The Green Hornet
"...Green Hornet is not a disaster, it's a misfire."
The Green Hornet (2011)
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, Tom Wilkinson, Edward Furlong
Running Time: 110 min.
Plot: See review below.
NINGEN'S REVIEW: Britt Reid's a goof-off son of a media mogul-played by Seth Rogen-whose dad passes away unexpectedly. After becoming newly acquainted with his dad's ex-servant, Kato-played by Jay Chou-Britt discovers that Kato's not just good with making coffee, but also tinkering with machines, as well as fighting using martial arts. Together, they decide to use their resources to fight crime-partly by posing as criminals who destroy gangs from the inside, and mostly by tracking down their hang-outs and using their "wonderful toys" to take down thugs. They also vie for the affections of Britt's secretary Lenore, played by Cameron Diaz.
To be honest, I never really watched the original Hornet show w/ Van Williams and Bruce Lee. And I'm obviously too young to have heard the radio version. I saw clips of the tv series here and there, including the cross-over episode where they try to fight against the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman and Robin, but it ends in a "Mexican stand-off". [Allegedly, the reason it went that route was that the Hornet fans didn't believe that Bruce could lose to West and/or Ward in a fight, while Batman and Robin fans didn't like the idea of seeing their heroes lose any fight. And for those wondering, Bruce makes a "cameo" in this new version, too, btw.] And I haven't seen Jay Chou's non-Initial D stuff, other than a rap video for Fearless. So all I really cared about was whether the concept would have some fun to it as a movie version, not whether it was entirely faithful to the original material. For example, Zhang Ziyi as Kato and Kevin Smith as a director would've at least been interesting, maybe even exciting. And Stephen Chow as director and co-star would've at least been memorable.
But, no, the studio had to kick out Chow and pick the guy whose last mainstream movie was about re-enacting scenes from movies off destroyed videotapes. And the other guy whose only real hits are from forgettable sex comedies got picked as the lead and co-writer. Now I don't hate Seth Rogen. He seems like a fun guy, even if he does basically play a party animal in every film he headlines. But pairing him with a director whose only hit movie I did hate, because of how pretentious and lazy it came off, gave me some serious warning signs that this adaptation was going to be a mess. Jay Chou's alright, but he doesn't really stand out enough in his roles. He did alright as Takumi in Initial D, because the main character there is supposed to be somewhat apathetic. In Hornet, though, his back-story comes off more like an after-thought, even though he goes beyond being just a wing-man.
And while Green Hornet is not a disaster, it's a misfire. It wants to be the next TDK, but it morphs into a PG-13 Kick-Ass. Not that I liked K-A much, either, but at least the writers and directors on it did not drag out the story with unnecessary sub-plots. For example, this movie should be about how Reid and Kato become heroes, and learn how to get used to any slip-ups on the job. But instead, this movie is about Reid's father and his shaky political relationships, and how they relate to the increased crime in the area. And the supposed culprit behind this criminal activity, Chudnofsky, played by Christoph Waltz, is not even the ring-leader. He runs the operations, but he's working with someone else behind the scenes. Plus, anyone hoping they'll get more Col. Landa from Basterds will have to wait another time, as all he really does is fire his weapon at random people and get into verbal cat-fights with other gangsters over how he's dressed.
Furthermore, you rarely even see that much crime-fighting, because the pair are either sparring over a secretary who's not interested in either of them, at least in that way; or they're dealing with office work at a newspaper company. Or, they just play with stupid gadgets. In fact, it feels like the movie just appropriated the whole superhero parody sub-plot in Orgazmo and tried to give it an actual budget, but axed the fight scenes, and emphasized talking scenes in their place. You do get car chases and shoot-outs in Green Hornet, but the camera's too close, and the scenes subsequently morph into a become a boring, convoluted mess, where you don't know who's firing, and what. Oh, and don't bother with the 3-d version of the film, as it consists of the usual floating objects gimmick which is being used as an excuse to charge everyone an extra $5.
So in short, Green Hornet's an ok rental, but only something hardcore fans really need to see. Otherwise, anyone else expecting this film to be more than just another bad Rogen comedy will be severely disappointed.
NINGEN'S RATING: 5.5/10