Been a lot of Green lantern activity during the short life of this here blog. I certainly featured the trailers for the movie enough times. Add to that the reviews of said movie and the First Flight animated film. If you read the title for this page and didn’t just randomly click on some link that led you here you’d see that I’m not done with everyone’s interstellar space cop just yet. Hell I could drag out my copy of Justice League New Frontier and get even more Green Lantern action but for now I think I’ll settle for a while with the review for Green Lantern Emerald Knights.
Green Lantern Emerald Knights is presented as a series of short stories all, supposedly interwoven into one larger story. I say supposedly because it is not. The stories are all unrelated to the events they are framed within and only one of them, in this case an adaptation of Alan Moore’s Mogo Don’t Socialise, has any sort of tie to the final moments of the film. Even that tie is basically so you don’t question who the giant planet thing is. One tells the story of a Green lantern that is present at the battle but it has no impact on the events. Basically the gist of the story is this. There’s some super bad evil made of anti-matter coming from the star at the centre of the universe which is right near GL HQ planet Oa. Hal Jordan has a new recruit he’s training but rather than teach her anything useful before she gets taken into a potentially fatal mission he instead tells her a few stories. It s these stories that make up the bulk of the film.
Now I’m not against a episodic format for a film. It’s worked many a time, Twilight Zone The Movie, Sin City and Pulp Fiction are all framed around such a format and it works well. What makes an episodic format work is when the stories all tie together into the whole and allow you to understand why events that happen at the end, or in some cases the middle, are able to happen. As Jean-Luc Godard said “All stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order”. That is one of the freedoms of episodic storytelling. The other approach is to just get on with the stories and have them be their own thing with no larger story framed around them. That is how The Twilight Zone The Movie worked, as did Tales From The Crypt. Sin City is an odd one in that the stories are not linked towards a final goal but the characters appear in multiple arcs and you learn a little about the why, where, who and how of them in their appearances. Emerald Knights though has the overarching story with smaller stories inbetween and because those smaller stories have no impact on the larger story they feel, ultimately, pointless.
What would have made for a better presentation, I feel, would have been an approach similar to that of Batman Gotham Knights or The Animatrix. It means what you’re left with is 5 short stories and then this random finale that has no real build and a conclusion that come without any strands of information to lead the character to figure out what must be done. The other approach would have been to have made each of the short stories provide clues for Hals rookie to have used to solve how to beat the villain they’re up against. That would require each of the side characters telling her a story themselves so as to avoid the viewer questioning why Hal or Sinestro, the two that tell her these stories, couldn’t have figured them out.
that’s not to say the short stories aren’t good. they’re all based on issues and story arcs from various old Green Lantern comics. It is also pretty cool to see Mogo Don’t Socialise getting some love. Alan Moore didn’t write a massive amount of Green Lantern stories but the ones he did are all classics. Green Lantern is at it’s best, in my opinion, when it’s a tale of some bizarre conceptual sci-fi alien world with a nice either moral or comical sting in it’s tale. In that sense these short stories are very much what I consider the core of the Green Lantern comics. It’s telling that the weakest part is the final battle which is just a series of powers being used and a nearly grabbed out of thin air solution to the threat at hand.
There’s quite a cast of actors filling out the voice roles in this including every internet forum nerds favorite choice to play every wisecracking hero from Hal Jordan to Nathan Drake in the form of Nathan Fillion. He provides the voice of Hal here and to be honest, he sounds all wrong. As does Jason Isaac’s Sinestro. Henry Rollins provides a surprisingly soft Kilowog and Arnold Vosloo gives us Abin Sur. Roddy Piper is also here providing the voice of Bolphunga The Unrelenting which is quite an apt choice.
Visually the characters have the exact same design as those in First Flight but this is clearly not the same continuity. Hals a veteran here and Sinestro is showing only the smallest of signs of what he is to become. Seeing as the film doesn’t have the same continuity or vocal cast it makes me wonder why they didn’t just go for a different look in order to set it apart.
Overall we have a slightly messily tied together collection of stories that have no ties to the climax of the film. The individual stories themselves are fine and would have served as a great introduction to the larger universe of the Green Lantern Corps if they weren’t bogged down by a clumsily implemented framing device. Despite this being the third Green Lantern adventure I’ve seen this year it seems they haven’t figured out how to top the excellent origin and introductory work done in Justice League New Frontier. If you get the chance watch that film. New Frontier does an excellent job of introducing you to Hal Jordan and I’d rather see an adventure that continues with that incarnation of him than any of the ones we’ve been given more recently.