I don’t envy the people who have to reboot/remake old tv shows/comic books/superhero stories into movies. You run the risk of A) making everyone who is a fan of the original mad at you or B) just cashing in on a current trend and doing nothing original and losing a bunch of money. Luckily for the forces behind The Green Hornet, the only thing people remember about The Original Green Hornet TV Show is that Bruce Lee is fucking awesome. And… that’s about it.
The Story: Son-of-a-Billionaire Britt Reid (Rogan) gets help from servant/sidekick Kato (Chou) after sort of accidentally stumbling into being a vigilante. During the night they fight crime. during the day they… um… goof off?
The question going into The Green Hornet is what is it going to try to be? A comedy? An actioner? A comedy actioner? The answer is yes, sort of. The movie never really hits full stride the likes of other comedy actioners like True Lies or The Rundown. It just sort of is okay with taking a step in each direction, but not committing fully to it.
But that’s not to say what we get isn’t good. Plenty of character driven comedy and physical gags abound, as well as some pretty nifty action moments. Director Michel Gondry is known for his innovative visual style and it was nice to see him able to use that to enhance otherwise mandatory fight scenes into impressive ‘how’d-they-do-that’ scenes.
The highlight of the movie comes in the inevitable fight between the overbearing Britt and the all too willing Kato. They squabble a bit here and there in normal buddy fashion before getting into the real stuff. The Britt/Kato fight is great not only because of its crystal clear execution (we can actually tell what is going on!) but because of the power each punch packs. The fight is brutal and intimate but its also full of emotion which makes it the best of the movie.
As for the supporting cast, Cameron Diaz plays an okay love interest, Lenore Case. I admire writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg for not really making the love interest a huge part of the movie but here’s the thing: I would have rather had no love interest than a constantly failing one. I mean, a few rejection jokes are funny but after that the well really starts to run dry. Plus we’d much rather see the bonding moments of Britt/Kato than the failed flirting of Britt/Lenore.
And Christoph Waltz really has nothing to do the whole movie as Chudnofsky, criminal mastermind. He gets a few moments to do or say something cool (his gun is awesome), but ultimately his role is too average to stand out. I did like his turn halfway in but even then it was just sort of self referential and didn’t commit.
Speaking of not committing, the movie plays with the idea of posing as villains to fight villains and not fall into normal ‘hero goodness’ but it never really goes into it. It just tells us that a lot. Everyone thinks the Green Hornet is bad but we know he’s not. Okay… so what?
The end fight scene is good, but after getting all the super cool slow-motion and Kato speed/vision for the first couple of fights we go into normal gunplay territory. I kept wondering how they were going to lose the guns to give Kato a grand final fight scene to live up to the promises the first few offered. Turns out they didn’t, they gave that to Britt who suddenly has these powers as well just in time to save his friend/sidekick. I honestly liked when Britt did his little mini-sprint and got a chance to kick ass, but Kato is the real star of the fight scenes and deserved something grander.
Also, about halfway through the movie there is a scene where Chudnofsky tells his minions to spread word of The Green Hornet’s ransom. This scene starts of normally enough but then becomes the most intricate split screen I may have ever scene on film. Each screen section keeps dividing while seemlessly following its two subjects until the whole screen is equally divided. About halfway through the shot I said out loud “what the fuck?” in amazement. The guy in front and to the left of me looked back, unaware of the technical achievement he was witnessing or why I was so totally amazed.
In Conclusion: Its fun. Its exciting. Its what you hoped for. A good story with visually impressive fights that dazzle and awe. Its a “wanna-be super hero” movie that knows its place and gives us just that little bit extra.
Final Grade: B
PS oh yeah this movie is in like 3D or something I guess.