Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Green Hornet’s Sting Barely Noticeable.

The Green Hornet

How do you make a Superhero seem great when his sidekick does most of the work? This is the question that latest incarnation of The Green Hornet franchise struggles with and never quite seems to resolve. Now, I have not heard the 1930’s radio show nor did I read any of The Green Hornet comics. Similar to many in my age group, my previous experience with The Green Hornet comes from the short lived television series of the 60’s. Reruns of the show would often air after reruns of the Batman series starring Adam West. The Green Hornet has always seemed like a second rate hero, and the fact that the show borrowed heavily from the Batman series in regards to aesthetics does not help. Another aspect is that Bruce Lee’s Kato overshadowed his boss in almost every episode.

In director Michel Gondry’s updated version The Green Hornet tale, writer and star Seth Rogen tries his best to make The Green Hornet finally standout above his sidekick. The key word is “tries”. The film focuses on Britt Reid (Rogen), the son of a wealthy news paper publisher (Tom Wilkinson), who must take over his father’s empire after his passing. After foiling a robbery with his father’s driver, Kato (Jay Chou), Britt realizes that it is his destiny to help others. Creating The Green Hornet alter-ego, Britt wages a war on crime and inadvertently finds himself the main target of a local crime lord, Benjamin Chudnofsy (Christoph Waltz).

Despite Gondry and Rogen’s best efforts, The Green Hornet still falls victim to the same flaws that hindered its predecessors. Britt Reid is just not that interesting a character, especially in this version where he is portrayed as a low-rent Arthur, a drunken party boy with daddy issues. Jay Chou’s Kato upstages Reid both in the action scenes and the comedic ones. One of the more humorous moments in the film comes when Kato is hitting on Reid’s secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), even though he know Reid is interested in her. Kato is so charming that it is a shame that the film was not centered around his character.


In fact even the villain, Chudnofsky, is far more engaging than the hero. Waltz is starting to rival Mark Strong as Hollywood’s go to bad guy, he is fairly entertaining in this film. The idea of a neurotic villain struggling to find a more menacing persona is amusing. Waltz does his best to bring life to the film, but is stifled by the muddled plot. The film spends so much time trying to establish The Green Hornet as a credible hero that it loses sight of the plot by the halfway point and becomes a farce by the end.

The film tries to keeps the action somewhat grounded as Reid is learning how to be a superhero despite not having superpowers. Yet by the last act any sense of realism is thrown out the window. The Green Hornet and Kato are dodging bullets, driving a car that has been sliced in half, and surviving situations that would be plausible for Kato but not for Reid’s Green Hornet. In the end, it just does not work. Rogen’s need to try and make the film a comedic romp does not work well. It is tough to take The Green Hornet seriously as a hero when it feels like he should be the sidekick instead of the star.


5 comments:

  1. Rogen's character is so unlikable here and really took away from most of the comedy from the film, but I still had a good time even though it was a disappointment coming from Gondry. Good Review!

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  2. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed a majority of this picture.

    Still, I understand your points. Good review!

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  3. @Dan - I have to agree that Rogen did little to help the character. I am actually starting to tire of Rogen playing these "he is a grown man still acting like a college student" roles.

    @Duke - What did you enjoy the most? The action? Or the comedy?

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  4. Thought this was ok. Waltz saved it from being a total dud.

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  5. @Ty - Waltz was indeed one of the highlights. I would like to see Waltz tackle more non-villain roles in the future though.

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