Ror Reviews: The Green Hornet

Ror Reviews: The Green Hornet

Ror Reviews: <i>The Green Hornet</i>

Very few gave Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen's Green Hornet much of a chance. Where they right not to? Click for my take...

This is gonna be a divider! And for many reasons, not just the "fans of the Green Hornet will hate/non fans will like" theory(which of course is valid), but even if this was the first time any of us had heard of the character, Michel Gondry's movie is still the type to divide audiences. Is it an action movie with comedic elements? A comedy with some action? A parody even? Make absolutely no mistake, it's a comedy. Green Hornet is played for laughs throughout. It's not complete farce, and SOME drama creeps in, but don't expect the director or the cast to take the film or themselves seriously at all. Good job it's damn funny then eh?

The opening scene is a corker, with the villain of the story Chudnofsky(Christoph Waltz) dropping in on a rival in the drug trade(a great cameo from James Franco). In this scene Chudnofsky is established as threatening but worried that his criminal visage doesn't strike enough fear in people. It's a nice twist giving the villain an inferiority complex(one shared by the hero) but unfortunately Chudnofsky's arc hits a brick wall by the end(more on that later). Next we are introduced to The Green Hornet himself, Britt Reid(Seth Rogen). A complete tool. He's a boozy, womanising egomaniac who doesn't give a fuck about anyone but himself. But we do see a reason for it at least. His Daddy(Tom Wilkinson) is mean to him when he's young. When his father dies from an allergy to a bee sting Reid inherits the Daily Sentinel newspaper along with all of his father's great wealth. So we'l be getting the inevitable change of heart and accepting of his responsibilities then right? Nope, Reid stays an ass for the entire duration of the film, and it's all the better for it! Enter Kato(Jay Chou), Reid Sr's former car mechanic. The two bond over a mutual dislike of Britt's Dad and after a few too many beers they go out to cut the head off of his memorial statue! Yes, these are the heroes. As it would happen they come across a couple being set upon by thugs and Reid is compelled to help. Of course he is completely useless so Kato kicks their asses. The rush they get from this coupled with a desire to do good(but mostly the rush) inspire them to don masks and become costumed vigilantes. But Reid has the idea to pose as villains while they act as heroes. Of course this brings them into conflict with Chudnofsky so with the awesomely kitted out Black Beauty the duo head into battle.

It sounds like a pretty formulaic story doesn't it? And it would have been were it not for the aforementioned not taking of anything seriously. There is some great comedy on offer here. Love him or hate him the fact is Rogen has great comic timing and he has also written a damn fine script here with partner Evan Goldberg. There is a bit of slapstick and some juvenile gags but also some genuine wit on display and most importantly, it all works. I was laughing my ass off anyway. Rogen also has great on-screen chemistry with Chou, who plays Kato as the straight man to Reid's buffoonery. Chou, as you probably expected, steals the show here. Although he struggles with long sentences at times(English not being his first language) his talent and ability shine through it. He also gets the best action scenes of course. Using his martial arts ability and "Kato vision" to put on a visual display you wont forget in a hurry. There is also a most welcome return to the big screen for the awesome Edward James Olmos, offering great support as the Sentinel's new EIC. Cameron Diaz is less impressive as Lenore Case, although it's not really her fault. Her character is very underwritten, only serving to unwittingly provide Hornet and Kato with an insight into criminology and cause them to fight over her. Then we have Waltz. Chudnofsky was building up to be a truly unique and memorable villain for me, then they go and make him a damn moron in the last 20 mins. I won't go into too much more about that because I would have to get spoilery, but needless to say that you will barely notice he is there by the finale.

There are other problems too. Tonally, it doesn't always work. The mix of action and comedy is fine, but then they go and make Hornet and Kato killers. These guys are ruthless! And when you have a scene in which the two drive along while singing Gansta's Paradise followed later by one of them ramming 2 gun barrels through someone's eye sockets it just doesn't work. And Gondry, usually so innovative doesn't really display any of his trademark flourishes. There are a few scenes but for the most part he directs fairly, well, ordinary! That's not to say bad, I was just hoping for a bit more eccentricity I guess. Then of course, we have the fan/non fan factor. I wasn't a big fan of The Green Hornet but I did enjoy the old tv show for what it was. If you are a massive fan of the character you probably won't like Gondy and Rogen's take on the material but truth be told they really haven't taken too many liberties. Sure it's more comedic, but the story is basically the same. I mean how dark does the Green Hornet ever get anyway? It's not like they funnied up Batman. But I get that that's just a perspective from someone that really doesn't care that much. There will be some pissed off people.

I try to avoid this word when reviewing a movie, but here it's just too apt. Green Hornet is great FUN! It's action packed, well acted and at times hilarious. Some fans may have legitimate gripes but regardless of any disagreements with the style in which it was made, a damn good movie was made. Shouldn't that be the most important thing? Also, had they decided to play things completely straight, the bottom line is that the movie just wouldn't have been half as interesting.

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