Sunday, July 10, 2011
Emerald Knights is a decent, though unexceptional, DVD. Like Gotham Knight, it's a loosely-connected collection of shorts designed to coincide with a feature film released in the theaters. Also like Gotham Knight, Emerald Knights feels rushed. Still, between the two, Emerald Knights is quite a bit better.
Most of the short stories are adapted directly from classic Lantern tales; in some cases, the scripts are almost verbatim. The DVD's main problem comes from tone. Understandably, the producers tried to tie the short stories together using a larger frame, which set the mood of the piece. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that mood: they went with a darker, almost military science fiction feel, and there's certainly precedent for this in the Lantern Universe.
But that wasn't the right tone for the stories being told (or at least most of them). Similarly, Emerald Knights approaches the Corps with a similar philosophy used in First Flight (in fact, it's easy to forget the movies aren't in continuity, despite the presence of Sinestro). Once again, the rings are greatly reduced in power, playing up the science fiction and playing down the superheroism. We're of the opinion that the concept works best when the two are merged, but we respect that there's room for debate.
The standout story focused on Laira, a Green Lantern forced to choose between loyalty to the Corps and to her family. The story, while relatively generic, was well orchestrated, and the action sequences were exciting and fun to watch. The adaptation of Mogo's origin was also a welcome addition.
The worst of the bunch was the Abin Sur story, which did a great disservice to the comic it was based on. The original provided a sense of mysticism, which seems to have been excised from this setting. In place of the prophecy of The Blackest Night, we got a teaser for the Sinestro Corps War. While we'd love to see that movie made, it just doesn't have the same impact or poetry, and the story just winds up feeling pointless.
The movie's saving grace comes in the animation and designs, which are extremely strong. But, overall, the movie feels bogged down. Nathan Fillion, who should have been the ideal choice for Hal Jordan, feels wasted. Fillion is at his best when he's given room to have fun - so is Hal Jordan, for that matter. And this production just didn't leave room for fun.
Warner Bros. has released some phenomenal direct-to-DVD features over the past few years, several of which were better than most of what's shown in theaters. While Emerald Knights isn't a bad picture, it certainly wouldn't deserve a theatrical release. But, then again, neither did the live action Green Lantern.