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Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Blu-ray Review)

22 Jun, 2011 By: John Latchem

$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray combo pack
Rated ‘PG’ for sci-fi action violence throughout, and for some language.
Voices of Nathan Fillion, Elisabeth Moss, Henry Rollins, Jason Isaacs, Roddy Piper, Arnold Vosloo, Kelly Hu, Wade Williams, Michael Jackson.

As fallout from the recent live-action movie shows, the concept of Green Lantern may be a little dense for audiences to fully embrace. The idea of an intergalactic police force using magic rings to enforce the peace seems a bit silly on its surface. While this might prove problematic for a series of standalone mainstream movies, it’s ideally suited for comic books, animated series and the occasional animated movie directly aimed at fans of the characters.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights seems like it was designed as a primer for the Green Lantern mythology to aid viewers in better understanding the new movie. The film is an anthology of six semi-interconnected stories and follows in the footsteps of two previous DC Universe animated movies.

The anthology format was used before in Batman: Gotham Knight, which came out in 2008 as a lead-in to The Dark Knight. And the story of Hal Jordan becoming a Green Lantern was the subject of 2009’s Green Lantern: First Flight, which may be the best of the DC Universe animated movies. Emerald Knights falls somewhere in between, more interesting that Gotham Knight but not as focused as First Flight, while hugely entertaining for GL fans.

Emerald Knights is not a true sequel to First Flight, but shares a visual style while employing a different voice cast.

The headliner this time around is Nathan Fillion, who now shines on “Castle” but once was a regular on “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” alongside Ryan Reynolds, who plays Green Lantern in the new live-action adaptation of the comic. How’s that for synergy? (In a further bit of coincidence, Fillion, who starred on Joss Whedon’s Firefly, also follows in the footsteps of another Whedon alum, David Boreanaz, who starred on “Angel” and voiced Green Lantern in Justice League: New Frontier.)

As Hal Jordan, Fillion is not as dynamic as he was voicing Steve Trevor in the animated Wonder Woman movie. Relegated mostly to narrator, Hal bides the time awaiting a huge battle by recounting the history of the Green Lantern Corps to the latest recruit, Arisia (Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men”).

Segments include the story of the first Green Lantern and the origin of the Corps; an adventure with Abin Sur (Arnold Vosloo), the Green Lantern who passes his ring to Hal; and a fun visit to a living planet that is itself a member of the Corps, defending itself from a marauder voiced by wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

The movie was scripted by various writers from the Green Lantern comics, most notably Geoff Johns, who resurrected the character in 2005. Johns even gets his own featurette, “Why Green Lantern Matters: The Talent of Geoff Johns,” and appears alongside other comic book writers to discuss the history of the Green Lantern in the featurette “Only the Bravest: Tales of the Green Lantern Corps.”

In these featurettes and a commentary with Johns (who serves as DC Comics’ chief creative officer) and DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, the participants express much enthusiasm for the greater mythology of Green Lantern as a “Lord of the Rings” meets “Star Wars” type of sci-fi/fantasy adventure.

There also are two brief character profiles, “From Comic Book to Screen: Abin Sur” and “Beautiful … But Deadly — From Comic Book to Screen: Laira Dmoto,” and a few pages of a virtual comic book that serves as a teaser for “Green Lantern” graphic novels.

The Blu-ray also includes a sneak peek of the upcoming Batman: Year One animated adaptation, and two Green Lantern-themed episodes from “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

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