Billions of years ago, the Oan scientist Krona was obsessed with uncovering the origins of the universe, and he created a machine that'd allow him to pull back the curtain and witness that initial spark of creation. This forbidden quest created an antimatter universe and led to Krona's transformation into a being of pure energy. The consequences of his actions placed the entire universe -- multiple realities, even -- in grave danger, prompting Krona's fellow Oans to rechristen themselves the Guardians of the Universe. To atone for the havoc that Krona had wrought, the Guardians created an interstellar police force known as the Green Lanterns...creatures from one end of the universe to the other possessing great will and the capacity to overcome fear, each gifted with a power ring that is perhaps the most powerful weapon in creation. Despite the eons that have come and gone since the formation of the Green Lantern Corps, Krona's destructive grip has yet to be fully eradicated. He's planted a seed of destruction in the Oan sun that marks the very center of the universe, and the shadow demons he's unleashed are devouring any Corpsmen they come across. As the Guardians rally the troops for what may be the greatest threat they've ever faced, seasoned Green Lantern Hal Jordan fills rookie Arisia Rrab in on the history of the Corps -- its proudest moments and greatest figures -- all of which will prove key to overcoming Krona once and for all.
I'll admit to having been skeptical about Emerald Knights, at least until I finished tearing open the shrinkwrap. After all, DC's last
I've been reading Green Lantern comics for a couple of decades on and off, and so much of what I've come to love about the books finds its way into Emerald Knights. The character designs are fantastic straight across the board, from the more recognizably humanoid to the truly bizarre and alien, and I'm particularly impressed by how menacing and sinister the designs of the villains are. The power rings are used imaginatively and to full effect, a far cry from the boring force fields and green blasts from the Justice League cartoon. Even just the way the Corpsmen soar through outer space feels like they're moving in a three-dimensional plane...the way they twist and turn. It's a
The anthology approach taken by Green Lantern: Emerald Knights really pays off. The movie really takes advantage of the cosmic scale and expansive mythology of the Green Lantern Corps, weaving together these different stories in a way that's accessible to newer fans but appealing to longtime readers of the comics as well, disinterested in pandering one way or the other. I also appreciate the scale, creativity, and imaginative choreography that define the onslaught of action throughout the movie, and Emerald Knights pulls that off without resorting to the sort of lazy shock value that's crept into the comics as of late. There really isn't anything for me to complain about or criticize either: no hiccups in the voice acting, not a single weak segment in the anthology, and no stutters in the animation. Emerald Knights really evokes the sort of awe and wonder that fascinated me so much about the Green Lantern Corps comics in the '80s, and it's a very worthy addition to DC's animated library. Highly Recommended.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights generally looks terrific in high-def. Its colors are bright and vivid, and I'm sure it goes without saying that greens in particular are rendered exceptionally well. The linework is also consistently clean and crisply defined, very much setting itself apart from anything DVD could hope to deliver. Click on any of the screenshots below for a comparison between the DVD and Blu-ray disc, if you're curious how standard definition stacks up:
Emerald Knights does suffer from some of the same flaws that have crept into every other one of DC's animated titles to date on Blu-ray: banding, aliasing, and compression artifacting. Those issues do seem a lot less prevalent than we've seen in earlier movies, but they do still rear their head from time to time. This doesn't really dim my enthusiasm for what otherwise is such a fantastic looking release, but if you'd like to see a case in point anyway, look at how uneven and noisy the night sky is in this screenshot:
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights soars onto Blu-ray at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and its AVC encode and the rest of the high definition extras just barely spill over onto the second layer of this BD-50 disc. The set also includes a DVD that doubles as a digital copy.
The fidelity of this six-channel, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is pretty incredible. The voice acting is dazzlingly clean and clear, the score by Christopher Drake roars from every speaker, and there's an impressive heft to the lower frequencies as well. Emerald Knights never seems completely sure what to do with the surround channels, though, and the use of the rears is wildly uneven throughout. The opening sequence of the movie has a Green Lantern squaring off against a slew of amorphous shadow demons, and the sound design is teeming with silky smooth pans from the front to the rear as they soar across the screen. A few minutes later, Hal Jordan is weaving a tale of a massive planetary siege, and yet the surrounds there are limited to just reinforcing the music and adding a little reverb to the narration. The sequence after that has cannon fire that spills into the surround channels, but then these radial blasts right afterwards that encircle the screen are rooted entirely up front. The Mogo tale has one moment with hundreds upon hundreds of mechanical probes flooding the frame, and that doesn't take advantage of the rear speakers either. When Emerald Knights does decide to seize hold of the surrounds, it does it well -- the directionality to the dialogue in Laira's story and the grueling environmental havoc throughout Kilowog's days in bootcamp, for instance -- but that doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd have liked. That does keep Emerald Knights from feeling as cinematic in scale as it probably should, and that's somewhat of a disappointment since in every other way, the audio on this Blu-ray disc is flawless.
The list of subtitles and dubbed soundtracks is about as sprawling as the Corps' intergalactic roster: Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks (640kbps) in French, German, Italian, and Castilian Spanish, a Dolby Digital stereo dub in traditional Spanish, and subtitle streams in English (SDH), traditional Spanish, Castilian Spanish, German, French, and Italian.
Emerald Knights opens with a trailer for the live-action Green Lantern film, although for whatever reason, it's presented in standard definition and is letterboxed in non-anamorphic widescreen.
The second disc in the set doubles as a DVD and a digital copy, and Emerald Knights comes packaged in a beautifully designed and nicely embossed slipcover.
The Final Word
I liked Green Lantern: First Flight well enough, but it still felt like a toned-down version of Training Day with magic rings and purple aliens. Emerald Knights, on the other hand, much more effectively captures the cosmic awe of the Green Lantern comics. The way its five individual vignettes are interconnected really explores the depth and mythology of the Lanterns while still making each story feel like part of a greater whole, and there's always something strange, wonderful, and exciting waiting around the next bend. Emerald Knights consistently connects -- strong storytelling, accomplished voice acting, terrific character designs, inspired fight choreography, and wonderfully fluid animation -- and it's a movie I'd recommend without hesitation to both hardcore and casual fans. It does seem strange to me that the extras on this Blu-ray disc barely touch on Emerald Knights itself, although as someone who's been reading Green Lantern comics off and on for a couple decades now, I can't say I mind the emphasis being shifted in that direction. Highly Recommended.
A Couple More Screenshots...