Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Green Hornet

Hi everyone! So the last night I went to see "The Green Hornet" which stars Seth (stoner) Rogan as the masked hero and Jay Chou as his loyal manservant/crime fighting comrade. The character, whose pulp origins date all the way back to a 40's era radio program was later adapted into a live action television series in the 60s which co-starred a young Bruce Lee as Kato. Knowing this, the filmmakers try and pay homage to what has come before by incorporating some of what I'm guessing is the old t.v. series' theme music and a clever Bruce Lee reference while still attempting to be fresh and hip for a new generation. Does it succeed? Umm, kind of but not really.
Seth Rogan plays Britt Reid, whose exploits as a lazy, irresponsible, party loving socialite are an embarrassment to his cold and distant, newspaper mogul father who detests having to publish his son's latest nightly excursions along with the paper's more serious hard boiled news. Then, seemingly out of the blue, the elder Reid is killed from an allergic reaction to a bee sting and young Britt is handed the reigns of a media empire he wants nothing to do with and hasn't the slightest idea of how to run. Longing for someone to confide in, Reid befriends Kato, a longtime employee of the family who worked on his father's cars and fixed his morning brew. A man of many talents, Kato shows Reid the 007 like modifications he built into his father's cars including completely bulletproof siding and razor sharp, lance like protrusions that extend from the tires reminiscent of famous chariot scene in Ben Hurr. Commiserating over tales of mistreatment at the hands of Reid Senior, the two soon indulge in one to many shots of liquor and decide to spite the elder Reid's ghost by taking out one of his prized cars for a joyride, a decision which has untold consequences as the two come across a mugging in progress and spring to the aid of the young victims. During this scene we are introduced to the idea of "Kato vision," in which the young mechanic/barrista/martial arts extraordinaire (I know, just go with it) figuratively slows down time in his mind's eye and, like a physical game of chess, methodically chooses the most efficient way to incapacitate an adversary. This stylistic touch is pretty cool at first but quickly becomes redundant especially in light of similar approaches that have been done before (The Matrix, Sherlock Holmes, etc.) and detracts from what ought to be the chaotic, unpredictable nature of the fight.
After narrowly escaping from the Police who mistake them for criminals, the two retreat back to Britt's mansion were, jacked on adrenaline, Britt proposes they pursue crime fighting as a nightly profession and, in a twist on the classic superhero ideal, secretly pose as bad guys to trick the villains into a false sense of trust and taking them out one by one. Using his influence as the new CEO of the family newspaper "The Sentinel" to his advantage, Britt dubs the new crime lord "The Green Bee," which is quickly altered to the more menacing sounding "The Green Hornet" and build his own legend by publishing his exploits on the front page of the paper.
The rest of the movie plays out in an eye roll inducing ride of bad jokes, crude humor, and cartoonish action scenes as Britt and Kato take on organized crime in the form of Chudnofsky, an unlikely looking crime boss with a sweet, two headed handgun and a very big Napoleon complex, and political corruption in the form of a sleazy D.A. who may have had a hand in Britt's father's death.
For what it is, a lighthearted buddy comedy with a superhero twist, The Green Hornet manages to be fun despite its over the top silliness and frequent displays of immaturity. It's obvious the scrip was specifically tailored to fit Seth Rogan's comic sensibilities as an actor and doesn't bother to strive for much more which is unfortunate seeing as how I hoped that Britt would progress from being an immature buffoon into something roughly resembling a hero by the end but such a character arc was apparently beyond the very limited scope of the film's aspirations.
In closing, I would sum up "The Green Hornet" as being a charming yet ultimately disposable bit of entertainment who's "sting" is sure to be very short lived especially with the guarantee of far more fulfilling comic book based movies just off the horizon.


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