The Green Hornet was not received well by fans at the San Diego Comic Con last summer. However, with the more recent trailers, a lot more people seem to be at least more interested and have more hope with the film. The Green Hornet comic and original television series were more serious than this new remake of the masked superhero, which seems to be making a lot of the hard core fans unhappy.
I have never read the Green Hornet comic, nor have I seen the original series, so I can’t fairly compare to the source. This review will be purely from what I saw from this new film.
As many people know, Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Superbad) is the lead actor in the Green Hornet and as Britt Reid and had to shed lots of pounds to play the title character. Rogen also wrote the screenplay along with Evan Goldberg, so he was quite invested in this project in various ways. Mega Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou (which I wrote a raving review for on his directorial debut of Secret) snagged the part of sidekick Kato (originally played by Bruce Lee) and Cameron Diaz of Lenore Case. Michel Gondry (who directed one of my absolute favorites – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) took on the direction after actor Stephen Chow dropped out of the film completely.
The story is nothing we haven’t heard of before. Britt Reid decides to be a masked criminal, after a strange run-in with bad people trying to harrass a couple after cutting off the head of the statue of his father with some help from his father’s car mechanic, Kato. Mistaken as a criminal, Reid decides to become the Green Hornet to perpetuate the criminal image by riling up the criminal community and creating more publicity for himself with the help of Los Angeles’ “Daily Sentinel”, the newspaper that was passed down onto him after the death of his well respected father (Tom Wilkinson). This pisses off crime boss appearance-conscious Chudnofsky (the oh so talented Waltz) and he decides to go after The Green Hornet.
The Green Hornet is definitely more a comedy than a super hero movie. It’s a fun-action movie that, if you can stand Seth Rogen, will definitely be fun to watch. Admittedly, I am not really a huge fan of Seth Rogen, even though there are films of his that I can stand to watch. I hated Knocked Up, with a passion, but it was due more to the script and Katherine Heigl than Seth Rogen. However, his character in The Green Hornet does not illicit feelings of warm fuzzies for me, as I found Britt Reid to largely be a jerk who was mostly jealous, unaware of his actions and his words, and who didn’t really have that many friends. Kato largely stole the movie for me. I’ve seen Jay Chou in other films, and I am not the biggest fan of his acting, despite loving his pop music and his movie Secret. But here, his cool demeanor works really well with Kato’s martial arts skills, his knowledge of weapons and gadgets and of course his command with cars…that create the other star of the film, Black Beauty. Chou steals the screen from Rogen, despite his weak english (which apparently, was actually dubbed over by his own recordings later). Admittedly though, one of the main reasons I wanted to see the film was for Jay, and I was happy to see that he did not disappoint me in his Hollywood debut.
Ultimately, The Green Hornet is a fun bro-mance, and it is the chemistry between the two leads that make The Green Hornet a lot of fun. Add in some fun and creative action introduced by Gondry and what results is simply a lot to entertain the audience. There were a few things I felt would have improved the story better – I really didn’t like Cameron Diaz as Lenore. I like Diaz, but I felt she was a bit miscast and a bit out of place in the film. In addition, I think Rogen is too much of a jerk for too much of the entire movie. Any longer and I’m not sure I would have been able to put up with his antics much longer. I almost found him to be borderline unlikeable. Others might find that Rogen may have already passed the mark of finding him bearable, which is something I’m sure the filmmakers would have liked to prevent. If you want the audience to root along with you while the super hero kicks some butt, I’m sure it would help if the super hero was liked a bit more. What did work with Rogen was his bumbling clumsiness. Instead of being super cool and knowing how to use the weapons Kato give him off the bat and knowing how to throw a right punch, he struggles a bit, and continues to struggle throughout the film, which was believable AND likeable.
In the end, The Green Hornet is just a lot of fun, a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If audiences go in expecting to laugh and have a good time, they will get just that. The action scenes are fun AND funny – so, who could ask for more than that? (Well, besides the hardcore fans that is, and those who hate Seth Rogen, but, that’s beside the point.)
3.5 Rolling Heads / 5 Rolling Heads