Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
- Street Date:
- June 7th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Steven Cohen
- Review Date: 1
- June 6th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- Warner Brothers
- 70 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated PG-13
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
With a big budget live action production set to be released in just a few weeks, the beneficial timing of this animated Green Lantern adventure certainly doesn't go unnoticed. That being said, 'Green Lantern: Emerald Knights' is thankfully much more than a mere movie tie in cash grab. Based on the DC Comics characters, and brought to the screen by many of the current creators behind its source material, this original animated film is both lovingly written and visually exciting.
Following the mythos established in the comic, the film focuses on an intergalactic police force that call themselves Green Lanterns. With representatives from species spanning the universe, each Lantern wields a supercharged green ring that is fueled by will power itself, allowing its wearer to construct whatever weapon or tool his mind commands. The main star of the comic and the upcoming live action adaptation is Earth's leading Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. Though a part of this animated production, the filmmakers have decided to go in a slightly surprising but not unwelcomed direction, instead skewing the focus to some more obscure members of the Green Lantern canon (Jordan himself was also already covered in the previously released 'Green Lantern: First Flight' ).
The story is essentially an anthology of shorts that feature flashbacks to several characters' backgrounds. Branching these disconnected plots together, is a present day tale that focuses on a rookie female Lantern. Hal Jordan and others narrate the separate stories to her, serving to transition us to the different episodes which then all lead to an exciting climax in the present.
Being episodic in nature, some of the stories do tend to be stronger than others, but as a whole they all work remarkably well. Highlights include a look at the origin of the Green Lantern Corps itself, a fun boot camp training adventure with an alien Lantern named Kilowog, and a particularly creative story based on an Alan Moore penned issue of the comic. Even the weaker plots have their moments and there's just something wonderfully captivating about the core of the idea. Most of the characters featured were all once reluctant heroes, as the powers they wield were not their own choice. The ring actually picked them, and this aspect of destiny plays powerfully, creating strong moments where the characters finally rise up to the potential that was seen in them. Though simple and certainly not groundbreaking, each segment plays like an action packed parable with a cosmic twist, illuminating what it means to be a hero. Considering the limited time we have to spend with each story, I was surprised by how much I came to care about the characters and how much I became invested in their tales.
Led by 'Firefly' star Nathan Fillion, the cast also includes other notable talent such as 'Mad Men' actress Elisabeth Moss. As expected, the performances are all very strong and each actor brings a distinct and fairly well rounded personality to their characters. The animation style itself is also rather fantastic. Featuring a streamlined but not overly simple approach, character designs resemble a combination of broad American comic book sensibilities and a slightly anime influence. Some subtle use of CG is also present and tends to blend well with the 2D material. Motion is nice and fluid and there are many visually exciting effects and action sequences included throughout that bring an absolutely epic air to the proceedings.
Though mostly successful, there are a few shortcomings to be found. Some of the transitions to the various stories can be a bit jarring and unimaginative and again not every episode is a winner. Also, the main plot which serves as a framing device is mostly unengaging, though it does find its footing in the film's explosive climax.
'Green Lantern: Emerald Knights' is an entertaining and well written adaptation of the Green Lantern mythology. While some might be turned off by the episodic approach, this animated adventure is full of simple but still strong storytelling that should appeal to both young and older viewers alike. Fans of the comic should be pleased by the respectful treatment and those new to the Green Lantern world might want to check this out as a primer for the upcoming Hollywood feature.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Premiere has provided 'Green Lantern: Emerald Knights' in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Housed in a standard case with a cardboard slipcover, the BD-50 Blu-ray disc sits alongside a DVD that includes a digital copy.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The film is presented with a 1080p/AVC transfer in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio and the results are rather good with only some minor technical flaws.
Detail is nice and sharp but somewhat limited by the sleek style of the animation chosen. Colors are wonderfully rich and vibrant and constantly pop off the screen. Contrast is great and black levels are nice and inky. On the downside, some very minor aliasing is faintly visible in a scene or two. Of a bit more concern, however, is some banding evident throughout. While clearly visible at times and certainly not ideal, I didn't find it to detract much from the presentation.
Even with some minor technical faults, the video transfer is strong and the final climax of the movie is a great display of the animation's strengths, showcasing some cool effects and detail work as an army of Lanterns square off against a giant threat.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
'Green Lantern: Emerald Knights' is provided with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track along with French, German, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and Spanish and Castilian Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, with several subtitle options including English SDH, French and Spanish.
Like the video, the audio work is well done. Dialogue is clean and full and the sound effects are all creative and varied, bouncing around the soundscape with a sharp and pleasing fidelity. Directionality is lively and exciting with some decent surround usage that creates a suitably immersive experience. Dynamic range is strong though not terribly wide and bass does have some welcomed kick in the numerous action sequences. Balance between all the elements is well handled never sacrificing speech for explosions.
While not as powerful or intricate as its big budget live action peers, the soundtrack here is very solid.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Sneak Peak at Batman: Year One (HD, 11 min) - This is a behind the scenes look at DC Animation's latest project, an adaptation of Frank Miller's celebrated take on Batman's origin. Though no actual finished animation is shown, we are treated to some character designs, storyboards, and interviews with the filmmakers and cast, which includes Bryan Cranston, Eliza Dushku, and Katee Sackhoff. Considering the source material and the talent involved, this is definitely a project to look out for.
- Sneak Peak at All-Star Superman (HD, 11 min) - Presented in 1080i, this is a similar look at the already released 'All-Star Superman' animated feature. Panels from the comic, storyboards, and interviews with the filmmakers and cast are included.
- Trailers - Two useless trailers for a DCU Application and Matty Collector.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
Warner Premiere has provided a nice collection of Blu-ray exclusive supplements including some featurettes, a commentary, and virtual comic. All of the extras are presented in 1080p with Dolby Digital stereo tracks and the same subtitle options as the feature, unless otherwise noted.
- Filmmaker Commentary with Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio - DC Comics Chief Creative Officer (and notable Green Lantern scribe) Geoff Johns is joined by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio for this commentary track. The two spend most of the time talking about the actual comic book, touching on the history of the character and some of the major events done in recent years. They also detail how several issues from the comic were adapted to screen. While the pairs' passion for the characters is palpable and they both seem quite knowledgeable, there isn't a great deal of information to be gleamed from this.
- Only The Bravest: Tales of The Green Lantern Corps (HD, 32 min) - This is a decent examination of the Green Lantern mythology with an emphasis on bravery. Many creators involved with the comic including Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio as well as other authors, professors, and psychologists are interviewed providing their own insights into the comic's examination of overcoming fear. Most of the talk focused on the actual source material is good, but some of the broader parallels drawn to society and history can come across as a little pretentious and unnecessary.
- Why Green Lantern Matters: The Talent of Geoff Johns (HD, 18 min) - This is a pretty interesting and comprehensive look at the history of the character in comics and features more interviews with Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, and other creators. Lots of artwork and panels from the books are showcased with an emphasis on the events which brought Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps back as main aspects of the title.
- Bruce Timm's Picks (HD) - In a nice little bonus an actual full episode of the animated series 'Batman: The Brave and The Bold' is included. Titled 'Revenge of The Reach' (23 min) the story features the Green Lantern Corps teaming up with Batman and the Blue Beatle to fight off an evil enemy known as The Reach. In addition there is a short excerpt from another episode titled 'The Siege of Starro!, Part 1' (3 min). Though more geared toward children, the stories are solid and the animation style is wonderfully vibrant with a fun retro feel.
- Green Lantern Virtual Comic (HD) - The first ten pages of a Green Lantern issue titled 'Airborne' are included as a slideshow.
- From Comics to Screen: Abin Sur (HD, 3 min) - A detailed look at the history of the character who paved the way for Hal Jordan, told through narration, sound effects, and select panels and artwork from the comics.
- Beautiful… But Deadly - From Comics to Screen: Laira Omoto (HD, 4 min) - Like the previous feature, a detailed look at the history of the character through narration and select panels from the comics.
'Green Lantern: Emerald Knights' is a wonderful collection of cosmic parables that demonstrate what it really means to be a hero. The video and audio are both strong and supplements are pretty good. Those looking for a good introduction to these characters before the live action blockbuster hits screens, should definitely consider giving this a rent. Fans should be happy. Recommended.
- Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English DTS-HD MA 5.1
- French Dolby Digital 5.1
- German Dolby Digital 5.1
- Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
- Castilian Dolby Digital 2.0
- English SDH
- Sneak Peaks
Exclusive HD Content
- Filmmaker Commentary with Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio
- Why Green Lantern Matters: The Talent of Geoff Johns
- Only The Bravest: Tales of The Green Lantern Corps
- Bruce Timm's Picks
- Green Lantern Virtual Comic
- From Comics to Screen: Abin Sur
- Beautiful… But Deadly - From Comics to Screen: Laira Omoto
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