Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Green Hornet Movie Review

Sometimes creative casting could draw howls of protest. Remember Michael Keaton as Batman? The fans thought Tim Burton was making a campy version of Batman. And they hated the idea of the comical Michael Keaton as Batman. Well, they were wrong. Keaton turned out to be a great Batman with his intense performance. Now, Seth Rogen known more for his comedies, plays a superhero in The Green Hornet, a movie version of the radio, film serial and TV show. Will lightning strike twice? That all depends on the execution.

The Green Hornet is about Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), a hard partying rich kid, who's he son of James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), publisher of a Los Angeles newspaper called "The Sentinel." The elder Reid dies from a bee sting because of an allergy. Britt inherits the paper and his father's fortune. After firing the staff, Britt rehires Kato (Jay Chou) because he can make a great cup of coffee. (I'm not making this stuff up.) Not only can Kato make a great cup of coffee, he's a superior mechanic, inventor, and martial arts expert.

Both disliked the elder Reid. They decide to cut off the head of his statue. After they commit this act of vandalism, they stumble upon a robbery. They stop it due to Kato's fantastic martial arts skills. When they return home, Britt convinces Kato to become vigilantes. They would be known as criminals but they would be warring on criminals. As they attack crime, they discover the most of the crime is being run by Chudnofsky. (Christoph Waltz) The two decide to take him down.

First, I'm going to discuss the 3-D. Surprised. It's not bad. The picture is still too dark. This is made worse by the amount of night scenes. And I do understand why they had so many night scenes. These guys were vigilantes. Most of the time crime takes place in the dark. Still, the 3D adds nothing to the film. If you see this movie, see it in 2D.

But what about the movie? It's a mess. Let's start with the casting. Seth Rogen is all wrong for the role of the Green Hornet. His portrayal is smarmy. Yes, I get the joke. And that's the problem. Rogen and his buddy Evan Goldberg (Superbad) wrote the screenplay. Clearly, they were going to take the superhero genre in another direction. It would be sarcastic and comical. Yet, they wanted to make an action movie with reverence to the TV show as evidenced by Kato's sketch of Bruce Lee and the car, Black Beauty which is a dead ringer for the old car. But you can't have it both ways. Either you make a comedy or a serious action picture. Yes you can make an action movie with humor, see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (1969) It's difficult to make a comedy with legitimate action because you can't take the action seriously. And that's what happens here. I didn't care what happened when it was serious. Add to that, the movie wasn't all that funny.

As for the direction and the performances, the tone of the picture overwhelms any good work here. Director Michael Gondry has skills but so what? I hated the sarcastic tone. Rogen comes off as kind of a punk. Jay Chou is wasted in some contrived romantic triangle with Reid's secretary. (Cameron Diaz) She's okay but I would have love it if her character decked Rogen when he made an insulting remark about her age. Christoph Waltz who was fantastic in Inglorious Basterds (2009) should get a second opinion on his scripts. If he thought this would be the comedy to break him out of the bad guy roles, he needs a better agent.

The Green Hornet is a bloated, and unfunny movie. The 3D conversion won't save this turkey. If you want a different take on the superhero genre, rent Kick-Ass. (2010) The difference? Kick-Ass took its material seriously then put in the humor. The grade for "The Green Hornet" is C-.