I suppose that writing partners Seth Rogen
and Evan Goldberg
(who penned the great “Superbad” a few years back) do not know how to proficiently combine action and comedy just yet. I felt close to the same way about “The Green Hornet” as I did about their attempt at stoner/buddy/action comedy in 2008’s “Pineapple Express.” Sure, both movies have their great moments, but they are too sporadic and inconsistent for the movie to really leave an impact.
Unfortunately, I must report that I walked out of this film feeling pretty disappointed. I had actually been really looking forward to it for some time now for the reason that it IS a Rogen/Goldberg collaboration. Not to mention it is under the direction of Michel Gondry
, who created such an instant mindbending classic with “Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind.” Maybe this project was just the pairing of the wrong people at the wrong times for the wrong sort of material. That is just way too much wrong for me to get behind.
This is a modernized take on a superhero character who got his start with a 1930s radio show and later moved on to television, comics and the like. Rogen himself plays Britt Reid, the bratty and overindulgent (but well-intentioned) slacker son of James Reid (Tom Wilkinson
), the rich supervisor of Los Angeles newspaper The Daily Sentinel
. His hard-partying lifestyle catches up to him when his father dies and leaves his great empire to Britt.
Also left behind for Britt is his father’s mechanic Kato (Jay Chou
), who prides himself in both turning cars into machines built for great endurance and making a fine cup of coffee. He also possesses a unique and remarkable set of martial arts skills that would even intimidate Bruce Lee (who actually got his start playing Kato in the TV series). Kato’s engineering know-how and aptitude for combat combined with Britt’s superhero fantasy of ridding L.A. of all crime is what commences the formation of the Green Hornet duo.
And granted, this introduction is actually pretty entertaining for what its worth. The Green Hornet may not have as intriguing of an origin story as comic book big-names such as Spider-Man or Batman, but there is still something to like. The fight sequences have an odd visual style that play out like one part “The Matrix” and one part “Scott Pilgrim
.” There is even a great (albeit short) cameo from James Franco
as an underground club owner who deals drugs on the side.
It is not until later in the film (maybe about forty-five minutes in is my guesstimate) that it really starts to lose any edge it might have had otherwise. The more it goes along, the more it retrogresses to the level of every other average action movie; lots of explosions, but not a whole lot of elucidation as to why there are so many (or why there are even any at all). The villain of the film, Russian crime lord Benjamin Chudnofsky, is played by Christoph Waltz
(who was so brilliant in “Inglourious Basterds”). Waltz brings some of his intrinsic charm to the character but is 1) not nearly onscreen as much as he should be and 2) is given very little material to work with.
And Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz
) is a pointless character, end of story. Diaz has proven that in other films that she has both great comic timing and the ability to act, but her efforts cannot even propel this character out of the mud that is character underdevelopment.
It is not like “The Green Hornet” is unwatchable. Like I said, there is a nice 45-minute chunk in the beginning that actually had me amused. But considering I put this at #3 on my most anticipated movies
for 2011, I can say that I am fairly disappointed with the end result. With talent like Gondry and Rogen, I do not think it was unreasonable for me to hope for something bigger and better. To make a long review short, it is not the January surprise movie like “Cloverfield” or “Daybreakers
” that you should feel compelled to rush right out and see in the theaters.
Oops! Speaking of theaters, I almost forgot to mention this little caveat: if you do in fact see “The Green Hornet,” I fervently advise you to pick the standard version. The film’s 3D just plain sucks. Absolutely nothing special (as to be expected from post-production 3D conversions) and it actually dims the color. It’s a lose-lose scenario if ever there was one.
More of my unmitigated insanity located here: http://saltythebeastblog.blogspot.com/