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Review: The Green Hornet

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When The Green Hornet was officially announced as starring the then pudgy comedian Seth Rogen as the titular hero himself it was understandable that concerns were raised. One of radio's all time greatest heroes didn't quite seem to jive with that casting.

But let's think about this a bit more objectively than the instant knee-jerk reaction that comes so easily when something from the past seems to be changed. First off, the Green Hornet isn't really that relevant. The radio show was most people's father's or grandfather's generation, and so shaking things up actually makes a very large amount of sense. The question then becomes did shaking things up for the Green Hornet actually make a good movie?

When The Green Hornet was officially announced as starring the then pudgy comedian Seth Rogen as the titular hero himself it was understandable that concerns were raised. One of radio's all time greatest heroes didn't quite seem to jive with that casting.

But let's think about this a bit more objectively than the instant knee-jerk reaction that comes so easily when something from the past seems to be changed. First off, the Green Hornet isn't really that relevant. The radio show was most people's father's or grandfather's generation, and so shaking things up actually makes a very large amount of sense. The question then becomes did shaking things up for the Green Hornet actually make a good movie?{{page_break}}

To begin -- and this could instantly put you off the film if you don't like Seth Rogen -- the character of the Green Hornet/Britt Reid has been completely recreated to fit with Seth Rogen. Instead of the smooth, suave and skilled newspaper publisher who takes on crime at night from the radio show (and most other incarnations of the Green Hornet) we have an immature, sarcastic playboy son of a newspaper publisher who inherits his father's paper after his untimely death. He also inherits his father's mechanic Kato (Jay Chao) who is a bit more true to form to the original character, but beefed up heavily on steroids and far less willing to be considered the Green Hornet's sidekick, especially since he does most, if not all, of the heavy lifting.

For purists this re-imagining might be offsetting, but for anyone else it shouldn't be. The reworking of the characters makes them actually believable and a fantastic parody/commentary on the superhero genre. Rogen's Reid has a childlike nature that perfectly excuses the idiotic idea that dressing up in green and fighting crime by pretending to be a criminal is a good plan. Meanwhile, Kato's superhuman abilities of kung fu and awesome car making (the Black Beauty is uber-beefed up) make him the actual hero, but stuck behind the goofy buffoon that is Rogen's Green Hornet. It's a dynamic not seen in most superhero movies and plays out very well in between the heavy dose of Rogen comedy and action sequences.

That isn't to say that this is a realistic film. If you don't suspend your disbelief at the door you're going to be yelling at (mostly purposeful) implausibilities and loopholes throughout much of the film. Thankfully, they're all easily overlooked because their either intentional or because of Rogen's charm, and Chao's ability to kick some ass. The rest of the film's story centers around the Green Hornet trying to take down crime boss Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), who, in an absolutely spot on critique of superheroes and villains in general, changes his name to Bloodnofsky and starts spouting the line "Whether it be my mask or your blood, red will be the last color you see." The entire film is filled with this kind of snarky overabundance and the sophomoric nature of both Reid and Kato are a pretty damning commentary on superheroes in general.

The film is also helped by the fact that Michale Gondry is brilliant. His first action movie shows that he has the skill and the talent to not just produce good action, but keep it moving at a pace that it should be at. Kato's fight scenes, accented by red highlights showing danger points as if he were in the middle of a videogame, are stylishly done and a blast to watch. Gondry also does some interesting things with the 3D in the film, especially in one sequence where the screen progressively gets divided up showing different locations and each panel takes a different depth on it. An over-the-top car chase centering around the ridiculously gadget filled Black Beauty becomes so absurd that its hard to believe, and yet Gondry's ability to keep everything loose and fun means you never actually get upset that what you're watching is beyond any realm of belief.

However, it's this sense of loose fun that keeps The Green Hornet from becoming a truly great film. It never really stops, not even when the movie seems to be dipping more towards a dramatic side. The final payoff of a more serious conclusion never really lands and as such it feels like the characters in the film never come to full development. This isn't to say that you won't have an absolute blast watching The Green Hornet, but it does take some of the sting out of the film.

 

Geoff Henao: 8.10 – Great. Who would have ever imagined a pairing between Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Seth Rogen (Funny People) would have ever come into fruition, let alone be successfully funny and entertaining? I know I didn’t, yet The Green Hornet has finally debuted in theaters, proving just how the two seemingly opposing talents can work together to bring us the one of the first real blockbusters of the new year. It’s what you expect from the two: a Rogen-esque comedy about a slacker searching for growth and a Gondry-filled film with the cunning camerawork and editing you’ve come to expect from him. While Rogen’s (and partner Evan Goldberg’s) writing overshadows Gondry’s direction, the film still showcases the two’s strengths. Honestly, it’s the most entertaining film I’ve seen in a long time.

Josh Parker: Overall Score: 7.55 -- Good. Many will question just how much directing Michel Gondry really did for The Green Hornet since his contribution is almost entirely unnoticeable, but that isn't such a bad thing. Seth Rogen and Jay Chou have fantastic chemistry as Britt Reid and Kato, which is more than I can say about Cameron Diaz as Reid’s secretary and love interest. Luckily Christoph Waltz eased my Diaz-induced pain with a hilarious performance as the film’s esteem-challenged villain. It’s no Kick-Ass, but it’s still a genuinely funny send-up of the superhero genre, with plenty of satisfying action sequences to boot -- even if Cameron Diaz shows up and tries to ruin it for everyone.

Tom Fronczak: 6.75 – Okay. There are three problems holding this film back from being very good. Many characters and scenes are filled with people overacting their parts to the point that it feels like a Will Ferrell movie and you never want to take it seriously. For the most part that's okay once you adjust and accept it, but then the last half of the movie has failed comedic dialogue that lasts long after the laughing does and even some scene logic that doesn't make sense. Lastly, Kato started as a tag-a-long sidekick who's cooler than the hero, but remains hollow the entire film with their relationship leaving me wishing the movie had been done much differently and kind of not caring how it ended. There's plenty of good comedy and action to marvel at, but it's all surrounded by quite a few moments that don't live up to the scenes that follow or precede it. Something worth pointing out though is that the 3D is amazing for a film that doesn't need it; boring board room meetings are warped into extreme perspectives that were fantastic to witness.

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The Green Hornet reviewed by Matthew Razak

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Matthew Razak
Matthew RazakEditor-in-Chief   gamer profile

Matthew Razak is the Editor-in-Chief here at Flixist, meaning he gets to take credit for all this awesome even though its really the rest of the amazing staff that gets it done. He started as a c... more + disclosures


 


 


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