Warner Bros. // 2011 // 84 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // June 19th, 2011
Six Legendary Green Lanterns.
Six Interlocking Stories.
One Groundbreaking Film.
OK, that last one is pushing it a bit.
Krona, an ancient evil banished to an anti-matter universe millennia ago, is about to emerge from Oa's star. As the entire Green Lantern Corps assembles for a final, desperate defense, Green Lanter Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion, Castle) attempts to cheer up new recruit Arisia (Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men) by telling her of the Corps' storied past in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights:
* The First Lantern: The Guardians have made the first four power rings, and have brought together the galaxy's greatest warriors so that the rings may choose their first wielders. To everyone's astonishment, the last ring chooses, Avra, the Guardian's scribe. When Avra and his fellow ring-wielders face certain defeat at the hands of insurmountable forces, his compatriots are ready to retreat. However, Avra looks within himself and reveals why he was chosen -- his ability to overcome his own fear.
This short does a great job of capturing the mythic feel of a legendary tale, not just the initial creation of the rings, but how Avra's determination allowed him to surpass even the Guardian's expectations.
* Kilowog: We see the Corps' top drill sergeant when he was but a raw recruit, facing an equally fierce, yet protective drill sergeant, Deegan. A crisis on a nearby planet forces Deegan to take his raw recruits into battle, and oh for the love of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, you can see how this one is going to play out from the other side of the galaxy. Seriously, there are large chunks of Deegan's dialog that could have been lifted nearly verbatim from Full Metal Jacket.
Giving Kilowog (Henry Rollins, Heat), some time in the spotlight is a nice idea, but this entry is just too predictable for its own good.
* Laira: Laira was a princess on her home world; now, Laira returns to her home world to investigate charges that her planet is attacking other realms without any provocation.
This short has some depth, emphasizing the personal sacrifices a Lantern must make. At the same time, the story gets drastically simplified for the short format.
* Mogo Doesn't Socialize: All of the Lanterns have arrived at Oa -- all of them, that is, but Mogo. Hal explains to Arisia why Mogo isn't the most social of Lanterns by telling her of Bolphunga the Unrelenting, a powerful warrior who seeks out the greatest warriors to face in single combat. He learns that there is no warrior mightier than Mogo. Bolphunga tracks Mogo to a deserted planet, and spends months searching for Mogo, finally planting explosives all over the planet's surface in an attempt to drive Mogo into the open. The plan works, but when Mogo emerges, Bolphunga realizes he's bitten off just a wee bit more than he can chew.
This short, based on a classic story from the comics, is basically a one-trick pony, but it works mainly because of the light comic tone (in that respect, it's also a good contrast to the preceding Laira).
* Abin Sur: Abin Sur, the Lantern who preceded Hal Jordan, faces Atrocitus, a criminal who speaks in dark prophecies. Abin Sur, aided by Sinestro (Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), captures Atrocitus, who attempts to send Abin Sur into despair by predicting Sur's imminent death as well as Sinestro's betrayal of the Guardians.
I am reminded of a quote from Bloom County: "Foreshadowing: Your clue to quality literature." Here, as in Laira, a lot of backstory is sacrificed, so much so that the only thing of value that remains is the prophecy. That's about all this short has going for it -- the knowledge that Atrocitus' vision of the future is much closer to the mark than either Abin Sur or Sinestro realizes.
* Emerald Knights: The time for stories is over, and the Corps sets out to match their assembled will against that of Krona -- at stake, the fate of the entire universe. Sadly, the framing tale is almost as weak as Kilowog; with one notable exception, the story isn't really enhanced by any of the stories that preceded it. That's the movie's main weakness -- the stories don't really "interlock," they just happen to be in the same collection. A secondary weakness is the unevenness of the various shorts. The surprisingly strong The First Lantern is followed by the borderline hackneyed Kilowog. While Laira is a strong story on its own, it's clumsily shoehorned into the larger framework.
As a general rule, I'm not a big stickler for continuity. It didn't bother me that Tim Burton changed Batman's origin so that his parents were killed by Jack Napier instead of Joe Chill, and it didn't bother me that Sam Raimi gave Spider-Man organic web shooters. The changes made sense in terms of storytelling, and that was good enough for me. Still, I don't think it's too much to ask that a movie series maintain its own internal continuity. Yet here we are in the second Green Lantern movie, faced with a howling continuity error, as Sinestro is right there as one of the leaders of the corps, even though he betrayed the corps and was defeated in Green Lantern: First Flight. There's no real reason Sinestro had to be included in the film; he could have easily been replaced with another Lantern. If DC felt that obligated to include him, the obvious implication is either that the second live-action movie will revolve around Sinestro, or they're just really sloppy (which is how they got into the multiverse mess to begin with).
Warner Bros. provides a strong disc technically. Images are sharp and colors are crisp, and the 5.1 surround audio does a good job of immersing you in the battle (my youngest kept looking around the room as explosions came from all directions). The voice acting is good, particularly Jason Isaacs as Sinestro. Nathan Fillion does a good job narrating The First Lantern, but overall, Hal Jordan's role is expositional, and so Fillion never gets a chance to sink into the role. Extras are minimal, with sneak peeks of All-Star Superman and Batman: Year One. It's a shame that they couldn't have included at least one of the Green Lantern-specific extras from the Blu-ray edition.
Not guilty. A moderately entertaining but ultimately shallow endeavor.
Review content copyright © 2011 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Sneak Peeks
* Wikipedia: Green Lantern: Emerald Knights