DIR: Michel Gondry • WRI: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg • PRO: Neal H. Moritz • DOP: John Schwartzman • ED: Michael Tronick • DES: Owen Paterson • CAST: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz
Nothing elicited more excitement and anticipation of The Green Hornet more than Michel Gondry’s attachment to the project, raising hopes of a tongue-in-cheek action hero dealt with artistically and amusingly. Promos for the film diluted the enthusiasm somewhat, showing a hackneyed script and predictable story arc, and previews were proving less than amazing. After many, many revisions to the release date, The Green Hornet finally arrives to our shores a little bit late, and a little bit anticlimactically. Despite the addition of 3D, at great expense and delay, it proves itself to be little more than a slightly-funnier Spiderman, and a less action-packed Batman.
Seth Rogan is to blame for quite a lot of the film’s inadequacies. Despite slimming down and buffing up for the role, he is still, essentially, portraying the same character he has been playing since his erstwhile chubby face first graced our screens. Throwing in a bromedy relationship (or perhaps a ‘bromance’ – who can keep up with America’s obsession with ‘bro’ anything!) with his valet, Kato (Jay Chou), does little to alleviate the sinking suspicion that Rogan is making no effort to move outside his comfort zone. Cameron Diaz arrives onboard playing her standard role of ‘object of all men’s desires’ and it’s palpably obvious that even she has become bored with this duty – her comedy quips and sultry pouts are becoming just a little bit forced. Half-transporting the story of the Green Hornet from 1930s America to modern-day LA hammers another nail in the coffin of believability and adaptability. Add to this a script that is just that little too much self-aware, and the result is a middling movie that raises itself above average far too few times in its not inconsiderable running-time.
The story is loose enough, and for those who know the Green Hornet, dutifully aligned with the original idea – i.e. Britt Reid (Rogan) becomes a masked vigilante after the death of his media-emperor father, along with his kung-fu and techno-whizz chauffeur Kato. In this day and age of constant superhero adaptation, however, even the ‘twist’ of the Hornet instigating himself as a criminal, in order to infiltrate the underworld more effectively, falls on numbed and deadened ears. Held against the beautiful shadows of The Dark Knight, or even the action-packed pace of Spider-Man 2, it falls short of giving this decade a superhero to hold on to. Even casting the fantastic Christoph Waltz – one of the most enjoyable Nazi’s ever onscreen – as LA’s super villain fails to live up to standard, as the banality curse falls upon him as much as on Rogan.
Despite its many, many flaws, however, The Green Hornet manages to be entertaining at a level enjoyable to younger viewers. Kids will lap up the action scenes and Chou’s energetic kung-fu – though for adults, it will always be compared to Bruce Lee’s turn as Kato in the television series. Children are also less likely to be so weary of seeing Seth Rogan bumble and mumble little ‘comic’ asides at every opportunity – a tactic he has been employing in the mistaken assumption that it makes him more cuddly and likeable. An out-and-out kid’s movie, The Green Hornet fails to excite beyond that level, and though not a torturous event to sit through with younger filmgoers, it falls too far short of being consummately entertaining.