The Green Hornet

I figured I might as well strike whilst the iron’s hot and review a film that has only just come out. I figured since The Green Hornet has had the shit marketed out of it (seriously, I can’t turn around without seeing billboards, trailers, TV spots and the like) I figured I’d check it out. Also, it’s a big budget action/comedy concerning superheroes so I won’t have to exactly stretch myself creatively for the actual review. Let’s roll, Kato!

The Green Hornet (2011)
Are they ever going to run out of superheroes to adapt for the big screen? Whilst they existed before (Superman, Batman and some oddball ones like Blade and The Crow), the 2000s really stepped this up and we’ve now had a good, solid decade of superpowers, nefarious villains and impractical costumes. My question is this- is there going to be a point where studio execs go to the superhero archives and find that all the good ones are gone and the ones left are either too obscure to adapt or too shit to even care about? Having said that, The Green Hornet isn’t exactly a superhero per se, but he definitely belongs in the Batman/Iron Man camp- i.e. in lieu of using their wealth to help in the form of buying new hospital wings and the like, they turn themselves into technology-aided superbadasses. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s the most selfish way to help people ever.

“I want the head of The Green Hornet and I want it tonight!”
After newspaper mogul James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) unexpectedly dies, his son, partying layabout Britt (Seth Rogen) inherits his father’s wealth and estate. After being introduced to human Swiss Army knife Kato (Jay Chou), the pair get drunk and decide to fight crime using Kato’s mechanical skills and kung fu mastery as well as Britt’s money and newspaper connections to hype The Green Hornet. However, for every hero (or pair of heroes) there must be a villain- and this picture’s baddie is the forgettably named Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) a drug baron who seems preoccupied with his image and being feared. To complicate things, Britt also hires a new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) who captures the attention of both Britt and Kato. The plot is alright, but it has its problems. Chudnofsky is a weak villain, which is a shame considering that I enjoyed the pairing of Britt and Kato. It’s doubly a shame as Chudnofsky is played by the brilliant Christoph Waltz, whose performance as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds is so ingrained in my brain I have to stop myself from saying “That’s a bingo!” at the most inopportune moments. As I said, I thought the pairing of Rogen and Jay Chou works well. Sure, Chou struggles with any line over a certain number of syllables, but Kato’s not exactly known for his ability to soliloquise anyway. Rogen is just Rogen really, so your general impression of the film will be heavily swayed by how you feel about that. Cameron Diaz is underused and seems to be purely into the film to give The Green Hornet to feed him information and give him the (green) horn(et).

Here’s where my quest to become a respected film critic stumbles slightly. I really enjoyed The Green Hornet. It’s tough to be certain in your convictions when paid, professional writers are slating whatever it is that you liked. Still, this blog ain’t about them- it’s about me. I found the film to be pretty funny at times- something which I wasn’t expecting since I find most Hollywood comedies as funny as a housebrick enema. Even though my higher brain function told me not to, I still laughed a shameful amount at the inclusion of Gangsta’s Paradise.The action is also really quite good, with some genuine ingenuity to be found between all the explosions and slow-motion shots. However, that whole “blowing up the speed camera” gag, proudly displayed in the trailer? C’mon- I know Johnny English isn’t a masterpiece, but some people have seen it. To rip it off so blatantly is an odd move. Director Michel Gondry doesn’t get to leave his own brand of weirdness on the film, but the occasional shot reminds that there is a more creative director behind this very polished “motion picture event”. The splitscreen showing the rise in gang activity in response to The Green Hornet’s actions is the first thing that comes to mind. Oh, before I forget- fuck the 3D.

Chudnofsky is definitely the main problem with this film. He’s not funny and the efforts to make him self-conscious smack of “needing to give him a thing” when it came down to the writing stage. Had it been handled better, maybe the change to Bloodnofsky could have actually made sense, rather than appearing like a lazy way to up the stakes in the third act. To use Waltz in this way is just a waste of talent. He can play charismatic villains, this we know. So why the flying fuck is he boring and unfunny in this film?

“I thought we were both badassess the other night. I kicked that guy in the face, like, three times remember? I kicked him in the face!”

Here’s where I have to be as objective as I can be. I have a high tolerance for action/superhero films and will still totally be on board with the fact that Powersman has to get the Gragnathor to defeat the evil Zardex long after most people have got up and left, muttering that Powersman II: Mr. Zardex Goes to Washington is too generic and unrealistic. I love these types of films. I’m also aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for them either, so I figured I would just say what I liked/disliked and leave it at that- y’know, like a fucking film reviewer or something. The banter between Rogen and Chou is better than I expected, which is a good thing as the film relies quite heavily on that to keep the story ticking along at a good pace. As I said, the action is fun too, with the unique “Kato-vision” adding a fresh twist on standard fight choreography. So, go and see The Green Hornet and feed back to me. It’d be interesting to find out whether I’m alone in this one or not. Anyway, as much as I’d like to give it a four, I know in my brain that just ain’t right.

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