16 January 2011

The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet

Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Edward James Olmos, David Harbou. Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Directed by David Gondry. Release: 14 January 2010. Original Film, 108 mins, Rated PG-13

Plot: Billionaire playboy Britt Reid (Rogen) takes up the mantle of The Green Hornet, under the guise of a villain meant to infiltrate and destroy corruption in the city, after the passing of his father.

Well, now ain't that surprising. THE GREEN HORNET is one hell of an awesome movie. I really, truly mean that. And this is coming from a dude who had some reservations. I mean, c'mon, Seth Rogen as our hero? The guy who has a obnoxious laugh and plays a stoner in nearly every movie he's in? Plus, the initial trailers didn't really sell the title. Nonetheless, my interest was peaked enough, and for the love of the superhero genre, I'm glad I saw it. Thanks to a really good script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, a statement I thought I'd never say about those two, GREEN HORNET hits all the necessary hero tropes but somehow miraculously comes off not only as entertaining and fun, but also fresh. The story goes places I didn't expect, and the overall arc of the story and characters was far more dimensional and human-based than anyone would probably give Rogen and Goldberg credit for. First, let me specify: GREEN HORNET isn't good based simply on the merits of Rogen's talents, but because it's generally good as a hero movie. I became invested, I laughed, I was awed, I was trippin', and I was ready for a second helping. Now how about that for a selling point? I went into the screening with major reservations, and left wanting more.

The film opens (post-flashback sequence with a young Britt and father) with Christoph Waltzs' Benjamin Chudnofsky arriving at a local joint where the city's big mob boss is staying, and Chudnofsky, after having to recite his apparently difficult-to-pronounce name for the boss (a brilliant cameo from James Franco), tells him he needs to close up shop. This scene pretty much epitomizes the entire movie. Either because of the rather great script by Rogen and Goldberg, James Franco goes off on a Tarantino-esque monologue/tangent that had me smiling the whole time. And Christoph, nicely echoing his previous BASTERDS performance, portrays Chudnofsky as a seemingly innocuous and nonthreatening man who doesn't seem to have the gusto to kill you until ya realize he just blew two bullets through your body. He's like a more reserved and tad less crazy Joker. This opening conveys all the elements of the movie: a serious yet quasi-slapstick tone; a intelligently written script; cameos; and awesome performances.

As Britt Reid/Green Hornet, Seth Rogen is solid, and I dig his work here. On the downside, when he's the Britt Reid persona, he's very much like you expect Seth Rogen to act in a movie, but when he dons the Green Hornet outfit, it's like the action hero in him bursts out and he's ready to kick some major ass. So yes, he sells it. Jay Chou is great fun as Reid's friend and sidekick Kato, given many of the really funny lines and awesome martial arts scenes. Really, his only downfall is his wavery grasp of English, making his dialogue occasionally a mumbled mess. Cameron Diaz comes out of nowhere midway through the film, seemingly present just to add a potential love interest for Britt, but as the film continues her rather important function to the plot becomes more realized. And Christoph Waltz gives yet another superb performance, selling even the most insane lines of dialogue and crafting a unique and highly entertaining character to boot. With the great combination of a wise script and gifted actors on the payroll, that alone is kudos enough. Plus, the presence of Tom Wilkinson just sorta solidifies the movie's awesomeness. Wilkinson is one of my personal favorites, so whenever he's in a flick, it sorta gives it a unofficial Seal of Approval, and he doesn't disappoint. Except his role is basically 3 minutes of screentime, which is sad.

If one were to compare this to other comic book movies, I'll say that GREEN HORNET is far, far superior to ELEKTRA and DAREDEVIL. And keep in mind I'm just making that comparison between those two films seem to be the most commonly used examples when people are dissing HORNET. It's the IRON MAN to BATMAN BEGINS, in a way. The cinematic quality of Jon Favreau with that exact same tone (minus Downey) with the aspiration to hold such complex themes and elements of Nolan's masterpiece(s). By all means, GREEN HORNET was an awesome movie, and I highly recommend a watch. Dunno if the 3-D element is worth it, but for what it's worth, I was quite content with my 2-D screening.

I dug it. May not be for everyone, as a majority of online reviews indicate (as well as fellow LAMB members), but for me, it exceeded expectations and actually became a movie that was fun and entertaining. With the original 70's SUPERMAN, the press was that you'll believe "a man can fly." Well, in the case of GREEN HORNET, you will believe "Seth Rogen can really, truly be a good lead in a hero movie." C'mon, it's not he could be any worse than Affleck, yea?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While The Green Hornet is a passable time killer, film lovers might go into shock that such an unremarkable piece of Hollywood mulch was helmed by French whiz kid Michel Gondry. I wish there was more here, but it was an OK popcorn treat. Good review, check out mine when you can!