EDITOR'S NOTE: About a month ago, Nick was able to see this film when it premiered in Europe at Kapow Comic Con. While this still does not release until June 7, we want to start building hype for this film, the live action film and Green Lantern in general. Do be warned though, that the review does contain minor spoilers.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is the latest offering from Warner Brothers Animation Studios and follows a string of popular and successful recent movies featuring other heroes such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. This film will be released in anticipation of this summers live-action Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds, as Warner Brothers do their best to get the previously overlooked character to the forefront of everyone's attention this summer. For those of you out there unfamiliar with the Green Lantern I advise you to watch the previous animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight for an origin story of the hero of the piece, Hal Jordan.
This newest offering involves Hal (Nathan Fillion) and his new apprentice Arisia (Elisabeth Moss) who along with the rest of the Green Lantern Corps are preparing for an attack by a mighty and ancient enemy. During the preparations for this attack we are taken through five other stories which are weaved into the narrative. These are told by Hal and his comrades to Arisia to teach her in the ways of being a part of their organization.
First, we are told the story of how the Green Lantern Corps came to be, the first warriors and how they used their mysterious power rings to start a revolution and develop the concept of the Lanterns. This involved an exciting and cinematic space battle and definitely gets you in the mood for what's to come. This was a great start for newbies and an easy way to learn what these heroes are capable of and understand the tone of the film. If you don't like that first story then this is definitely not the movie for you.
Then we moved into the best story of the bunch, a look at one of the tough members of the corps, Kilowog (Henry Rollins), being put through his paces by an incredibly mean drill instructor, Deegan (Wade Williams). This was a great introduction to one of the most beloved characters of the Green Lantern universe and was an interesting role reversal for the character of Kilowog. This story was quite an exceptional one that I particularly enjoyed, showcasing the leadership and admirable qualities of the character.
This was followed by a rather disappointing story involving a character called Laira and her return to her home planet to confront her family. This seemed to require some prior knowledge that I wasn't aware of and I was a little lost. The characters weren't compelling and I wasn't sure of what was at stake. It just confused me, however the action sequences were some of the best animated fights I've seen.
Next was a rather amusing story involving the Green Lantern Mogo. It was very intriguing and if you are unaware of who Mogo is, it will make it all the better. Make sure no-one tells you. I really enjoyed this one and was very surprised with the conclusion of the story.
Finally, we got to have an in depth look at two major characters in Green Lantern lore, Abin Sur (Arnold Vosloo) and Sinestro (Jason Isaacs). This was a great character piece analyzing two friends with different ideals on the future and how to police the galaxy. Plus we get to see a glimpse of the future, and here's a hint. Did no-one think that a guy called Sinestro might have a few evil thoughts in his head? This story helped me get to know two very complex and diverse characters extensively and I'd love to see some more adventures involving these guys.
So whilst we are told these stories the main plot involving Hal and the lantern's is bubbling along nicely, I thought the structure of the narrative worked well apart from the fact that whenever we met a new lantern who approached Arisia we knew that they were going to tell us a tale from their past. This became a little predictable and simplistic by the end.
The voice cast was excellent and nearly fitted all round. Fillion and Moss worked well together with Moss in particular managing to show her characters nervousness and fragility amongst such heroes but also showing her ingenuity and bravery when called upon. Issacs and Vosloo had some excellent chemistry together and were well cast. Kilowog was not exactly what I imagined, his tone of voice was a little gentle but it was an admirable performance. To top it off Wade Williams, a personal favorite of mine, stepped in for the excellent role of the brutal drill sergeant Deegan and brought him alive.
The animation looked excellent, it contained a similar tone to the recent DC movies, but when combined with the sci-fi aspect it worked to great effect. In animation form this style of storytelling can thrive, let's hope the live-action film will be as lucky.
So it's a good jumping on point and an improvement on the First Flight film, which I feel set out to achieve far too much. Here we got five short films addressing a particular character and got to learn much more about the nature of the corps and its characters. The film was much better paced and a better film overall. It's managed to spark my interest in this world and get me excited in the big summer move, which I'm sure is what the producers set out to do. Mission accomplished.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights:
Reviewed by Nick Wheatley