New "Green Hornet" movie doesn't fly
Despite a popular brand, director, screenwriting team and cast, "Green Hornet" couldn't be saved from crashing into a big mess.
The new "Green Hornet" movie brings together almost a dream team of elements - a popular pedigree, a standout director, a screenwriting team that's written some quality films, and even a highly likable cast.
Unfortunately, all of these elements add up to only a very small fraction of the sum of their parts. The movie's just a huge mess.
Michel Gondry, who made the best American film of the 2000s thus far ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") is the director, Seth Rogen is the titular star and also wrote the movie, along with writing partner Evan Goldberg (the two co-wrote "Superbad").
The Green Hornet character began life as part of radio serials in the 1930s, but is best known as a 1960s TV show.
In the new movie, Rogen is the Hornet, as well as his alter ego Britt Reid (not to be confused with the drug-dealing Andy Reid son of the same name.) Another ne'er-do-well son of a powerful man Reid, following the death of his newspaper baron father (Tom Wilkinson) teams up with his dad's renaissance man of an ex-servant Kato (Jay Chou) to go out and harass criminals - thereby becoming accidental superheroes.
It sounds like a strong combination, but "The Green Hornet" ultimately falls apart due to problems big and small.
The plot is silly and inconsequential, and the "comedy" is never funny. Gondry uses none of his directorial strengths and the action sequences are weak and lifeless. The 3-D is unimpressive and disappears from the movie for long stretches. And the only standout 3-D sequence is the closing credits, which are also the only time in the movie that we get to hear Al Hirt's great theme song.
But the biggest problem of all is Rogen himself and his portrayal of the character. Not only does Kato provide all the smarts, talent and expertise and do all the work, but Britt is just plain a despicable character - and he's not even despicable in an edgy or interesting way. He's a whiny, over - entitled jerk, and even his inevitable redemption comes too late and too short.
I've always liked Rogen a lot but in this movie I hated his guts.
He and Kato also have no chemistry with each other, which is especially disappointing considering the writers of "Superbad" wrote this movie. And the less said about their love triangle with Cameron Diaz, who's a generation older than both men, the better.
There's also a ludicrous final action sequence set in a newsroom, in which one of the villains is seeking to stop the hero from exposing him by capturing a computer disk, and doing so by brandishing and occasionally shooting a gun.
You know what newsrooms are known for having in them? Reporters - you know, the kind of people who tend to notice such things and write about them. Not to mention, a shootout in the newsroom - complete with speeding cars and explosions - is probably an even bigger story than what's on that disk.
From the climactic battle on back, last year's "Kick-Ass" did everything much better.
Probably the only good thing in the movie is the villain, played by "Inglourious Basterds" Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.
He's venal, insecure about his age and whether or not he scares people, and he has a great scene at the beginning (with a cameoing James Franco) that feels like an outtake from a different, better movie.
At the screening I went to of "The Green Hornet," the audio at first was distorted to the point in which all of the dialogue made the characters sound like Cookie Monster.
They ended up turning it off and starting it over, but if they'd kept it going that way, the movie probably would've been much more entertaining.
"The Green Hornet"
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz
The Silver Screen rating: 1.5 stars (out of 5)