Hal Jordan is getting a lot of attention lately. A few years back writer Geoff Johns resurrected the character and refueled the Green Lantern line with the popularity needed for a big, splashy, summer blockbuster of a movie. Which, if you haven’t heard, is totally happening. Green Lantern hits screens on June 17th and in a turn of brilliant marketing Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment have released an animated film about the Green Lantern Corps.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is the 11th film in the line of DC Animated features and like, Batman: Gotham Knight before it, this is an anthology, featuring six interweaving tales from the Green Lantern Corps. A surprising but completely welcomed choice. I feared this movie would be another Jordan adventure in a tie-in or lead up to this summer’s film. Emerald Knights is really a tale about the Corps, and the different Lanterns who comprise it.
A looming threat is on the horizon for the Corps and their leaders, the Guardians of the Universe. Krona, once banished to the anti-matter universe is breaking back into our univserse with plans of revenge on the Guardians, the Corps, and basically the entire planet of Oa. All Lanterns are ordered back to Oa to recharge their rings before the planet is evacuated for the impending battle. While in line for the power battery, yes they seriously all have to wait in line as each Lantern says the oath and recharges, it’s unintentionally hilarious. But anyway, while in line Hal Jordan shares tales of the Corps with his young recruit, Arisia. He tell hers the tale of the first Lantern, Avra and a story about his friend and comrade, Kilowog.
As the refueled Lanterns continue on to the front lines Jordan also shares tales of Mogo, the Green Lantern who just so happens to be an entire planet and the mysterious, Laira. Laira’s tale was definitely my favorite. The warrior daughter from a corrupt ruling family who, as a Lantern, must go back to her home world and confront her father for atrocities against the population. Full of action and family angst, Laira’s story cements her as a complete badass and powerful Green Lantern. But it’s not without tragedy. Really a strong story, and, shockingly, about a woman! Who knew DC had it in them. Now if we could only get another animated feature focusing on a female hero (or villain). The one and only was Wonder Woman back in 2009.
The last of the Green Lantern tales of yester-year is Sinestro telling Arisia about his good friend, the late Abin Sur. Most are familiar with the purple alien as the one who gifted his ring to Hal Jordan, but Abin Sur was a great Lantern and friend to Sinestro years before. The tale is haunting as it heavily foreshadows events to come, like Abin Sur’s death at the hands of Atrocitus and Sinestr’os eventual betrayal of the Corps.
The final tale is the battle and defeat of Kronos and it’s a great, big brawl showcasing tons and tons of Lanterns. If this summer’s flick is half as exciting as this final battle then DC’s got themselves another bankable character. Emerald Knights is a great introduction to anyone whose been even the slightest bit interested in the Green Lanter Corps. And because it really isn’t a Jordan centric story at all it works as a good setup to the summer movie without spoiling the origin story that movie focuses on. Of course, if you want to learn that origin story before the movie anyway, you can check out Green Lantern: First Flight.
As with many of the DC Animated features this one has an excellent voice cast. Nathan Fillion plays the role hundred of fans wish he had beat out Ryan Reynolds for, Hal Jordan. Since Jordan plays narrator for much of this movie you’ll hear Fillion quite a bit even if his character’s role is minor. Jason Issaacs is chilling as Sinestro and Elizabeth Moss is great as the naive yet brave, Arisia. Unfortunately, I was a little uimpressed with Henry Rollins‘ Kilowog. It’s probably less to do with his performance and more to do with how awesome Michael Clarke Duncan sounds in all the trailers and clips for the big screen movie. The other stand out is Kelly Hu as Laira, for many of the same reasons I love her story. She brings a fierceness to the character, with a touch of sadness.
The special features are good but not as good as what I’ve come to expect from the DC Animated films. There are two good documentary segments on who Hal Jordan is and what is means to be a Green Lantern, includings lots of talk time with the architect of the Lantern books, Geoff Johns. These are obviously focused are getting you excited for the movie. As usual they include two of Bruce Timm’s picks, two extra episodes from another series in the DC Animated Universe. These two are from Batman: Brave and the Bold, and while I love the show I think a choice of an episode from Justice League would have been more fitting. One featuring John Stewart, the character lots of young fans associate with Green Lantern due to that series.
Overall, you’re going to be pleased with Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. It’s one of the strongest DC Animated films. And it’s done it’s job right, I’m more excited about the upcoming movie starring Ryan Reynolds because of it. I’m also more intrigued by the whole Green Lantern line and might even considering adding a few to my pull list once all this Flashpoint crazyness cools off.