Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (UK - BD)
With the live action movie on the horizon, Marcus goes green on Blu with the DCU
Well it took a good few years but the UK finally get a DCU release in the same week of release as the US and it's available everywhere without it being a single store exclusive. Also as an added bonus it’s about half the price of the US counterpart and includes all the extras. In fact the only thing that's different is that it's the UK thicker box and has no shiny outer slip case as the previous US releases have had (for anyone out there thinking about how going UK might affect the look of their collection).
The Green Lantern Corps are evacuating Oa because of a universal threat preparing to attack. Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion) is keeping a close eye on new recruit Arisia (Elisabeth Moss) and while trying to ease her mind recounts stories of other Green Lanterns and their adventures.
Essentially this new DCU animated movie is a collection of short stories. Six in fact, including the main thread which we bounce in and out of. What we get are stories that flesh out the Green Lantern mythology, beginning with the story of the first Green Lantern or more specifically the first Green Lantern to form a construct, which is quite loose but has quite a meaningful ending for any Lantern fans.
Second up is fan-favourite Kilowog in a story about his first day of boot camp, which again was fairly routine but had a strong ending. The pattern continues with the tale of Laira Omoto on her first mission which shows her confrontation with her father and once again has a satisfying ending despite the pretty dull slog to get there.
Yeah, so at this point I’m thinking all of these shorts should have been just that. Shorts featured on other DCU releases as opposed to one long Lantern DTV with a slightly higher production value like the Jonah Hex and The Spectre DC Showcases like on previous releases. Anyway the next tale of Mogo (the living planet lantern) is a much better story and almost a fable in its construction. The art style gets a refreshing change of pace with more hand drawn backgrounds and this one really put a smile on my face and felt like something different.
Last up for the short stories was about Abin Sur and it’s essentially a discussion with Sinestro about destiny and how their views on the subject differ. This is probably the most poignant of the shorts and features a lot about the Green Lantern mythology and how the two characters see the whole lantern thing differently.
So with all that character development established most of the players come into play for the last epic space battle and most of the small elements discussed in the shorts come back to feature here. What newbie Arisia brings to the Corps, How Killowog’s never give up attitude helps in a fight and Laira’s honourable nod to the newcomer showing her respect. It’s all a satisfying wrap up but I can’t really say I was a massive fan of this new DCU DTV release. It’s okay and has its highlights but on a personal note I’ve never been a big fan of the larger Corps. in their own solo stories and I have to say I missed Hal Jordan’s presence at the centre of the story (mainly because I love the character of Hal Jordan more than I like the larger scale Green Lantern arena). I suppose I mustn’t grumble too much because the fact this is aimed more at fans as opposed to newcomers is the sort of thing I campaign for, but this release has only highlighted something in my mind. Despite liking the majority of these DCU movies I’m still awaiting one to really blow me away.
Big bright, beautiful and chock full of colour (though largely variations on green of course), this transfer is another strikingly great HD experience and with the glowing ring powers en-masse, it really feels like something a little extra special.
Also as a treat we get different art style for one of the segments. The Mogo part drops the clean line art backgrounds of the usual DCU fare and goes for a more hand drawn affair with a combination of pencil and felt tip style colouring all adding up to a noticeably different feel for DCU. It works wonders for the natural elements of the short story and it's good to see the DCU trying new things on these feature length canvases.
As usual everything looks bold and the various colours against the black backdrop of the space battles have dazzling results. There’s the odd bit of banding in the larger areas of colour but nothing takes away from another 2D spectacular that these productions provide.
I’ll start with the weak point and it’s a pretty major annoyance. Despite fiddling with my settings I just couldn’t get happy with the Hal Jordan voice over on the short stories. They have an echo effect to them and it makes the narration feel really floaty and its weakness on the track really takes away from the storytelling. Luckily they’re not a massive part of what makes the segments work but each time they returned their weakness annoyed me.
Other than that everything is strong despite never competing with big budget sci-fi adventures. The battles are full of bass and wide feeling sound effects, the segment with Laira has some great rear surround tricks with her brother taunting her and the large space battle finale feels suitably epic without having many subtle moments a bigger budget might bring. It’s all big booms and bangs and swoops and everything is punchy and effective making this one of the stronger DCU tracks.
When the discs boots up we get a trailer for the Green Lantern live action movie (in standard def—pretty stupid right?) An HD trailer for All Star Superman and a trailer for Harry Potter and
Going into the extras I started with the commentary track with Geoff Johns and Dan Didio. The track is more about Green Lantern the character/mythology than it is specifically this movie. They rattle on about Green Lantern: Rebirth like they always do (and continue to do so on the other extras) and generally this is them patting each other's backs for "redefining" Hal Jordan over the last five years. It's a good track for fans of the comics but combining this track with the other extras is a little repetitive.
Next up is 'Only The Bravest: The Tale of the Green Lantern Corps' (31:51 HD) is a good look at the Green Lantern mythology, which ties into classic tales of bravery in popular culture as well as a look as the psychology of bravery and what overcoming fear is all about. It’s the usual good DCU stuff mixing comic book telling with mythology and how these stories represent our own lives.
‘Why Green Lantern Matters: The Talent of Geoff Johns’ (18:11 HD) has a look at the rebirth story of Green Lantern in stories and what Johns was aiming for when rebooting the character after his fall and switch over to the dark side in the wake of the Return of Superman story back in the nineties. I’ve said it before but I felt the whole yellow entity of Parallax was one of the biggest cop outs to a genuinely interesting look at a hero gone extremely bad due to a devastating situation (his entire city was destroyed and all its inhabitants and the blue dudes on Oa wouldn’t help. Hal went mental with grief, tried to reset time and genuinely became a threat to the entire DC universe amongst other things–in case you didn't know) but considering how strong the title is now, it was a means to an end I guess and its better than simply rebooting the entire line to get out of a corner...which DC seems to be doing with its entire line come September. Whether that’s brave or insane remains to be seen I guess.
The eleven minute preview of Batman: Year One, the next DCU title has me genuinely intrigued. There’s lots of talk of how it’s a word for word adaption and the art style has been copied as closely as they can. It looks like it could be something special, even with Brian MacKenzie from the O.C. voicing Batman.
Also included is the ‘All Star Superman Sneak Peak’ (10:47 HD) as well as an excerpt form a Green Lantern featured Batman: Brave and the Bold episode (02:38 HD) and an entire Brave and the Bold episode ‘Revenge of the Reach’ (22:58 HD).
Adding to the lesson in all things Green Lantern we get ‘From Comic Book to Screen: Abin Sur’ (03:11 HD) and ‘Beautiful but Deadly from Comic Book to Screen: Laira Omoto (03:52 HD), which has a closer look at the history of the two characters.
The ‘Virtual Comic Book’ of John’s Green Lantern #1, which is pretty to look at but has no zoom function, so it’s not the easiest of reads and lastly there are trailers for the DC app for digital comics and a quick ad for ‘Matty Collector’ the website for Mattel collectables. Oh and of course as this is a 'Double Play' edition it has a DVD copy included as well.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights feels a little like a filler title to promote (or prepare a new audience for) the large sci-fi scale we’ve seen hinted at in the live action movie trailers and it is much more akin to the Marvel animated titles out there such as Hulk and Thor. The battles are all there but the emotional connection isn’t, well at least it wasn’t for me. The disc looks and sounds great, there’s a good selection of features and the UK release's low price point was a welcome surprise, so all in all it’s another good DCU release, I’m just getting impatient waiting for a truly great one to arrive. Come on Batman Year One you can do it and with rumours that The Dark Knight Returns is on the horizon too, the DCU animated line may just be about to take it up a notch.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 6th June 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian,
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German
Extras: Documenary, Featurettes, Trailers, Commentary, Sneak Peeks.
Easter Egg: No
Director: Christopher Berkley, Lauren Montgomery, Jay Oliva
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Jason Isaacs
Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Length: 84 minutes
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