REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN MOVIE KILOWOG FIGURE
I've always liked Green Lantern, and by that I mean Hal Jordan. Nothing really against John Stewart, Guy Gardner, or Kyle Rayner, but I always felt Green Lantern was at his best with the presence of Hal Jordan, out there in the stars with the Guardians of the Universe and the star-spanning Green Lantern Corps.
Needless to say, I've been immensely enjoying Geoff Johns' take on the concepts when he brought Hal Jordan back in "Green Lantern: Rebirth", updated his origin, and then reinstated the Corps, gave Sinestro his own Corps, and then came up with a whole bunch of other multi-colored Corps on top of that. These have been good times for a Green Lantern fan!
So, a live-action movie of Green Lantern certainly got my attention. It seems to me that DC has been a little hesitant about turning loose too many of their heroes on the big screen. We've seen plenty of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, but not a lot of others.
I respect DC -- at least until they announced the so-called "Relaunch", which is being deservedly likened to being the comics world equivalent of "New Coke". But from a cinematic standpoint, it's about time somebody else broke through that "glass ceiling" of the movie theater, and honestly, I'm glad it was Green Lantern!
Obviously, there's an action figure line to accompany the movies. Mattel has the Green Lantern movie line, since they also have the DC license in general, and they have produced a series of 4" figures, a larger series of 6" figures, and other assorted merchandise, including masks, power rings, and the like. For this review, I'll be taking a look at the basic, 4" scale KILOWOG Green Lantern figure. First off, let's consider the background of the character, from a comics standpoint.
Kilowog first appeared in Green Lantern Corps #201, in June of 1986, and was created by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton. A huge, hulking alien with a moderately porcine facial structure, Kilowog is renowned throughout the Green Lantern Corps as the primary trainer of the Corps' newest recruits.
The Guardians recruited Kilowog, a gifted genetic scientist, from the planet Bolovax Vik, located in Space Sector 674. Kilowog was trained by Green Lantern Ermey (a reference to popular Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey), who would often use the word "Poozer", which meant "useless rookies". Kilowog would later adopt this term himself, albeit in a friendlier way.
In the middle of a particularly arduous training session, Ermey had Kilowog and his fellow rookies help stop an attack on a group of Lanterns, one of whom was the future renegade Sinestro. Ermey, fatally wounded in battle, commended Kilowog on his abilities, telling him that he had the makings of a great leader. In addition to serving with distinction as the Green Lantern of his sector, Kilowog also began to spend extensive periods of time on the planet Oa, home of the Corps and the Guardians of the Universe, instructing new recruits. In this capacity, Kilowog acted as a trainer to Hal Jordan.
During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kilowog's homeworld of Bolowax Vik was destroyed. This was a powerful blow to Kilowog, as his race lived a highly communal lifestyle, and to be alone was one of the worst things imaginable. Owing somehow to the genetic similarity to and affinity for each other that all of Kilowog's people possessed, Kilowog was able to rescue the entire population of his homeworld by storing their collective life essences within his ring.
The Crisis also saw the Guardians divided, and their ranks depleted. The survivors decided to end their direct leadership of the Corps, and left for another dimension. Before doing so, they informed the remaining Lanterns that the Corps was now theirs to administer. Kilowog relocated to Earth with his former pupil Hal Jordan and several other Green Lanterns, briefly becoming a celebrity following his defeat of the villain Black Hand on live television in a battle over Anaheim Stadium.
This sudden popularity eventually backfired, however, when Kilowog was approached by a KGB agent and invited to live in the Soviet Union. Seeing some similarities between its society and that of his own homeworld, Kilowog accepted, and during his time in the USSR was instrumental in the creation of the Soviet Union's super-powered armored force, the Rocket Reds. Kilowog ultimately became disenchanted with the USSR, and left.
While with the Corps on Earth, Kilowog found a world in Space Sector 872 that would make a suitable replacement for his own lost homeworld. He tapped into his ring and reconstituted the entire population of his world. No sooner had he done this, however, than the world was obliterated by Sinestro, and the population was permanently killed.
Subsequent events led to the near-extinguishing of the Power Battery of Oa, leaving most Lanterns with powerless rings. Kilowog returned to Earth and wound up working with Maxwell Lord's Justice League International as a handyman and repairman. Later, when the Corps began to expand once again, and Hal Jordan was driven insane by the destruction of Coast City and attacked his fellow Green Lanterns, Kilowog was one of the casualties. Sometime later, his spirit was recalled to life by Kyle Rayner and the Guardian named Ganthet.
Following the return of Hal Jordan and the re-establishment of the Green Lantern Corps by the Guardians, Kilowog is recalled to service as the primary trainer of new recruits. However, following the events of Blackest Night, he decided he does not want to be the Corps' drill instructor anymore, just a regular Green Lantern, and arranges for the robotic Lantern Stel to take over his duties.
Prior to appearing in the live-action Green Lantern movie, Kilowog has turned up outside the comic pages in a number of episodes of the animated Justice League series, as well as Batman: Brave and the Bold. He has been present in both of the Green Lantern animated features, "First Flight" and "Emerald Knights". He even turned up in an episode of Duck Dodgers, in which the title character, played by Daffy Duck, temporarily becomes one of the Corps in the episode "Green Loontern".
Although the live-action movie of course focuses on the adventures of newly-minted Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Kilowog is one of a handful of alien Lanterns, which include Sinestro, Tomar-Re, and Abin Sur, to have a fairly distinct role in the movie. Most of the other Lanterns appear in scenes featuring large gatherings of the entire Corps.
Kilowog is voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan in the movie, an entirely reasonable choice, and interestingly enough, one that had been used before, as Duncan also voiced Kilowog in the animated "First Flight" movie. In the live-action film, Kilowog maintains his role as primary trainer of new Lanterns, and does get the word "Poozer" in. He states that he has never seen a human before and declares that Hal "smells funny". However, when Jordan defeats Parallax in the film's climax, Kilowog is pleased at how well he trained the human.
So, how's the figure? Well, there was a reason I called Kilowog a 4" scale figure. He's actually a good bit larger than that, in keeping with his movie likeness, which in this regard is in keeping with his comic likeness. Any way you look at it, Kilowog's always been a big guy.
Kilowog stands precisely 5" in height. His body is as powerfully-built as it is tall. In the movie, the costumes of all of the Green Lanterns, including the more human-type ones, ate computer-generated (even in those cases where the entire character itself isn't, which amounts to Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Abin Sur). The costumes are essentially meant to represent energy constructs, and for the most part duplicate the basic musculature of the wearer. In the case of beings such as Jordan, Sinestro, and Abin, this gives the wearer a somewhat ridged-looking costume, with a pattern somewhat akin to the anatomical particulars of the wearer.
Other Lanterns are different, Tomar-Re's costume, for example, looks partially scaled. Then there's Kilowog. His costume is neither scaled nor ridged. Granted, at his size, it's probably all his ring can do just to keep the costume on him in the first place. The costume still aligns to Kilowog's body shape, but this is far less in accordance with traditional humanoid anatomy then in the comics.
The designers of the movie, somewhat understandably, used computer animated to create alien Lanterns that, while they bore recognizable resemblances to their comic counterparts, were not necessarily duplicates. Fortunately, in my opinion, they didn't really go too far afield in most cases, certainly not among those with roles more prominent than just crowd scenes.
There is a degree to which this is to be expected, of course. It could be argued that a direct transition from the comic book designs would not have been workable on the big screen. This point is open to some debate in my opinion. Additionally, one can well imagine that if a bunch of trained designers and animators have the technology at hand to come up with an extensive and highly varied alien population, they're going to get as varied as they can within reason.
I do not find the designs of most of the Green Lanterns to be beyond reason. I would not want them to become the default designs in the comic books, but for the movies, they work, and are not as far afield as some transitions to the big screen from some prior established source as I have encountered (like Transformers).
Kilowog is -- lumpy. He looks like someone took a very large, muscular humanoid, and melted him somewhat. Not that far, really. Just enough to make him look alien, but not enough to make him look anything other than a massive powerhouse. He still has that aspect about him, no question. Between his powerful stature and his position as the primary trainer of the Green Lanterns, he comes across as the type who if he tells you to drop and give him twenty, you'll give him twenty of something before you even think of asking "Twenty what, sir?" And given some of the Green Lanterns, believe me, that question could have a wide range of answers.
Kilowog's face bears a reasonable resemblance to his comic counterpart. It is hairless, with the small, somewhat porcine ears, the pushed up nose, and the jutting jaw. The color is about right, a sort of pale tan-orange. Kilowog in the comics is a bit more pinkish, but with Sinestro and Abin Sur running around, I can't blame the producers for wanting to shift Kilowog's spectrum just a bit. The figure has some dark brown streaked across the features of the face to bring out the details. I'm not sure how necessary this was, and thankfully not all of the figures have it, but it's not too disagreeable here.
Kilowog's uniform, as I mentioned earlier, does not have the ridges on it that most of the other Green Lantern uniforms do. It's also a distinctly darker, more olive shade of green than the other Lanterns wear. Why this is the case isn't really explained. The Lantern uniforms, being the energy constructs that they are in the movie, don't have the clean lines between colors that the uniforms of the comics possess, and the designs tend to vary a little bit more than usual. However, Kilowog's uniform follows the traditional pattern fairly closely. The torso, shoulders, boots, and gloves are a lighter shade of green, and the arms and legs are a darker green -- not black, however. The points between the two shades of green are quite gradual on Kilowog's uniform. It's worth mentioning that most Green Lanterns in the comics have white gloves. This was considered for the movie, but ultimately dropped in favor of green.
Of course, Kilowog has the Green Lantern power ring on the second finger of his right hand, and the Green Lantern emblem in the center of his chest. The paint work is very neatly done, right down to the whites and green irises of some very small eyes.
Any complaints? Just one, sort of -- and it's the same one that most collectors have made about this line, and that would be -- articulation. Sadly, these Green Lantern movie figures are not very well articulated, and the collecting community has not reacted well to it, although I have been told that regardless, the figures have generally sold well. Kilowog is poseable at the head, arms, legs, and waist -- and that's it. The arms do move outward as well as back and forth, but even so, there is no elbow or knee articulation whatsoever.
On the one hand, I agree with the criticism. Producing a 5" -- or almost any other scale -- of action figure these days, and not giving such figures elbow and knee articulation, isn't going to win you many fans, especially in the collecting world.
On the other hand, I can see how this could happen. For one thing, these figures aren't really intended for the collectors. These smaller figures are more intended for the kids, or for the casual buyer who has seen the movie and wants a figure or two of it just for the fun of it.
Additionally, the detailing on these figures is very intricate. It has to be if it's going to match the design of the costumes in the movie, and at this scale, the sculpted ridges have to be a little exaggerated to show up properly. To have designed these figures with knee and elbow articulation would have, inevitably, diminished the look.
And I can see an additional point, as well. Although only five Lanterns -- Jordan, Sinestro, Kilowog, Tomar-Re, and Abin Sur -- are prominently featured in the movie, the toy line is coming out with quite the supply of Lanterns. And unlike a lot of toy lines these days, there's no real way to use any common molds between them, and there's a few for which it would be difficult to give them really extensive articulation. It would appear to me that Mattel has chosen population variety over articulation in this instance.
Now, would I have liked more articulation? Yes. Do I think they should have had more articulation? Maybe, although I'm starting to see why they might not have. Am I going to raise a fit over it? No -- because I can see why they might not have had greater articulation.
Fortunately, Kilowog is not at all pre-posed, and he looks cool enough that even on a limited basis, you can get some pretty cool poses out of him. The articulated waist helps.
Before I continue, let me recommend a book. It's a large hardcover, but most book retailers have sales of some sort or another. It's called "Constructing Green Lantern", and if you want an in-depth look at how this movie was designed, including an extensive section on the various aliens, that will honestly give you a better look at them than the movie itself does -- and might make you more interested in some of the various action figures -- then this is the book for you.
Kilowog comes with two accessories. One is a huge, translucent green "energy burst adaptor", a ring construct, made from a flexible plastic. It fits over his right hand, and also supposedly works with other "ring constructs" from other Green Lanterns.
Kilowog also comes with a "kid-sized" Green Lantern power ring, and I do mean "kid-sized". Despite a certain amount of flexibility, it's still a pretty sturdy piece of plastic, but if you're not a fairly small child -- don't even try to put this on your finger. Just set it on a shelf and let it look cool on display.
So, what's my final word? The movie is excellent. I definitely recommend it. The action figures are not bad at all. I might try to bring in one or two of the larger ones. I definitely plan to get a couple more of the 4" ones, and you can look forward to reviews of any additional movie-based Green Lantern figures that I add to my collection whenever that takes place.
Kilowog is nicely sculpted, well detailed, and well painted. He's an excellent likeness of the movie character, which is a more than reasonable reflection of the comics character. Really looks like he pretty much stepped off the screen. The limited articulation is a mild issue, but if you know what you're getting at the outset and can accept it, then he's definitely a cool figure, from a cool line, based on a very cool movie -- that's based on one of my favorite super-heroes.
The GREEN LANTERN MOVIE 4" scale figure of KILOWOG definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation! So go out and find one -- poozer!