Judge Paul Pritchard's ring may not grant him superpowers, but it does have a whistle.
In brightest day, in blackest night,
"Red Lantern! What the gnortz is a Red Lantern?"
Facts of the Case
Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Rise of the Red Lanterns sees Hal Jordan and fellow Green Lantern Kilowog battling a ferocious new enemy, the Red Lanterns, who are led by the evil Atrocitus. Spanning the first thirteen episodes of Season One, this two-disc set contains the following episodes:
• "Beware My Power: Part One"—Test pilot Hal Jordan, the first human to become a member of the Green Lantern Corps, is called to the planet Oa—home of the Lanterns—when a number of his fellow Lanterns are killed. Joined by Kilowog, Jordan takes the Corps' latest spaceship, the Interceptor, and heads to the frontier.
• "Beware My Power: Part Two"—Jordan and Kilowog continue their mission, and discover the Red Lanterns, a previously unknown enemy. Meanwhile the Interceptors' AI, Aya, shows aspirations of becoming a Green Lantern.
• "Razer's Edge"—Jordan and Kilowog team up with Razer, a Red Lantern who has become disillusioned with the leadership of Red Lantern Leader Atrocitus.
• "Into the Abyss"—Despite their differences, Jordan, Kilowog, and Razer work together to help a merchant ship in trouble.
• "Heir Apparent"—While searching for other Green Lanterns to join their fight against the Red Lanterns, the crew of the Interceptor land on the planet Betrassus, where Hal is forced to fight for the hand of Queen Iolande, who is facing a challenge to her peaceful rule.
• "Lost Planet"—Hal and his crew discover a Green Lantern ring in search of a worthy owner.
• "Reckoning"—Razer heads to the home world of the Red Lanterns in an attempt to defeat Atrocitus, which allows Hal to better understand his new enemy.
• "Fear Itself"—Hal and Kilowog land on an alien planet and find themselves in the middle of a civil war.
• "In Love and War"—The crew of the Interceptor are rescued by a new Lantern Corps, who are not quite what they seem.
• "Regime Change"—When Hal and Kilowog return to Betrassus, they discover that Iolande's rule has been overthrown by an old enemy.
• "Flight Club"—Hal, Kilowog, Razer, and Aya race to The Lighthouse, when they learn it is the focus of the Red Lanterns' next attack.
• "Invasion"—The Red Lanterns plan is in full swing, leading Hal and Company to prepare for their final battle.
• "Homecoming"—Atrocitus prepares for the end game. Kilowog must single handedly repel the forces of the Red Lanterns, while Hal must travel across the universe to put an end to Atrocitus and Zilius Zox's attempt to kill the Guardians.
Green Lantern fans left jaded by 2011's lackluster live-action Green Lantern movie can take solace in Rise of the Red Lanterns, the latest DC animated series. Unlike the Ryan Reynolds led clunker of a movie, this Bruce Timm-produced show reveals an innate understanding of what makes the character of Hal Jordan tick, and delivers genuine thrills throughout this thirteen-episode set.
What really makes the show stand out is the way it depicts Hal Jordan and his fellow Lanterns. These guys really feel like heroes, and their altruism is made abundantly clear from the start. Being a parent to a youngster who has very recently become a huge Green Lantern fan, I cannot express how much of a relief it is that his hero is seen to have such strong morals. Such nobleness is not reserved exclusively for members of the Green Lantern Corps, however. Aya, who begins the series as the sentient AI of Hal's ship (The Inteceptor), but soon takes a robot body, longs to be a Lantern, having been inspired by the actions of Hal and Kilowog. Her eagerness to learn and prove herself sees her act as something of a conduit through which youngster can experience the show and more easily relate to the events.
Much like DC's Animated Universe, which spawned such favorites as Batman: The Animated Series, Green Lantern: The Animated Series will appeal to fans of superheroes both young and old. This is primarily due to the quality of writing afforded the show, which never feels the need to dumb down. The main story arc is completely engrossing, especially as the threat level is raised beautifully as the series progresses. The fact that the mini-adventures that help flesh out the universe are written with just as much care and attention ensures that the show never slips into a "villain of the week" rut. Indeed, it seems unfair to consider the likes of Episode 5, "Heir Apparent," in which Hal must fight for the hand of a Queen whose peaceful rule is threatened, any less important just because its focus is not on the fight to defeat the Red Lanterns. Rather than a time-filler, such episodes introduce perfectly rounded characters whose presence adds a depth and richness few other shows could hope to match.
As child-friendly as the show is, it features a suitably dark villain in Atrocitus, who leads the Red Lanterns in their mission to destroy the Green Lantern Corps. Though his right-hand man, Zilus Zox, is occasionally used to add a little comic relief, Atrocitus is a menacing warmonger who has no qualms about destroying entire worlds. His final battle with Hal (and I'll stay light on the spoilers) is brutal stuff. However, where Hal and Atrocitus are portrayed in black-and-white terms, the character of Razer is much more conflicted. A Red Lantern seeking redemption for the murder of an entire planet, Razer is arguably the most interesting character, as he teams up with Hal and Kilowog to battle his former colleagues.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series adopts a visual approach that is at once familiar to fans of Timm's other shows (most notably Justice League Unlimited), with characters retaining the minimalist, angular style, and familiar broad shoulders. Yet the move to CGI—which could very easily have cheapened the visuals—actually enhances them. This move to CGI also brings a much greater sense of depth to the image, which benefits the action scenes no end. While it would be true to say that there are times where this visual approach leads to a somewhat sparse-looking picture, such instances are few, and outnumbered greatly by some frankly unbelievable cool moments. Episode 13, "Homecoming," which closes out this set, features a space battle of truly epic proportions, headlined by Kilowog and a ridiculously large gun against an entire armada.
The voice cast is excellent, in particular Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man) as Hal Jordan, bringing the right blend of confidence and humility that sets the character up as a true hero.
The DVD presentation is hard to fault. The standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is razor-sharp, with bright colors that really bring the show to life. There's a nice amount of depth to the image, which really shines during the action scenes. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is crystal clear. It's a shame that the bonus features—or rather the lack of them—let this release down, as all that is included is a digital comic on Disc 2.
As a general rule, I'm against these half-season releases, preferring instead to go for the full-season box sets. However, I'm inclined to make an exception with Green Lantern: Rise of the Red Lanterns. The set is available for a good price online, contains a good number of episodes, and offers superior entertainment.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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