Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Green Hornet [2011]

Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson
Genre: Superhero/Comedy
Rating: General
Comment: "While entertaining in many aspects, this Green Hornet is devoid of any sting whatsoever..."

Britt Reid, the hard-partying playboy son of a multimedia giant suddenly finds himself at loss upon the death of his father. However, after chance meeting with his father's multi-talented mechanic named Kato, Britt got back in touch with his long-lost childhood dream of fighting injustice. Together, the two of them embark on a quest of fighting crime in their city.

Using a sweet ride along with Kato's cool roundhouse kicks to get the job done...
What to Expect
1. Seth Rogen's trademark for subtlety in his comedic performance.
2. Michel Gondry's flair for clever visuals.
3. Predictability of its storyline.
4. Just reckless superhero movie fun.
5. Christoph Waltz humourous take on a villainous character.
6. Some flattering Bruce Lee references.

What NOT to Expect
1. Michel Gondry's trademark use of physical special effects.
2. Jay Chou to hold a candle to Bruce Lee, or even act.
Alright, so nobody expected The Green Hornet to be groundbreaking, with movies like The Dark Knight [2008] and Watchmen [2009] raising the bar so high, it's a little discouraging to even try. In fact, you can even say that the movie almost addressed the issue by not taking itself too seriously to begin with.

How do you take Seth Rogen and Jay Chou seriously, anyway?
From there it's just some good ol' superhero movie fun.

Too bad that's pretty much all there is to it. But what  truly came as a surprise is the lack of Michel Gondry-ness in this Michel Gondry directed movie. Forget what you saw in the likes of The Science of Sleep [2006], Be Kind Rewind [2008], or any music videos directed by him, like this very memorable Foo Fighters music video for Everlong, there was nothing of the sort in The Green Hornet. What we got instead was plenty of CGI work, so I was wrong to think that we could potentially be seeing some cool old school stunt work combined with Michel Gondry's trademark visual style.

But it wasn't a total loss. Don't get me wrong, the cinematography and camera work are still relatively awesome, it just wasn't what we would come to expect from Michel Gondry.

The characters were simply lovely especially the villain, played by Christoph Waltz. This time around he shed his Nazi attire (The one he wore for Inglourious Basterds [2010]) for a... Well, a bulk of the appeal to his character was his traditional villain work ethics not being able to transition very well to modern times. This became a running joke throughout the movie, a good example would be the very adorable exchange in the beginning of the movie where James Franco makes a cameo as a big-shot meth dealer.

He's a real threat, he just doesn't know how to make people see it...
Another fun thing about the movie is the abundance of references to the martial arts legend Bruce Lee. It's widely-known that it was originally Bruce Lee who played Kato for the short-lived The Green Hornet television series back in the 60's. This movie sought to pay homage to him by "subtly" incorporating images of Bruce Lee and also by having Jay Chou perform some of Bruce Lee's best known moves.

Like all the sweet kicks and especially the one-inch punch...
Add all that up, I don't know what we're supposed to get from all of it. I don't even know if the material was strong enough to even earn it a sequel. While I understand that it was never meant to be taken seriously to begin with - which is a sharp contrast to the rather serious undertone of its television series - it was all good but ultimately a forgettable action flick.

I give this movie a generous B-

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