First blockbuster of the year is this, The Green Hornet, an adaptation of the cult pulp superhero who started life as a radio character in the 30s and then blossomed into a TV show in the 60s. Now it has been turned to a big screen, blockbuster adventure directed by French filmmaker Michel Gondry with Seth Rogen in the lead role as well writing the screenplay with Superbad colleague Evan Goldberg.
It tells the tale of Britt Reid, the son of a wealthy newspaper tycoon, who inherits the family fortune when his father passes on. Reid then teams up with his father’s assistant Kato, who is an incredible martial artist and techically very adept, and begins to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a superhero. Together they must take down Chudnofsky, the evil crimelord who is taking over the city’s underworld.
For some people the expectation will be rather high, especially for the fans who will have been longing to see the masked superhero on screen and there are some fairly impressive credentials behind it. Especially the fact that Michel Gondry is behind the camera, he is a very accomplished filmmaker and a wonderful visual stylist, being one of the very few filmmakers still working (Christopher Nolan included) who does as much effects work in camera as possible. While his films are always stunning they are always matched by a terrific storyline and set of characters and this came together beautifully in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
There is also the much loved writer/comedian Seth Rogen, who many people consider to be a really funny guy, involved and is probably the perfect person to try to attempt making a superhero movie that doesn’t take itself seriously and is more of a comedy than a drama. Also we have Christoph Waltz hot from his inspired turn in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as the evil villain and is an incredibly enigmatic and enjoyable screen presence. So why has this film turned out to be a complete and utter dud?
First off I couldn’t tell it was a Michel Gondry movie from a hole in the ground. The film has been in development for a very long time so this is not a film Gondry has been attached to but rather one of the studio’s last resorts who has been brought in to do essentially a very cookie cutter job. If the desire of the makers was to make something unique and fresh, the sensible thing to have done would have been to let Michel Gondry tke it over and make it ‘a Michel Gondry film’ instead of a film that Gondry has just happened to have made. Plus because it’s in 3D, a late in the day post production conversion retro fitted hack job 3D too, a lot of Gondry’s usually weighty effects work just ends up as weightless and entirely uninvolving CGI.
Secondly, the creators and supporters of The Green Hornet are saying that it is a break from the superhero films nowadays which take themselves too seriously and that it is something light hearted and refreshing. Well the last time we had that there was Iron Man, and that was genuinely a bright, colourful enjoyable film that was a good counter balance to the bold nihilism of The Dark Knight. The Green Hornet is doing nothing original here and is not funny, it has none of the razor wit of the Iron Man movies.
As mentioned, it is co-written by Evan Goldberg, who had in a hand in the writing of Superbad and the characters talk in that similar kind of annoying, frat house, Judd Apatow-esque way which is spewed from the mouths of middle aged, scriptwriters who really should know better.
Rogen as a screenwriter supplies himself as the lead character with far too many endless scenes of supposed comedy which allow him to attempt to steal the show. Comedians when acting should always be reigned in because this film is final proof that when allowed to do what they want, they will take their cameras and scripts and crawl up their own backsides.
If there is any rest bite to be had in the film it is that Christoph Waltz is fairly entertaining as the villain. It is a completely uninspired turn, he is playing the same role he did in Inglourious Basterds only this time he’s a bit more camp and has got a beard. He’s entertaining enough, pulling a piece of Jack Nicholson scene stealing trickery, but this is not an example of range for him as an actor. After he won the Oscar (very deservedly so) he could’ve done anything, he could have chosen any project and he chose this. Which begs the question, what the hell were you thinking?
In fact what was everyone thinking? Everyone involved in this project really should have known better. It just smells of sell out by both a talented director and a very well liked comedian/actor trying to boost themselves up the ladder to make more money. More power to them, but next time try to make something worth the charge of viewing and the 3D on top.
The whole film feels fairly self indulgent on Seth Rogen's part. It's rather dull and quite a letdown.