USA 2010 Directed by: Michel Gondry Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg Based on The Green Hornet by: George W. Trendle, Fran Striker Produced by: Neal H. Moritz Cinematography by: John Schwartzman Editing by: Michael Tronick Music by: James Newton Howard Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, Edward Furlong, Analeigh Tipton, David Harbour, James Franco
THE GREEN HORNET is built around three main premises. First of all, that James Reid is some sort of ass and that Britt Reid is the good guy, what is important for him becoming a credible superhero. Secondly, the friendship or companionship between Britt and Kato: the Green Hornet is essentially a duo, as none of the two can be without the other. Third of all, a strong adversary causing necessary conflict as well as the need for a new superhero in the first place.
Now, THE GREEN HORNET clearly runs into trouble after a few minutes. Take the father-son relationship to begin with: it doesn’t occur to me how anyone can believe that the father is an ass and Britt is the good guy. Clearly, the father is right about everything he does, says or demands from Britt. Britt Reid however is a loser, a guy with no goal in life or motivation, a parasite, pretty much the Paris Hilton of the Reid clan, minus the fragrance and fashion deals. In conclusion, the Britt Reid character as portrayed here is anything but likeable, and his transformation into an incapable hero doesn’t exactly change that first impression (also not after he and the audience learn that his father wasn’t as much of an ass as we all thought).
Then, the Britt-Kato thing doesn’t work out at all: I am amazed how little effort has been spent on clarifying their relationship in the first place. The story goes something like this: Britt fires most of his father’s staff after his untimely death, discovers that his coffee looks different one morning, asks for the guy who usually makes his coffee (Kato), and demands him to come back. So what could be more logical than Kato, a highly capable inventor and martial artist who doesn’t know Britt at all at this point, comes back right away to live happily ever after as chief barista of that couch potato? Once the first coffee is served, we all come to realize how great a guy Kato is and Britt convinces him, for no obvious reason, to become his sidekick. Again, who’d want to be the sidekick of a fat brat? Ouch. This is, without any doubt, some of the worst scriptwriting I have seen in a while.
Last but absolutely not least, the Chudnofsky character never develops into the great villain he could have been. Once again the script and its character development are a huge letdown, introducing Chudnofsky with verve and esprit in his first scene (which is also the only memorable scene of Christoph Waltz, unfortunately), only to dismantle the character quickly through an array of idiotic scenes, turning a potentially charismatic villain into a one-dimensional decal. I’d like to think that this is not Mr. Waltz’s fault, but that the actions and dialogue as defined by the script simply gave him little room to play that character any better than he has.
What makes things even worse is a range of further pitfalls, namely Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz. We all know that THE GREEN HORNET is first and foremost a Seth Rogen film now, and that shows (but not in the right way): as much as I like Mr. Rogen’s earlier work he tries to adapt the Green Hornet to Seth Rogen, instead of adopting his trademark character to the Green Hornet. The result is that Mr. Rogen’s interpretation of the Hornet makes the film look like a spoof, not the quirky hero-anti-hero tale it’s supposed to be. And there is a fine, but distinct line between a comedic vigilante movie and a spoof. THE GREEN HORNET however never gets it right.
Also not with the help of the ever-overacting Cameron Diaz who could come right from the set of THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. In fact, many of Ms. Diaz’ scenes seem like first takes, and that also goes for a considerable number of scenes throughout the film.
Altogether that makes for a mediocre movie, a viewing experience that is spoilt by frequent annoyances and incoherence throughout, an impression no punch line, action sequence or set piece can reverse. THE GREEN HORNET is like a high-speed train without a train driver, racing full-steam on the wrong track into the wrong direction from beginning to end, without ever looking back or noticing that about nothing is right and everything’s wrong.
THE GREEN HORNET acts big, but tanks big time. It aims to be larger-than-life entertainment, but ends up a record-breaking waste of budget and resources, one of the most remarkable cases ever seen in contemporary cinema. The only reason no one notices is because it makes money nevertheless.
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