The Green Hornet (2011)
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Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, George W. Trendle
Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Christoph Waltz, David Harbour, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Harris, Chad Coleman, Edward Furlong, Morgan Rusler, Taylor Cole, Robert Clotworthy, Jamison Yang, Gary Davis, Lu Parker, Diane Mizota, George Fisher, Daniel Arrias, Eddie Perez, Keith Adams, Dennis Keiffer, David Powledge, Jerry Trimble, Maximilian Law, Reuben Langdon, Joe O'Connor, Jill Remez, Joe O'Connor, Joshua Erenberg, Analeigh Tipton, Michael Holden, Irene White, Billy Mayo, Brandon Rudat, Beverly Brooks, Theodore Bressman, Dave Rickley, Dina Mamedova, Tanner Gill, Bryan Thompson, Amir Abdalla, Alexandra Lord, Christy Petersen, Frederick C. Ruiz, Travon Magee, Zoli Dora, Austin Michael Coleman, Les Mumphrey
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|Movie Review by Ben |
February 10th, 2011
So that's why they released it in January
I grew up listening to old radio reruns of "The Green Hornet" on KNX 1070 AM. There was something about this particular superhero that stood out. He was not a supernatural being endowed with special powers no one else had. Like Batman, he is seen more as a fugitive than as a hero. In real life he goes by the name of Britt Reid, newspaper publisher of the Daily Sentinel. It is kind of tempting to think of him as a superman in that he does a hard day's work at the paper, and yet has more than enough energy to fight the bad guys at night (he could have been sponsored by Red Bull!). Still, he was not a man of steel and far more vulnerable than any of the X-Men. This made the danger he put himself and his "fateful valet" Cato all the more exciting; one wrong move and they're done for.
This made the prospect of seeing "The Green Hornet" all the more enticing. If it was done right, it could be more than just your average superhero movie. Take away his status as a newspaper publisher for a moment, and you'll see that Britt Reid is just an ordinary guy who puts on a mask and becomes a caped avenger out for justice. The only problem is, they made a movie just like that last year called "Kick Ass," and it turns out to be infinitely better than this.
"The Green Hornet" turned out to be a disappointment, and that's even with lowered expectations. Considering the talent involved, Michel Gondry who directed one of the past decade's best films with "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind," this should have been anything but average. It can never figure out if it wants to be a solid comic book movie or something campy, and that unevenness in tone is quite jarring after awhile. It's not terrible in the way many January movies are, but that it was released then kind of makes me think that the studio's confidence in it wasn't too high.
Playing Britt Reid/The Green Hornet is Seth Rogen who seriously slimmed down for this part and making a case for getting a good personal trainer. It's a little weird to see him as an action hero now, but he did co-write and star in "Pineapple Express." Still, Seth Rogen turns out to be utterly annoying as Reid and his alter ego to where I just wanted to see Cato b*tch slap him to no end. While I admire the fact that along with co-writer Evan Goldberg (who both wrote "Superbad"), Seth makes Cato the brains of the operation, he spends too much time portraying Britt as an egotistical jerk. We all know it's a setup for him finding redemption when he discovers what a jerk he is, but that act goes on way longer to where I was saying in my own head:
"GET OVER YOURSELF ALREADY!!!"
Don't get me wrong, I like Seth Rogen a lot and I'm sure he'll rebound from this, but "The Green Hornet" is not going stand out as one of his finer moments.
Playing Cato is Jay Chou, a Taiwanese musician, singer, music and film producer, actor and director. Taking all that into account, it's suddenly all the more believable that Cato would make excellent coffee and do amazing work on cars (with or without the vinyl record player in the back seat). Originally Steven Chow was cast as Cato, and it would have been a kick to see him here on the basis of "Kung Fu Hustle." But that didn't happen, so we have Chou instead. What he does here is not Bruce Lee spectacular, but he acquits himself well and makes Cato an exciting presence with all the martial arts moves we'd love to do ourselves but never get around to taking classes.
Then you have Cameron Diaz playing Reid's vivacious and intelligent secretary Lenore Case. Now I previously defended Cameron when she was in "Knight And Day" playing a woman attracted to Tom Cruise's slightly unhinged character, but the role she has in "The Green Hornet" is her just dialing it in. Cameron doesn't bring anything special or unique to this character, and her performance is of your basically blonde haired beauty that lands a cushy job thanks to her beautiful looks. Now I actually buy her as a student of criminology, but now I think she is just coasting in this role as if she could play it in her sleep. All the giggles and smiles Cameron is none for are on display, so yeah, this is just Cameron Diaz being Cameron Diaz.
The best performance in "The Green Hornet" comes from Christoph Waltz, fresh off his Oscar win for "Inglourious Basterds." His character of Chudnofsky is not the fearsome Nazi that Hans Landa was, but the sense of humor Christoph brings to the role is irresistibly fun to watch. Watching him get all bewildered when people don't find him all that scary is a hoot, and his ideas of outdoing the Green Hornet in the publicity department are delivered sincerely even though they are incredibly ridiculous. Christoph succeeds in giving this movie some of its more memorable moments, and I look forward to seeing his work again in the future.
In terms of action, this film is certainly not lacking in any. Michel Gondry does generate some amazing visuals throughout, especially in the fight scenes with Cato. While seeing him analyze his opponents as if he was Robocop or the Terminator is a little over the top, it's a great setup for when he pulverizes each of them in a wonderful ballet of movements that make his ass kicking of the bad guys look effortless. It looks like "The Matrix" crossed with those slow motion sequences from John Woo movies.
All the same, action doesn't mean much without a solid story and characters, and that's where "The Green Hornet" seriously stumbles. We don't care enough about them, they act like people you want to get away from at a party, and they go through the superhero motions to where nothing new is brought to the genre. Even when it gets mind numbingly loud, I was still curiously unmoved by the spectacle Hollywood spent millions and millions of dollars on.
However, I do love me that b*tchin' car collection of Britt Reid's and the work Cato has done on each of them. The Black Beauty has an engine that demands to be revved up by whoever drives it. Seriously, it sounds even sexier than my V6 Honda Accord!
I also should mention that I saw this movie in 3D. Believe me when I say that I was actually hoping to see it in 2D, but there was no time unfortunately, and I had to shell out a few more bucks which proved to be a waste of money. It's another of those movies where 3D was added as an afterthought, and you had to wear those heavy Real 3D glasses which only make the images onscreen darker than we would prefer. A few times while watching it, I completely forgot it was in 3D, and I don't mean that in a good way. Aside from "Piranha 3D," there are very few examples of 3D conversion that work. If you have to see "The Green Hornet," please see a matinee of it in 2D.
"The Green Hornet" does have its moments, but they are sandwiched between many mundane ones that squelch out most of the excitement. Now usually I try to patient and forgiving with movies that have been in development for more than half of my life, but at some point I need to be honest with myself. This could have been so much better, and more emphasis should have been put on the characters than on the special effects. It's going to take more than the Hornet's gas gun to keep us on board if a sequel to this ever gets made.
Actually, the scenes with the gas gun were really funny and didn't feel like forced humor. Maybe Seth and company will keep that in mind
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