THE GREEN HORNET
*** (out of 5)
January 14, 2011
Seth Rogen as BRITT REID
Jay Chou as KATO
Cameron Diaz as LENORE CASE
Tom Wilkinson as JAMES REID
Christoph Waltz as CHUDNOFSKY
David Harbour as SCANLON
Edward James Olmos as AXFORD
Directed by: Michel Gondry
BY KEVIN CARR
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The latest superhero adaptation to hit movie screens is “The Green Hornet,” which has been seen, heard and read in almost every medium available since its incarnation. Still, it’s the red-headed stepchild of superheroes, existing outside of the main stable of Marvel and DC characters.
I read some of the “Green Hornet” comic books in the 80s, and I occasionally watched reruns of the old television show from the 60s, so I’ve had a bit of a fondness for this character since my youth. However, I made a point to put a lot of that aside considering the people behind the new film adaptation.
Seth Rogen stars as Britt Reid, the wealthy brat child of a newspaper magnate who is into partying more than business. However, when his father dies under mysterious circumstances, Britt takes over the business and wants to find a way to better himself and the world. Partnering with his manservant Kato (Jay Chou), Britt becomes a superhero known as The Green Hornet, who poses as a villain to fight crime.
First and foremost, “The Green Hornet” works as an action movie, which is why these films are made and why they tend to make a great deal of green. The fight sequences are brilliantly constructed, and there’s plenty of explosions, chases and eye-popping action to keep someone like myself interested.
Alongside the action is the presentation in 3D, which was done in post-production. As much as I am a supporter of shooting a movie in 3D rather than going through a post-conversion process, I will say that these films are starting to look really, really good. There’s very little artifacting happening in this film, and even the most stubborn critic like myself could be fooled that this wasn’t an afterthought. The 3D really adds to the action sequences and, with only a few exceptions, it looks damn slick.
The credit for the look of this film goes to Michel Gondry, who is best known for surreal art-house films and music videos rather than big-budget studio pictures. But his attention to the visual aesthetic really pushes the technology to make the 3D process look fantastic. There are plenty of sequences that are immediately identifiable as Gondry’s style, but this really doesn’t get in the way of presenting a mainstream action movie. So kudos to Gondry for crossing the bridge from art-house cinema to mainstream film.
Still, “The Green Hornet” is not without its flaws. Anyone who follows film knows this movie has been in development for years, and that shows in the script. Like last summer’s “Knight and Day,” you can see where there was a backbone of a basic story that still exists in the plot. However, so much has been added and changed that things don’t always quite fit together.
At its core, “The Green Hornet” is a very simple superhero story that we’ve seen many times before. But it’s loaded with added character offshoots (like that of Cameron Diaz who quite literally could be edited out of the film and not be missed) and attempts to enhance an actor’s ego, namely that of Seth Rogen.
The story is more convoluted than it needs to be, and at several times doesn’t make much sense. For example, so much is hinged upon Reid’s newspaper directing public opinion even though it’s in a massive city like Los Angeles. Were this written in the 40s, it would make more sense.
Then there’s Seth Rogen, who doesn’t just star in the movie but also serves as co-writer and an executive producer. This was a mistake because too much of Seth Rogen brings the movie down. It was casting out-of-the-box to put Rogen in the lead role of a superhero movie, but giving him so much power over the production leads to him schlepping his shtick all over the place. And, while funny at times, it almost always feels out of place.
So depending on where your tolerance level is for Seth Rogen, you may enjoy this movie or you may hate it.
Still, it’s a fun ride and enjoyable to watch, if for no other reason that some whip-ass, cool action.