The Green Hornet and Kato come off as a diluted Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl.
2 ½ out of 5
Let’s clear up potential market confusion: this movie is not the one starring Ryan Reynolds as an Earthman chosen to be a member of an elite intergalactic police force who wears a power ring that runs on his own willpower. That’s Green Lantern. That’s coming this summer with much anticipation among sci-fi and comic book fans.
Nor is this Green Arrow, archer-extraordinaire and longtime member of the Justice League, now appearing as a supporting character trusted friend on Smallville. Give it time, he’ll get a movie or at least a series.
So who and what is The Green Hornet and will the ComicCon attendees that drive market research and movie buzz want to go? They may have seen The Green Hornet before – but it was somewhere tucked into the comic convention equivalent of an oldies bin. There may be some little pin or magazine with a picture of The Green Hornet on it somewhere there. The Hornet has rarely been a comic book series– it actually began as a radio show, became a movie serial, and then was a TV series in the vein of the Adam West Batman series. Odds are if today’s geeks know anything about it, it’s that Bruce Lee was on the TV series playing sidekick Kato.
Is there anything in a 2011 Green Hornet movie for these kids? Well, they might like comedic actor and stoner hero Seth Rogen in the title role. They might want to see some modern martial arts action with Jay Chou as the new Kato. They might want to check out leading lady Cameron Diaz. They might want to check out the 3-D. They might want all those things – but they’ll likely see a movie that tries too hard to update an old hero and still ends up feeling kind of quaint. Even this older movie critic who knew who The Green Hornet was feels that way.
Rogen plays Britt Reid, a party boy heir to a major newspaper who finally has to take some responsibility when his father passes. He befriends his father’s old assistant Kato, who pretty much excels at everything – he’s an inventor, an expert mechanic and superb martial artist. Reid’s daddy issues influence his desire to want to do some good – and with Kato’s help, he becomes The Green Hornet – an urban legend and scourge of the underworld.
There’s some good old-fashioned super hero action – but most of the movie is devoted to Britt and Kato setting up The Green Hornet’s modus operandi and plotting their next moves. They’re very much going through the motions -- so much so that at one point, The Hornet even announces “I’m in a car chase!” to let us know which part of the plot we’re up to.
The movie’s premise seems to be “why can’t an ordinary man become a super hero?” – which is actually the same premise as Kick-Ass, a film executed with much more style, wit, action and modern sensibility. Kick-Ass took place among young people who live in a social networking world. The best The Green Hornet can do is set up an e-mail address – it’s like they didn’t want to get too modern and confuse anyone in the audience who does remember the TV series. As they drive around and try to find their way, The Green Hornet and Kato come off as a diluted Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl.
The other stars seem a little bit wasted here. Cameron Diaz looks as good as ever, but in an odd in-joke, the script even acknowledges she may be a little old to be part of this. And sadly, villain Christoph Waltz – so terrifying yet so charismatic as a Nazi in Inglorious Basterds – doesn’t pull it off the same here. His Basterds follow-up should have been a little more cutting edge and a little less superhero.
Some positive buzz on the movie: The Green Hornet and Kato do have good chemistry and do provide some chuckles. He’s not at edgy as he was in say Pineapple Express or Knocked Up, but fans of Seth Rogen’s caffeinated smart ass persona will appreciate it (Rogen also co-wrote the movie and is one of its executive producers. He has a track record of knowing what his fans like). The duo’s cars – including the souped-up “Black Beauty” – are a lot of fun. And the fights – headlined by Chou – are pretty cool, particularly one that’s more reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau and his Kato.
So maybe The Green Hornet could do well. Comic book fans haven’t had high expectations of this movie for years, so its flaws may not disappoint. It’s a superhero movie in January so they don’t have to wait until summer for Green Lantern. Ultimately though, I suspect the movie’s bottom line will be best served by its title. In the months to come, it will be on shelves next to Green Lantern – and could be an impulse buy.
The Green Hornet on MovieJungle.com:
CAST & CREW:
Starring: Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Edward Furlong, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos, Chad Coleman, David Harbour, Analeigh Tipton, Eddie Rouse
Directed By: Michel Gondry
Written By: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen. Created by Fran Striker, George Trendle
Produced By: Neil H. Moritz
Genre/s: Action Crime Adventure
Release Date/s: January 14, 2011 (Showtimes, Tickets)
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Production Company: Original Film
Official Site: Visit The Green Hornet Official Site
MORE ON THIS RELEASE:
Running Time: 108
M.P.A.A. Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.
Filming Locations: California, USA
Format: 1.44 : 1