The classic radio play come cult TV show makes its way to the big screen with a gleeful bang.
The classic radio play come cult TV show makes its
way to the big screen with a gleeful bang.
Although we live
in a world were it is rare to go to the cinema and not find a super hero
gracing the screen The Green Hornet looked destined to never make it there. On
the surface the material is ripe for the picking. Based on a 1930s radio play,
before becoming the TV show in the 1960s that helped launch the mainstream
career of Bruce Lee, The Green
Hornet is essentially a camper version of Batman. However, the film has been
through more face-lifts than Joan Rivers. At various points the likes of George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and Vince
Vaughn were all attached to the titular role. So when it was announced that
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
director Michel Gondry would bring
his unique brand of cinema to the adventure hopes were well and truly raised.
But after all that hoopla does it live up to its billing?
When his father
dies Britt Reid (Rogen) inherits his
father’s newspaper The Sentinel. Determined to fight the escalating crime in
Los Angels, Reid teams up with his father’s mechanic Kato (Chou) to bring down ruthless crime lord Chudnofsky (Waltz). The only problem is that Reid
is a bumbling buffoon who knows little of crime fighting, thankfully Kato is a
kung-fu master and together they form an unlikely double act.
With Gondry at
the helm and Rogen, and writing partner Evan
Goldberg, on scribing duties The Green Hornet is a super hero movie more in
the vein of Kick Ass than The Dark Knight. In fact like Kick Ass
much of the fun is had at the expense of the protagonist trying to play super
hero while those around, Kato is like Kick Ass’ Hit Girl, do much of the work but take little credit. This plays
perfectly to Rogen and Evan’s Bromance mannerisms. It does not hit the highs of
their previous effort Super Bad (2007),
and at times the Frat Boy jokes grow thin, but it is a fresh take on the genre
and one that could have been taken further.
Having said this
the plot does unfold like a script written by committee with Rogen and
Goldberg’s more crass sense of humour reigned in for the censors. Thankfully
when the action kicks in The Green Hornet is able to fly. Although Gondry does
not utilize his normal in-camera trickery his stamp is still apparent in the
action sequences. When he and Chou are let off their leash the film explodes
with delightful over the top action.
With this in mind
Gondry hints at the 60s style of the TV show with some retro effects. One
highlight sees Kato view things in slow motion and is able to pinpoint
potentially lethal weapons through is ‘Kato Vision’. Add to this The Green
Hornet’s car, ‘The Black Beauty’, being more kitted out than anything 007 could
dream up and the film is never short of inventive frolics.
If there is one
bum note it is Rogen’s performance. Normally happy to play the frumpy sidekick
here he fails to sell as the lead. Despite losing a substantial amount of
weight for the role he comes across as an unpleasantly smug brat who is hard to
sympathize with. Thankfully the rest of the cast is on hand to distract. Diaz
plays against her normal ditz to good effect as Reid’s new secretary who is
clearly too qualified for the role. Waltz is on fun, if less menacing, form as
the King-pin with an image complex. There are some fun cameos, notably from James Franco and Edward Furlong, but it is Chou who really sells the film. Although
his English is often broken his on screen charm is undeniable and when his
fists begin to fly you feel he is a worthy successor to the legendary Lee.
The plot is all
over the place but that does not stop both the cast and audience having a
mindless bit of fun. This Green Hornet might not pack a real sting but it does
more than just buzz.