The Green Hornet arrived after a ton of negative buzz in the notorious mid-January cinematic dead zone and raked it in as the biggest box office moneymaker of the week. Based on the 1930s radio show and 60's TV series of the same name, The Green Hornet features Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, playboy heir to the publishing empire built by his father (Tom Wilkinson sleep-walking through his mean-old-dad routine). After dad croaks, party animal Reid inherits the newspaper company, teaming up with late dad's assistant and eventual sidekick Kato (Chinese pop star Jay Chou) to become a masked crime-fighting team. Their mission: to rid Los Angeles of a local crime czar (Christoph Waltz). Green Hornet is yet another tongue-in-cheek costumed crime-fighter, but neither Iron Man nor Hancock sunk as low as Rogen's tubby icon of idiocy.
Rogen wrote the screenplay with his frequent collaborator, Evan Goldberg (Superbad and Pineapple Express), and here the same old jokes are tired and fall flat. Rogen's spoiled brat shtick is a disaster. His character is immediately irritating and then continues to deteriorate rapidly while his unoriginal and predictable motor-mouth banter wears so thin that you can use it for saran wrap. Rogen's never ending running commentary is too annoying to be humorous. Let's face it, the bromance shtick has run its course.
Bruce Lee's shoes are hard to fill, but Chou has an interesting take on things. Chou is the only one who brings life to his character, but pitted against Rogen's non-stop yak fest, he doesn't stand a chance. By far the best scene is in the first few minutes when we see a short-lived uncredited cameo by James Franco and super-lame villain Chudnofksy (Waltz), who verbally duke it out in a crime boss stand off. The lack of a script for the rest of Waltz's (Inglorious Basterds) unfunny performance as a villain suffering through a mid-life crisis is astonishing. Waltz tries his damnedest, but the wretched material drags him down with it. And what's the deal with Academy Award winners and their super hero fixations? Halle Berry did Catwoman, Charlize Theron did Aeon Flux, even Phillip Seymour Hoffman did Mission Impossible 3. Now Waltz can join the ranks of statue winners who go on to suck. Cameron Diaz starts out with her ditzy grinning spiel and ends up in shorty-shorts as goofy secretary filler. Edward James Olmos as newspaper editor Axford safely just got old (some may remember him as the half-Asian origami-making agent in Blade Runner).
The flick has sharp colors and a comic book feel, but the awful script does nothing for the typically innovative director, Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep,Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Still, he seems to have a blast keeping a Kick-Ass sensibility without blood and minimal cursing. There are also some cool surreal Kato fighting sequences. The animated ending credits and the tricked-out Chrysler Imperial are the best parts. The 3D explosions, shattering glass and hurling metal don't even reach the theater seats. Shot with 2D cameras and transferred, it has the look of a View-Master, adding support to my belief that 3D is just a way to charge 13 bucks for movies that don't deliver.
From the bad dialogue and black masks to the green smoke and last spray of bullets, this is one tedious, joyless ride. Some extremely irritating things were: gratuitous Johnny Cash music just to be hip, playing the "I can't swim" sensitivity card and the use of the line "these guys are good" when getting pursued and shot at. Then there's the ridiculous fight scene between Kato and Britt where the 3D effects glaringly expose the obvious Rogen stunt double.
Green Hornet wastes no time in being stupid and fails to sustain any satisfying momentum. The film slogs on with elaborate gadgetry and crazy bombastic action, but after a huge array of comedic misfires, devolves into a numbing onslaught of raining bullets, car chases, fire and explosions. When it nears the end, instead of any kind of redeeming climax, the film becomes evenmore repellent and I seriously doubt that was its intention. I think the filmmakers think this movie is funny and clever - but it's neither.
The Green Hornet
Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron
Diaz, Cristoph Waltz, Edward James Olmos
Directed by Michel Gondry