Alan Burnett, Todd Casey and Eddie Berganza
Voice actors: Nathan Fillion, Jason Isaacs, Elisabeth Moss, Henry Rollins, Arnold Vosloo, Kelly Hu, Michael Jackson, Roddy Piper, James Arnold Taylor, Bruce Thomas, Mitchell Whitfield & Wade Williams.
Directors: Christopher Berkeley, Lauren Montgomery & Jay Oliva,
Producer: Warner Bros. Animation/Warner Premiere Home Video
I haven’t had a chance to get to the cinemas to see Thor (and it doesn’t look like I will at all, since it’s only available here in 3D now). I haven’t had a chance to get there to see X-Men: First Class. So when Green Lantern: Emerald Knights was released on home video this week, I was determined to get a comic-book adaptation fix after many weeks of deprivation. I’m quite looking forward to the live-action GL movie, so I figure this would be a lot of fun as well. To my surprise, I found a number of short comics stories were adapted for a pseudo-anthology video, and unfortunately, the adaptations were a bit lacking. The animation and designs are sharp throughout the direct-to-video movie, so at least it looks good.
The mad Guardian named Krona is making a play for domination of all reality, and he’s trying to emerge from the anti-matter universe of Qward into the positive-matter universe through a portal he’s opening in the sun around which revolves the planet Oa, home of the Guardians of the Universe and their Green Lantern Corps. As the members of the corps prepare for battle, several Lanterns share inspiring stories with the newest member, the young Arisia. She learns of Avra the first Green Lantern, of Abin Sur, of Mogo and others. With such legacies to live up to, she worries she’ll be wanting in the corps’ most challenging hour.
The first thing that struck me about this movie was how incredibly violent and gratuitously violent it can be at times. In the first scene, a character is chopped up… on screen. And this is rated PG? Really? Even when the bloodletting takes place off screen as opposed to overtly, there’s an awful lot of it, even on the part of the heroic Green Lanterns. The notion that heroes don’t kill, that all life is sacred to the Lanterns, isn’t to be found in this movie. Many of these Green Lanterns don’t just patrol, they punish. That’s disappointing.
The animation throughout this movie flows incredibly well, even when the action is at its most frenetic. Two fight scenes in particular — Kilowog versus his trainer, and Laira versus her father — are well choreographed and exciting. If anything, action sequences are too extended. Things get a bit repetitious, and despite the strong slow to the action, one finds oneself looking forward to the moment when the story finally moves forward again. The space-faring scenes certainly give a good sense of the immense, cosmic scope of the core concepts. The only scene that looks too small, unfortunately, is the gathering of the Lanterns before the Guardians early in the movie, in which the main plot is explained to the characters and the audience.
I was most interested in the “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” sequence. The original Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons short story serves as a fond memory, and the way in which it was presented in its original form — as a story told by a senior Green Lantern to Arisia — was a lot like the structure of this movie. So I was surprised that the screenwriter who adapted the story — Gibbons himself — changed so many details. I suppose he was aiming for a more believable way for the villain to discover Mogo’s secret, but I just wish the trees and terrain comprised a design like they did in the original story. As a result, what was once one of the most memorable and entertaining stories of one of the most unusual members of the Green Lantern Corps was transformed into a disappointment. Obviously, the experience could prove to be much different for someone unfamiliar with the source material.
The larger plot running throughout the movie proved to be rather disappointing. Early in the movie, everybody scrambles to preserve and protect Oa, but by the end, a pyrrhic victory doesn’t seem to bother anybody or to be of any concern at all. Krona doesn’t even speak, so one never really gets a clear sense of what’s driving him. He’s a plot device rather than a character. Honestly, there are few characters that really stand out in this movie. The script gives Nathan Fillion little to do as Hal Jordan. I mean, Nathan Fillion as Hal, and he’s… boring? That was a surprise and a disappointment. Kilowog, Arisia, Avra and Laira are fleshed out a bit in their respective storylines, but the more recognizable GL characters seem terribly empty. 5/10
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