My Ten Cents On: The Green Hornet

Green Hornet: "Batman, Surely, you can't be serious!" Batman: "I am serious, and don't call my sidekick Shirley."

In January 1966, there stood out a TV series about two masked vigilantes, one with an animal theme, who drove around the city in a technologically advanced vehicle fighting off several themed villains. That show was of course… Batman. On a couple of those episodes, the TV show crossed over with another duo of masked vigilantes, one with an animal theme, who drove around the city in a technologically advanced vehicle fighting off several themed villains, The Green Hornet and his trusty kick-butt sidekick, Kato.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Batman copied The Green Hornet! I mean, since the creation of the Green Hornet actually predates Batman by three years, we’re all thinking the same thing, right? They do have similarities, as I listed above, but those are the only similarities they have. The Green Hornet was a radio drama, and Batman was a comic, not to mention their characters are a far cry from one another. So… for the sake of this review, its not gonna be cool to compare Batman to the Green Hornet, agreed?

Anyway, not that I have defined my terms, that Green Hornet is not equal to parody of Batman, I can begin to talk about the movie. I wasn’t expecting much from a movie that had Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, and the Chinese Timberlake himself, Jay Chou, nor was I blown away by the trailer. And maybe it WAS the low expectations I had as I walked into the theater, but I found myself enjoying the movie. So unless you want to read the synopsis here, we shall embark on the dissection of this viridian vespine.

+ Christoph Waltz

"Oh my gosh, Christoph! You were invited to do Green Hornet?! You have to do Green Hornet! You owe me for killing thousands of my kin in WWII!"

I didn’t mention earlier, but the villain, Chadnofsky, is played by the always amazing Christoph Waltz, my personal pick for 2010’s BEST ACTOR. PERIOD. for his role as Col. Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. Here he plays a crime lord, who is having a twilight crisis (while I’m sure he’s torn between Jacob and Edward like we all are, that’s not what I mean), that is to say, struggling with becoming old and  the thought of losing his power to younger upstart criminals.

While the character, in my opinion, wasn’t written at all that well, Waltz was able to take this turd and make it shine (it can happen, the Mythbusters have proven it!).  I mean, I don’t know why after winning an Oscar, he chooses this role, maybe he was forced to do it? Whatever the case, the man did an amazing job showing a gangster who is powerful, yet fragile. This, in a Seth Rogen movie, I know. But it made me smile to have such a villain in the film. Leave it to Christoph to become a character who is controlling, yet funny, with a touch of sadness and longing.

And so we jump back to my theory, that any action movie is enjoyable as long as it has a good villain, and this is no exception, in my opinion.

+/- Seth Rogen

I’ll admit it this time, the guy made me laugh. I mean he makes it as a plus just barely for me, because he does get really REALLY annoying, but he did make me laugh, so that’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for most people. Its not like he’s gunning for an Oscar, right?

*EDIT* yeah, watched it a second time, he got annoying. I guess its coz I was in a good mood with friends the first time I watched so I enjoyed his performance kinda.

+ The Atmosphere

This movie isn’t trying to be cool, awesome 1940’s Green Hornet, its trying to be campy, funny 1960’s Green Hornet, and if that’s how you view it coming into the movie house, then it’ll be alright. The movie’s light-hearted, fun, and the whole film is meant to do that. Not philosophical Christopher Nolan here, just good old-fashioned camp.

+ The super-mega fantastic awesome montage of awesome!!

There is one scene in particular that I MUST mention. In one scene Chadnofsky calls upon everyone he knows and tells them that there is a million dollar bounty on the Green Hornet’s head. He tells one of his henchmen, who goes into a parlor after. As he talks to a couple of Asian assassins there and a line begins to draw itself down the center of the screen. When it finishes the camera on one side follows the man, and the one on the other follows the Asian assassins. This pattern continues as they spread the word of the bounty on the Green Hornet’s head. This montage alone is worth price of admission! (well, in 2-D at least, but I’ll get into that later)

Well, we all knew this movie wasn’t going to score any Oscars, so the following break down won’t be too surprising.

– Kato and the man under the mask

"I really hope Kumar doesn't see me in this."

For those of you who don’t know, Kato was the Hollywood break-out role of a young martial artist named Bruce Lee. And as such, his character practically has more significance than  the Green Hornet to popular culture.  Which is why they blew Kato out of proportion in this movie. In the original series, he was the Hornet’s body guard, and driver. Now, being played by Jay Chou (who looks like John Cho, A.K.A. Harold), he’s just super human! He does everything for the crime-fighting duo, he’s a mechanic who made the car, he’s as fast as the flash, and he sings too, rendering the Green Hornet’s character simply secondary in nature, because he really doesn’t do much. They also spent so much time on showing Kato Karate chopping the caps off of beer bottles, that they didn’t give him a proper motivation to join Hornet on is adventure, let alone become his friend. It just happens in a snap, and the rest of it is simply stunt work and CGI.

Aside from that, they made so many references to Bruce Lee, it was irritating. I can tell you there are at least 5 different references to the guy. I mean, one is good enough. You don’t have to a) show drawings of him in a sketch book, b) have Kato practice Bruce Lee hand gestures in the car, or c) use CG to exaggerate Kato’s moves like “thats how a kick of Bruce Lee would feel”, or “that’s how Bruce Lee would break down a fight”. It kind of made the movie feel a bit desperate and cheap to be honest.

– Plot

The movie really skipped out on a lot of the motivating factors. Kato’s motivation was nonexistent, and even though the Hornet’s dad died, it was a very weak thread to think that he would suddenly become a super hero. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved that they made a superhero who starts out doing it for fun but develops a sense of responsibility along the way, and made it a comic take on the antihero sub-genre, but they could have executed it much better.

– 3-Defecation

So this is how China mass-produces cars...

So yeah, I have invented a new term, “3-Defecation“. This is when movies have scenes that are the cinematic equivalent to me waving my fingers in front of your face going “oooooooo… look I’m in threeee deeeeeeee.” We’ve all seen these shots. Its when time slows down and stuff comes swinging towards you as if  “popping out of the screen” (I would replace one of the “p’s” with an “o”). This is my archetypal shot for films that do this. And don’t tell me its old, look at the trailer of Resident Evil: Afterlife and tell me how many shots there are of people or things coming towards the camera, or how many slow-motion shots there are. 3-D destroys a lot of movies. It only works when people just make a movie that’ll be awesome 2-D in 3-D. Case in point, Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar and Toy Story 3.

This film is no exception. The fact that its in 3-D, people always have to make “special action scenes” with it. And it sucks, both in 3-D and in 2-D. I mean, they’re 3-Defecation made it look like Kato has the power to multiply cars by kicking. Really!

My Cent’s Worth: 5/10

It was okay. Only okay. It would have been horrible without Christoph Waltz, and that killer montage. Do I recommend it in 3-D? HECK NO. Waste of money, go watch somewhere else. Do I recommend it in 2-D? If with friends, why not?

If you’re looking for a good time, already in a good mood, and you’re not a die-hard fan of the Green Hornet radio serial, then I don’t think it’ll be too bad. But honestly, you won’t be missing half your life missing this movie though.

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Posted on January 29, 2011, in Film Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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