The Green Hornet Directed by: Michel Gondry Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: January 14, 2011
PLOT: After his newspaper mogul father dies, party boy Britt Reid (Rogen) decides to fight crime with his fists, not words. Luckily, he has Kato (Chou) at his side, a skilled engineer also trained in martial arts.
WHO'S IT FOR?: If you enjoyed Pineapple Express or Superbad, shut off your laptop/throw out your iPhone and run to see this now. This movie may be bound to mortify Green Hornet purists, but it does offer great fun for those who wish their Slurpee cup superheroes would be more excited about being awesome.
EXPECTATIONS: After being pushed around to an undesirable January date, finally the The Green Hornet was getting a release. How would a match up of Seth Rogen and Michel Gondry look? What would the action scenes look like?
Seth Rogen as Britt Reid/The Green Hornet: Slightly slimmer than we may be used to seeing the Knocked Up star, Rogen makes no mistake that he’s a dumb party boy in The Green Hornet, but this isn’t a bad thing. As he ventures through the crazy events of the story, he shares our awe of how plainly cool things are (he constantly rightfully remarks about how much ass Kato kicks). At times Reid’s selfishness can be a bit much as it slightly sucks the fun out of watching Rogen play superhero. Still, this isn’t the manboy of wonder we’ve become used to. He makes mistakes (his USB snafu) like all of us. Score: 7
Jay Chou as Kato: He's not your regular sidekick. While he might stand for most of the orders dumped on him by his bossy friend Britt Reid, he's still an important force on his own. After all, he has the karate chops and the brains to make cool things like ejector seats with record players inside them happen. Sparing off as the brains against Britt's goofiness, he offers a great opposite to the title character, and stands as a force of cool whenever Reid is being purposefully clumsy. Score: 6
Cameron Diaz as Lenore Case: The best feature of Diaz's performance is the way the movie uses her. The movie doesn't make her a damsel in distress, or even a significant love interest. She isn't even just "The Hot Assistant." Her knowledge and headstrong attitude towards the salivating duo keep her from being a pushover character. Indirectly, she is a sidekick to Kato and the Green Hornet, offering them the information and control over their connections (such as D.A Scanlon) that they need on the newspaper front. How refreshing it is to see a character like Lenore being handled like a human being, and not as an immediate affection robot that contributes to a non-believable relationship between herself and the title character. Score: 6
Christoph Waltz as Chudnofsky: The recently Oscar-annointed actor stands outside of the shadow of his character Hans Landa, though he maintains the same thrill in dark humor that made him so delightful in Inglourious Basterds. Adapting to the Green Hornet tone, Waltz plays things with a heavy amount of goofiness, as he allows his his short size and initially unintimidating look to be made fun of heavily. Given a handful of great moments himself, (including whenever he is showing off of his weapon), it's almost as if Waltz isn't on screen as much as he should be. Score: 7
TALKING: The script is written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, the duo that have Pineapple Express and Superbad to their name. While they are indeed dealing with a PG-13 superhero audience, their taste for dialogue remains the same. The Green Hornet is probably the only movie this year that will have lines like “Suck it, you dickface!”, which are admittedly up in the air when it comes to how viewers will respond to its degrees of immaturity. However, always with humor on the mind, the script is loaded with truly funny lines. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Even though it apparently uses the diabolical tactic of post-conversion, the 3D does not look that bad (though it is not required). On top of that, I can't imagine that the IMAX would be very necessary either. Regardless, the slow motion is an absolute jaw-dropping blast to watch, as used in many of the movie's action scenes. If anything, The Green Hornet could've used another combat sequence, as rushing through a montage isn't enough. The battle royale at the end certainly makes up for whatever the movie may have been lacking. Score: 8
SOUNDS: The prominent usage of head banging tunes like Van Halen’s “Feel Your Love Tonight” or even the White Stripes’ “White Orchid” contribute to the energy of The Green Hornet, a movie that loves to pump itself up with songs not usually featured in your regular superhero film. Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” is resurrected as Reid’s pre-asskicking anthem. The underrated Johnny Cash song "Hung My Head" is used during a brief sad moment in the movie, even though the lyrics don't exactly fit. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: The Green Hornet has many enjoyable moments, but it's final sequence might be the most fun it has to offer. The surprising action goes hand in hand with big laugh comedy. Is this the first time a masked vigilante has tried to attack a person with office chair wheels?
ENDING: Sequel? Who knows. But I hope so.
QUESTIONS: How grossly offended will original Green Hornet fans be?
REWATCHABILITY: Talking about it again and thinking about it more gets me all the more excited to see it again. Who wants to go? I've got a gift card.
Next to David Fincher’s choice to make “that movie about Facebook,” Michel Gondry’s selection to direct The Green Hornet was perhaps the biggest directorial headscratcher of 2009. What on Earth would a superhero look like in the hands of such an arts and crafts director like Gondry? Or even, one that was played by frat boy deity Seth Rogen?
With the same imagination of a young boy toying with action figures with all props and locations standing as fair game, Gondry brings back the element of playtime to big budget superhero popcorn flicks. Very similar to what every boy does when combating one toy against the next, he loves to soak up the physicality of his human action figures with wonderful slow motion (which is seen in multiple occasions throughout). The film’s final fight, which has a glorious running time of about twenty minutes and features an explosive car chase, is the greatest example of the Green Hornet’s energy, and beautiful taste for boundless fun.
While a landmark genre movie such as The Dark Knight is undoubtedly awesome, the subsequent desire by other franchises to duplicate that movie’s tone is not. As Marvel Comics and DC Comics begin pig-piling their beloved characters into multiplexes, (something that might overwhelm us all this upcoming summer) these characters are starting to lose their distinctive color, and saving the world looks more like a nine-to-five job, or even worse, a duty that some didn’t want in the first place (Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk). To quote a superhero movie literate Britt Reid in The Green Hornet, “It’s in everything, it’s so stupid!”
Enter the The Green Hornet, a big-budget superhero film that doesn’t obsess about reverence to its roots, nor in making a movie that feels it has to respect the requirements of hero drama, or the moodiness that overwhelms some franchises (Spider-Man 3 overdosed on it). Quick, someone call for a “dark” super-vigilante who walks around with even more super emotional problems, we’ve got to stop director Michel Gondry and actor/co-writer Seth Rogen – they’ve made a superhero movie that actually dares to have some damn fun fighting bad guys.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10