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Synopsis: Warner Bros. Animation is bringing the Green Lantern to television in an all-new CG animated action series from world-renowned producer, artist and animator Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Teen Titans, Batman Beyond, DC Universe Original Animated Movies). Based upon the DC Comics super hero, the 26-episode Green Lantern: The Animated Series will debut in 2011. As Earthís Green Lantern, Hall Jordan is used to being in dangerous situations- but heís never faced anything like this! Set at the farthest reaches of deep space, Green Lantern: The Animated Series finds Hal on the Guardian Frontier, where he must face down an invasion from the Red Lantern Corps. Powered by pure rage. The evil Red Lanterns have sworn to destroy the Green Lantern Corps and everything they stand for. Dispatched with his friend and former drill sargeant- the gruff, hulking alien Kilowog Ė on the experimental spacecraft The Interceptor, Hal is soon joined by an all-new group of heroes on a mission to protect Guardian Space Ė and the Green Lantern Corps itself!
By James Harvey
So, you've watched the first thirteen episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series from the last DVD release, right? The one that collected all those awesome 'season one' episodes into one handy two-disc set? And you really, really enjoyed them, right? Of course you did! Now, what if I told you that the second batch of thirteen episodes, wrapping up the first and only season of this vastly under-appreciated DC Comics animated series (the episodes were also labelled as 'season two' by Cartoon Network), was so much better than those first ones? Well....believe it. Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Season One, Part Two: Manhunter Menace is here!
When this series was first announced, fans were somewhat skeptical (arenít we always when something new is announced?). Many weren't sold on the CG factor, the lack of Earth-based adventures, or the buddy-cop premise that would cut back the focus on the Green Lantern Corps to mostly just Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Kilowog. Well, as most of you likely know by now after watching it, things turned out better than imagined. Green Lantern: The Animated Series is completely fantastic, with nary a weak episode to be found. Filled with genuine surprises, superb casting, great writing and ever-evolving characters, Green Lantern: The Animated Series is a show not to be overlooked. It manages to easily walk that fine line of appeal for both the younger and older crowd. And, actually, Iíd hazard to say thereís even more here for adults than children (but kids should check it out, too!). Iím going to avoid specific spoilers, though episode-specific details can be found elsewhere on this site.
This second collection picks up after the successful defeat of Atrocitus and a new treaty made to help the Red Lantern's rebuilt their shattered sector. Naturally, things fall to the wayside quite quickly as a new threat - the ancient Manhunters - emerge and Green Lantern Hal Jordan soon finds himself on a mission to get his team together and fight off this robotic menace. Things don't always go as expected as the thirteen included episodes show, which is one of the charms of this great series. This is a series that just embraces everything about the source material's mythology but also isn't afraid to strike out on its own. Some events happen over the middle section of this batch of episodes that takes the series on a different and unexpected path - and it's invigorating! It's a bold move, but one that pays off, right to the final emotional moments of the series.
Not to spoil too much, but we get to see some classic staples of the Green Lantern mythos, like Ch'p, and even some of the new characters, like Larfleeze, but all of it is wrapped together so nicely into one coherent tapestry. Not a single character or episode feels superfluous here. Every episode, even the odd one that feels a little light on plot connectivity, does eventually have a role to play in the overall narrative. But, at the same time, most of these episodes can be watched separately. Toss in some incredibly creative episodes like "Steam Lantern" and "Babel," along with a creepy episode spotlighting Sinestro, and it goes with out saying there is pretty much something for everyone here. And much like the Red Lanterns in the first thirteen episodes, the Manhunters drive the overall threat here. While they may not appear in every episodes, their presence is felt and they have a definite impact that - and believe the hyperbole - changes the dynamic of the show's main cast forever.
Led by Hal Jordan, Green Lantern: The Animated Series features a wealth of great characters, all voiced to perfection. Josh Keaton brings that rogue-ish quality that makes Jordan just a fun, attractive character. He's perfectly matched with Kevin Michael Richardson's Kilowog, who brings great heft and authority to his role. Thanks to the snappy dialogue and Keaton's acting, Jordan's given a bit of a reckless, devil-may-care attitude that fits right in with the Lantern's ability to overcome fear. He's instantly likeable and the perfect focal point for a series which features some pretty out-there adventures and characters. Most importantly, he feels like a real character. No matter where the show goes, he's our guide, and we will follow. I could honestly repeat the same compliments to the rest of the voice actors on this show and itíd still pretty much hit the mark. Every character is cast that well here, including complex turns by Grey DeLisle and Jason Spisak as characters Aya and Razer. While Jordan is the lead of the show, these two characters find themselves thrust front and center when a major plot twist throws the entire show on its head. Some other characters pop in, but to discuss voice actors further would ruin some of the neat-o surprises!
Through these final thirteen episodes, Green Lantern: The Animated Series continues to push the characters in new directions, spun out from the first thirteen episodes, and takes them in places you'd never expect. It's bold, it's engaging, and it'll hit you harder than you could ever expect. Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Season One, Part Two: Manhunter Menace presents the final thirteen episodes of this great space-opera, a fantastic series littered with engaging characters, fantastic story-telling, and genuine emotion. Iíve tried to remain vague because, for those who havenít had a chance to watch this series, it should be experienced as fresh as possible. Besides, Cartoon Network did their best to try to ruin a few legitimate twists themselves through the promotional materials they released ... and that didn't work out well for them - the fan backlash was incredible (and deserved). The last three minutes of the final episode play off so much better if you don't have it ruined by a review. So, basically, all of this rambling is just another way to Highly Recommend this two-disc DVD release. Don't miss it, folks. Basically, if you want to see Green Lantern done right, here's your chance!
And if you want to learn more about this show, continuing exploring this very subsite.
Moving on, as superb as the show is, Iím not sure the same can be said for the home video release ... again. Like the two-disc DVD set collecting the first thirteen episodes of the series, this release has a couple problems that hold it back, but by no means are an actual strike against picking it up.
Up first is the audio and video quality and, to no shock, itís pretty stunning for a standard definition transfer. Yes, there is some color banding present, but thatís to be expected when downgrading a high-definition product to standard definition. This show deserves a Blu-ray release, it really does. What we get here is great for a DVD release, but imagine how itíd look on Blu (better than the wicked iTunes HD downloads). As for audio, again, itís all top-class across the bar. While center-focused, each speaker does get a bit of a workout, especially during the major action beats. Quieter character moments also come through free and clear. Top-bar stuff.
Moving on to the disc itself ...sigh... not really impressed. Just a couple trailers. Pretty standard for these releases nowadays. While itís disappointing we donít get any behind-the-scenes content, especially when the creative team has expressed an interest in having bonus features for this release, itís not a deal-breaker. The main feature content along is worth it, but still ... a letdown. But an even bigger letdown is the cheap-looking menu system that Warner Home Video continues to use. Look at the menu grabs above. It looks likes someone slapped this release together through some cheap make-it-yourself DVD program. While the main menu page looks fine Ė and actually features artwork from the series Ė the rest just looks terrible.
But please, donít let that deter you. Pick up this DVD. Green Lantern: The Animated Series is a lush, exciting, and emotionally-driven animated series. Yes, thereís plenty of action, jokes, and great adventures to be had, but the showís ongoing narrative is driven by the characters themselves. Nothing feels artificial here and the conclusion it reaches in these final thirteen episodes is totally satisfying. The only frustration is the idea that we'll never get to see more adventures of this universe, but where the creators leave us at the last episode works. The creative team has done a great job in humanizing a very far-out concept Ė one that could be very difficult to relate to Ė and bringing it to a relatable level. This show makes you care, plain and simple, and you can't say that about the vast majority of entertainment out there. Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Season One, Part Two: Manhunter Menace comes Highly Recommended.
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