Notable Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wilkinson
Review: The writers of Superbad are at it again, this time taking a silly stab at the superhero genre. Teaming with director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/The Science of Sleep), I was more than interested on how their styles would work together. Strikingly awkward but beautiful visuals teamed with immature teenage humor? It was a total toss-up. Going in not knowing what to expect, I laughed much more that I thought I would while at the same time realizing how predictable and lackluster the writing was. Gondry’s influence was almost nowhere to be found most of the film, except for a few scenes where the action dulled and Gondry could get creative. The Green Hornet was simply entertainment. Not a work of art, not something I have to show all my friends, just a decent way to spend $10 and kill and hour and a half. Nothing more.
Based off the old radio show, The Green Hornet tells the story of Britt Reid (Rogen) and how he creates his superhero alter ego. When his father dies suddenly, he inherits his newspaper company “The Daily Sentinel.” Reid has no interest in the job though, being used to his wild party filled lifestyle. When he connects with his father’s old mechanic/coffee maker Kato (Chou), the duo bond over how Britt’s father treated them both and how there is no justice in the world. They decided to take matters into their own hands, and Kato displays his unique skill set that ranges from martial artist to talented super mechanic. Thus, the identity of the Green Hornet is born and the two vow to clean the streets, but keep up a villainous reputation so they can infiltrate deeper and deeper in to the seedy underworld. Britt also hires a new secretary in Lenore Case (Diaz), who has a background in criminology. Britt inadvertently uses her to create plans for him and Kato without her even noticing. Of course this catches the attention of ruler of LA crime world ruler, Chudnofsky (Waltz), and the Green Hornet quickly becomes number one on his to do list. Can Britt and Kato bring justice to LA, or will Chudnofsky squash the Green Hornet like a common pest?
Let me just throw this out there. As much as I liked Waltz’s character, if the report about Cage is true I would have DIED to see him in The Green Hornet. It was reported that Nic Cage was cast as the lead villain, but for some reason insisted his character have a Jamaican accent. Are we joking? It was reported he no longer wanted to stay on the movie and this could have been just to piss the right people off, but am I the only one who would have died to see Nic Cage using a Jamaican accent fighting the Green Hornet? Sad part is Cage probably left the film to go shoot Season of the Witch or some garbage. I loved Waltz’s rendition of Chudnofsky, although his was Jamaicanless, playing a crime lord trying to reinvent himself and become scarier. He was created with the perfect amount of ruthlessness and self-consciousness that played hilariously with one another. Waltz has the perfect villainous persona to begin with though, using that devilish smile and dead blank stare to perfection. Cage might have had a funnier accent, but Waltz can act circles around him making him an undoubtably better choice, and also probably the best character in the film.
There is also an expiration date looming over Seth Rogen’s head. His portrayal of Britt Reid was mediocre and his foolish lines were ever so predictable. How many times can we watch Seth Rogen say inappropriate things and create awkward situations? People complain about Michael Cera being type cast, but Rogen falls in that same category. His comedy didn’t have the same effect on me as it did in say Knocked Up, but the watered down PG-13 rating might have something to do with that too. His comedy is much better suited in the more vulgar R environment, because honestly Rogen’s acting came off childish and tiresome, becoming less and less funny as the film progressed. Good thing he had Kato to bounce off of when scenes got dull. Rogen was much more successful when playing off other characters than creating moments of his own. Most of the film relied on the bromance between Britt and Kato, because love interest Lenore played a much smaller role than expected. Unfortunately the two had no chemistry on scene minus a select few moments. Britt singing and Kato busting out the chorus to “Gangster’s Paradise” was one of the unexpected highlights of the film, along with his other antics like the introduction of the gas gun. Chou’s martial arts were also more than impressive, and were exciting to watch during the fight scenes. I loved the Kato vision that would take place as time slowed down, which enabled Kato to pull off moves that had me pumped up just watching. Chou was the most fun to watch and really ramped the intensity of the movie up with his fighting skills.
I must say though, if you are deciding between the 3D or regular version, skip the 3D by all means necessary. Not only was there barely any use of the horrible movie 3D, but you’ll have to deal with blurry images the whole time. Anyone not in focus was fuzzy or transparent, making the film look like utter garbage. Worth the extra? Not by any means.
At the end of the day, The Green Hornet is nothing life altering. I got my share of laughs and excitement, but the final product was nothing to write home about. There was some cool gadget work, but with Gondry’s vision I expected much more uniqueness. I can only pinpoint one time in the film where it goes full Gondry, and that was only for about 2 minutes. Honestly, it was a waste of potential and The Green Hornet might have been better suited finding a director more focused on action if you weren’t going to let Gondry fully loose creatively. Rogen and Chou make an interesting duo, but their banter becomes repetitive and their actions predictable. Christoph Waltz is the only one who delivers throughout, especially when he undergoes his villain evolution towards the end. The Green Hornet musters up enough momentum to keep you averagely content throughout, but never delivers that final sting you’re waiting for.
Final Rating: 6.5 seconds it takes Jay Chou to beat your ass out of 10