After 19 years of studios and filmmakers attempting to make a Hollywood film version of The Green Hornet, it finally happened. Based on the TV series, that was based on the film serials, that were based on comic books, that were based on the 1930’s radio program, The Green Hornet (2011) is a superhero movie, but somewhat different from the typical comic book films we are used to seeing.
The Green Hornet tells the story of Britt Reid (Seth Rogan) who is the son of wealthy newspaper mogul, James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). Britt lacks ambition and is wasting away his life in every possible area. When his father dies unexpectedly, Britt is bitter, and along with his father’s mechanic, Kato (Jay Chou), Britt sets out to vandalize his father’s memorial. In the process of cutting the head off of his father’s statue, Britt witnesses a small gang attacking a young couple walking down the street. Britt tries to intervene, and Kato joins Britt as they proceed to fight off the entire gang.
Now that Britt’s father is dead, he has complete control of his father’s newspaper. He uses his power to continuously print stories about the Green Hornet, in order to gain popularity as well as the attention of the Los Angeles crime boss, Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). Britt hires a new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), who he has do research to try and predict the Green Hornet’s next moves. Then Britt, along with his nameless sidekick, spend their nights doing exactly what Lenore has predicted.
Where The Green Hornet differs from other comic book films is that Britt Reid is a loser. He has coasted through life without really learning anything. He has Kato to build his weapons and “Bond-like” cars, and he has Lenore do all the “brain” work. He doesn’t even have to run the newspaper because he has his father’s trusted partner, Mike Axford (Edward James Olmos), to run that area of his life. Britt Reid may very well be the laziest superhero ever.
Being a screw-up does have some advantages. Unlike most comic book heroes that are suave and sophisticated, the Britt Reid character is able to focus on being funny. Seth Rogen not only starred in the film, but also co-wrote the film with his longtime filmmaking partner, Evan Golberg. The film plays to Rogan’s comic strengths, and ends up being much more hilarious than expected.
Where Rogen lacks is in his crime fighting skills, his sidekick, Jay Chou, easily fills in these gaps. He may not equal Bruce Lee’s performance of Kato from the TV series, but he certainly does a respectable job with the role.
The rest of the cast seems misused, as Cameron Diaz is hardly in the film enough to take any credit, and Christoph Waltz is supposed to be a villain that doesn’t appear to be scary, but Waltz is too good at being scary. It would be hard to make him not appear intimidating, especially considering this film was released the year after his terrifying portrayal of the Jew hunting Nazi in Inglourious Basterds (2009). The best supporting performances in the film are the two cameos by Edward Furlong and James Franco. They are well used in their hysterical, albeit brief, scenes.
The Green Hornet is not a great action film. The filmmakers rely of the special effects too much, and they had nothing new to bring to the genre. The direction seems misguided, and for an action film without substance, it drug on too long. Even the Green Hornet theme song was underused, further distancing the franchises fan base from the “new” look that director Michael Gondry created. They did however do an above average design on the “Black Beauty” vehicle. I was also surprised, and pleased, with the abundance of comic relief that is in the film. Despite the film’s humor, it is still easily forgettable, and although it had a decent showing at the box office, it is unlikely to gain a following or any sequels. Then again, after Batman And Robin (1997), I thought that franchise was dead as well.Back to Home for More Reviews