‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights’ employs the technique of telling us a number of stories all cobbled together to form one coherent story, a story telling device used without much success in DC / Warner’s own ‘Batman: Gotham Knight’, used with arguably even less success with the animated adaption of the videogame Halo, ‘Halo Legends’ and the videogame adaption of Electronic Art’s ‘Dante’s Inferno’ which also had its story telling issues. With that knowledge we can say that our hopes weren’t that high that this technique would actually work for this version of the saga of Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern, but we are happy to say that this version turned out to be a greater success than those others, at least in my opinion, probably due to the consistency of the artwork and the consistency of the story that the filmmakers were telling.
Yesterday, young Airsia (voiced by Elizabeth Moss) was in social studies class on her home planet, but today she’s wearing a semi-inappropriate outfit, sporting a green power ring and is joining her fellow Lanterns to face the most dangerous foe that the Lantern core has ever encountered. Without getting bogged down into all of that, just know that this creature comes from another dimension, it has these little sidekicks that will rip you to shreds, and its ultimate goal is to completely destroy the planet Oa and hopefully wreck the sage Guardians in the process. Helping guide young Airsia through this tribulation is the now veteran Lantern Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion) who does his best to put this newest Lantern at ease by regaling her with tales of Lantern’s past.
For instance, did you know that when the Guardians first began distributing the rings so many eons ago to protect the universe against an unstoppable force, they had no idea what the rings were truly capable of? It took a humble scribe named Avra (Mitchell Whitfield) the first Lantern, and his creative imagination to make the power ring what it has become to this very day.
We all know Kilowog (Henry Rollins), the hardcore Lantern combat instructor, to be a complete hardass, but even Kilowog had to be trained at one point which introduces us to the tale of Deegan (Wade Williams) who makes Kilowog look like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Now we know that Kilowog comes by his sour disposition very honestly.
During the downtime while our heroes patiently wait for the stuff to hit the fan, we meet Laira (Kelly Hu) who has all kinds of mystical abilities in addition to her Lantern skills. Hal informs Airsia that Laira was a warrior princess on her home world before becoming a Lantern, forced with the ultimate conflict of siding with her beloved father in an unjust war, or honoring her pledge as a Lantern protector of the sector. Since the ring chose her, we know what side she aligned herself with.
Sinestro (Jason Isaacs) gets into the story telling act, informing Airsia about his good friend, the late Abin Sur (Arnold Vosloo) and their battle with a particularly daunting intergalactic criminal, and this criminals completely ridiculous prophecy having something to do with Sinestro turning against his Lantern colleagues and bringing the corps to total ruin. Ridiculous. Despite the fact his name is Sinestro and he has red skin and pointy ears and a needle mustache. Not that we’re profiling or anything.
Finally, before the real party starts, Hal explains to Airsia the anti-social behavior of the Lantern Mogo, the one Lantern who hasn’t joined in for this ultimate showdown, by telling her the story of a brutal warrior (Roddy Piper) and his relentless pursuit to be the Baddest Man in the Universe. He was doing pretty good too, that is until he actually met Mogo.
Then everything hits the fan, the oppressive force makes his presence known, many a ring will flying across the universe looking for new recruits to take on the challenge, and our brand new Lantern will find a way to change the tide of this seemingly unwinnable battle by using what she learned in Social Studies. Clearly, Social Studies on Airsia’s planet are on another level.
As we mentioned earlier, the vignette’s here work better than those other animated features we spoke of, if for no other reason that the animation from tale to tale was the same which did form a sense of continuity which you really don’t get from having six different artists render six different stories. I still prefer one contiguous tale, as opposed to what we got with ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights’, but it was still entertaining.
I probably enjoyed Sinestro’s story the most, mainly due to the well written dialog and the solid voice acting provided by Jason Isaacs and Arnold Vosloo, even though this story, and Sinestro’s appearance overall completely clashes philosophically with the previous Green Lantern animated movie ‘First Flight’. Taken at face value, all of the shorts are entertaining at least to some degree, obviously some more than others, but the main story suffers due to this approach. While Some god-like cat the size to two planets and his invincible minions desiring to destroy the universe seems like it’s pretty important, here it feels like a loose thread to justify linking together the various tales and whet your appetite for the mega blockbuster ‘Green Lantern’ feature film that will soon follow.
But as we pointed out earlier, ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights’ is entertaining, the animation is very good, and the voice acting doesn’t get a whole lot better than its presented here. Yet another solid, if not spectacular, entry to the DC / Warner animated film catalogue.