When you shape the light of your ring, you walk in the footsteps of the first Lantern.
Lanterns: Nathan Fillion (pjwolsker's favorite actor), Elizabeth Moss, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Hu, Henry Rollins, Roddy Piper (Bolphunga!), Wade Williams, Arnold Vosloo
To those of you wanting to get more familiar with Green Lantern's mythos right before the live action film is released next week, this is essential viewing. You can pretty much skip watching First Flight, since the live action will cover Hal Jordan's origin, but Emerald Knights gives you good background on all the 'other' Lanterns, and the meaning behind the rings, constructs they can produce, and what it means to be a Green Lantern in the first place.
Though Emerald Knights isn't exactly accurate to the comics I've read, it's close enough to get it's points across. Instead of Lantern Ermey, who was Kilowog's drill instructor in Tales of the Corps, we've got Lantern Deegan, who is essentially the same character. I'm not sure why the name change, but it's fairly inconsequential. Just little changes of that nature. If one never picked up a GL comic in their life, these changes would make no matter to them anyways, but as a comic book reader myself, as I know a few others are on this site, I just wanted to give that fair warning.
While I'm normally more of a fan of one, movie length story compared to a bunch of anthology short stories, Knights manages to smoothly transition between a rookie Lantern Arisia and Hal Jordan, who regales her with legends of the Corps and it's more famous ring slingers, with what I felt the stand out story belonging to Lantern Laira. Having already read Kilowog's, Sinestro's, Abin Sur's origins, those didn't intrigue me as much as learning about Laira's obviously Japanese influenced alien culture. The stand out battle in the film has to be between Laira and her misguided father, and probably because a good deal of it takes place without ring slinging of any sort, just old fashioned martial arts beat downs. Mogo, who if you're not familiar with I won't ruin who 'he' is, would have the follow up place with his "altercation" with the warrior Bolphunga The Relentless. It at least got the biggest laughs from me. I'll refrain from describing the final segment of the film and leave that as a surprise, but I will say this: you will be intensely satisfied with the climax.
But like First Flight, I had the same minor complaint about the sound in Emerald Knights. It doesn't sound as crisp as some of the other DC Animated movies for an odd reason. I dunno if this was due to it not being made for 7.1 surround sound or what (it's 5.1), but it sounded rough to me. You'll notice this when the Lanterns fire their rings and listening to the space battles on your surround sound system (if you have one). I also felt the actor chosen to voice Sinestro (Jason Isaacs) seemed a little weak for such an egotistical character. I was excited initially about him voicing Sinestro, and that may have been partly due to being used to being able to see Isaac's naturally villainous face, but when you're hearing just his voice, it seemed to lose a lot of impact for me. Others may disagree on that point, but it's how I felt.
What is great about Emerald Knights, however, is the animation is mostly hand drawn, so it has that old school feel throughout, and only slightly enhanced with CGI for smoothness. I think I'll always be a fan of hand drawn versus complete CGI, at least for the foreseeable future until that technology improves. I loves me some old school cartoons (insert cheesy grin).
Much kudos to the rest of the voice cast, as well; Nathan Fillion makes for a perfect Hal Jordan (even wore a GL T-shirt during his recording sessions. That's how f*cking cool he is. Right, pjwolsker?), Moss made for a tolerable Arisia, and Rollins gave a distinctly different take on Kilowog (I think I've grown used to baritone voiced actors voicing him), that I quickly warmed up to. Kelly Hu was of course a natural Laira. Overall, besides Isaacs, this was a pretty great crew they picked out to give the Corps a voice.
That about sums this anthology feature up, folks. Rent it, buy it, steal your friend's copy, but do yourself a favor and see this before Warner Bro/DC's silver screen adaptation happens upon us in the very near future so that you can get on board and dork it up with the rest of us! (thedude-abides knows he wants to, deep down).
P.S.- To all of you comic readers, watch for the brief comments to events from the comic books. Something about a 'blackest night' or other.... :P And to ejk1: keep an eye out for a favorite 'red' guy.
Final Grade: A-
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