Title: The Green Hornet (2011)
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz
So Gondry doing a commercial film, that’s what really called my attention towards this film. It wasn’t Seth Rogen or even The Green Hornet character because I was never that much into the character. I’d read a comic book or two, but basically all I knew about The Green Hornet was that Bruce Lee had been in the 1966 television show, that’s it. It was only later that I found out it had been a radio show in the 30’s. But Michel Gondry directing a commercial film? That was the real grabber for me because Gondry has never done what we would call a commercial film. Most of his films are always artsy films like Human Nature (2001), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The Science of Sleep (2006), and Be Kind Rewind (2008) all awesome movies on their own right, but big summer blockbusters they were not. So how did Gondry’s trip down Hollywood lane turn out?
Thats Gondry to the left. The Green Hornet and Kato from the 1966 television show on the right
I’d say it went pretty damn good. I mean, I was really curious about this film because it had many strange things going for it. Gondry directing a big budget flick like this one was a first, but that was something I was definitely willing to give a try. What caught me off guard was Seth Rogen playing the hero. In previous attempts at bringing The Green Hornet to cinematic life, actors like Mark Wahlberg, Vince Vaugh, George Clooney and Jake Gyllenhaal were considered for the role. Hell, even Eddie Murphy tried to play Britt at one point. Eventually, years and years passed and Rogen took an interest in the film and decided to write it and produce it himself. He also put himself in the lead role as the films hero. To me, that also went against type because what Hollywood normally does in superhero films is place a buffed up dude in the role of the hero, and Rogen is everything but that. Reportedly, Rogen lost 30 pounds to be on this movie, but he still didn’t come off as a muscle bound superhero. I don’t care about that though, I think he did just fine the way he is. Who says all heroes have to be muscle bound? And finally, another strange thing about the film was its tone, apparently according to the trailers; this was going to be a comedy. So The Green Hornet was definitely shaping up to be a film that was playing with our expectations of a comic book film. But what the hell, it looked like a fun time at the movies so I gave it a shot.
I’m glad I did. I mean, it delivered exactly what I was expecting: a fun lighthearted superhero film. Rogen plays Britt Reid. A millionaire, son to the head honcho of the local newspaper, ‘The Daily Sentinel’. When his father dies, suddenly Britt is faced with the responsibility of running the local newspaper. Problem is that Britt isn’t a very responsible person. He likes to party like its 1999, all the time! He doesn’t give a damn about the newspaper or how it is run. But that all changes one night when he and his trusty driver Kato manage to stop a robbery. It is then that he realizes that he has the power and the means with which to fight crime, so suddenly he has a change of heart and decides to do something worthwhile with his life. He will fight crime with his side kick Kato as the masked avenger known as The Green Hornet!
There’s a lot of good things I can say about this movie, number one, having Gondry as the director is major asset. Gondry was supposed to direct this film as his first feature film way back in 1997, when this film was first attempted. So in a way, Gondry had always been involved with this picture. The cool thing about Gondry is that he has always been known for using lots of visual gags on his films, and on this one he goes all out with this. Whenever The Green Hornet and Kato go out to kick some ass, there’s some sort of visual effect to keep things interesting, especially in the fight sequences. His visual trickery makes the film that much cooler to watch. In the film, Kato serves as the gadget maker for Britt. I mean, essentially, Kato is this genius inventor who can make anything! He turns Britt’s car into a mean crime fighting machine, equipped with machine guns and everything. He makes all the gadgets and the cars, plus he is a Kung Fu expert! And he can make a mean cup of coffee! So all of Kato’s gadgets (brought to life by Gondry’s visual trickery) make the film fun to watch. It was interesting seeing Gondry taking full advantage of CGI and 3-D as well. Speaking of the 3-D, I gots no complaints about that either.
The film’s themes are against political corruption, it deals with a politician who wants to use the local newspaper to boost his image in the publics’ eye by printing bullshit stories that make him look good. In this way increasing his chances of becoming President of the United States. The film has a very subversive nature to it because it addresses the power that the media has to manipulate how the masses perceive the world. I liked that about it. They really go into how a newspaper headline can change peoples perceptions of things. Put this or that in the headline and poof! that’s how people will see things. The Green Hornet is perceived as a villain, a vigilante out to take justice into his own hands. So the film also addresses how the media will often times portray the bad guys as the good guys, and the heroes as the villains, all to fit the political scheme of things. A bold statement for what is essentially a very lighthearted film.
And trust me, the film is lighthearted. It never gets too violent or graphic or anything. It keeps a fun vibe all through out. The dialog had me cracking up all the time. There is something about the characters, they come off as extremely likable. Rogen plays his character the way many of Gondry’s characters are portrayed in his films, like grown men with 12 year old sensibilities. Think about it, Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine and Gael Garcia Bernal in The Science of Sleep where grown men acting like children. Same thing happens here. Rogen sounds like a little kid most of the time. I’ve always liked that about Gondry’s films, his characters never loose that sense of child like amazement and wonderment. Kato comes off as a father figure to Britt, the big kid with the expensive toys. And speaking of Kato, he totally dominates this movie and often times comes off as more of a hero then Britt does. So this is the kind of movie where the hero isn’t all that perfect and awesome, he is flawed. Most of the time he ends up getting his ass saved by Kato, his sidekick. Kind of like how you felt that Kick-Ass (2010) was more about Hit Girl then Kick-Ass himself, that’s how this movie plays out.
But considering how much money The Green Hornet is making, we might get to see the character grow into a full blown hero in future films. I’m thinking the purposely made him out to be a goof ball, because like Kick-Ass, he is just learning how to become a hero. The Green Hornet aint gonna change your life or nothing, but it will entertain ya pretty well for an hour and a half!
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5