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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘The Green Hornet’ plays hero but falls short

    The Green Hornet
    The Green Hornet

    “”The Green Hornet”” has the attitude and dialogue of boys who love comic books and cool gadgets, and are just starting to discover girls. In an effort to have this pulp hero from 1936 make sense and be more relatable 75 years later, the movie often stumbles over itself and comes off as awkward as preteen boys.

    Seth Rogen plays Britt Reid, who wanted to grow up to be a hero to people. He stands to inherit a successful newspaper empire from his father, who sees his son as a dreamer and a hedonist. Britt spends his nights trashing hotel rooms and his mornings trying to remember who is sleeping next to him. His father dies from an apparent allergic reaction to a bee sting while smelling the roses, and Britt cannot withstand the burden of his father’s reputation and legacy.

    The day after his father’s funeral, Reid notices his superb morning latte tastes awful. This leads to a meeting with Kato (Jay Chou), one of his father’s servants who seems to not only be proficient at making espresso and espresso machines, but also a master of martial arts, chemical weapons, and customized crime-fighting cars. They talk while getting drunk and then decide to play hero in a city where the crime rate is supposedly dropping.

    Rogen is all over “”The Green Hornet””: In addition to playing Reid, he is also an executive producer and a co-writer. While that proved to be a winning approach in his previous movies “”Pineapple Express”” and “”Superbad,”” it doesn’t quite help here. That there is a man-child sense of wonder and amazement at how awesome everything the duo is doing throughout the movie can either be annoying or fun to watch.

    Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg, who also helped co-write “”Pineapple Express”” and “”Superbad,”” are cheekily aware of how goofy the original character and certain action movie conventions can be. Reid and Kato both try to win the affections of Cameron Diaz’s Lenore Case. Their total misread of her actions lead to a funny payoff late in the movie. Christoph Waltz politely nibbles on each of his scenes as the composed, old-fashioned crime lord of vague Eastern European origins who seems to be suffering a mid-life identity crisis.

    Michel Gondry took on directing duties for “”The Green Hornet”” and his influence can be seen in the movie’s fascination with fanciful gadgets, especially with a custom-made espresso machine that merited two montage scenes. The Green Hornet and Kato get the Black Beauty, which is outfitted, of all things, with a vinyl record player in the backseat and the standard hero armaments of machine guns, missiles and beanbag bullets — all homemade, of course.

    As if the gadgets weren’t enough, the fight scenes employ “”Kato Vision”” where time slows down to a snail’s pace and a situation is quickly analyzed to the hero’s advantage. It’s amazing to watch, especially in 3-D. (Of course, there is a scene late in the movie that mocks this effect as well.)

     

    Given that “”The Green Hornet”” depends heavily on the relationship between Reid and Kato, some early reviews found the chemistry between Rogen and Chou to be lacking. With Reid portrayed as a sheltered person and Kato as a seeming super genius in anti-crime gear, Rogen and Chou are able to convey their gawky partnership through back-and-forth dialogue that works more often than not.

    Seeing “”The Green Hornet”” in 3-D can be rather disappointing. There are some car chase scenes where bullet shells fly toward to the audience, and the 3-D effects can make some of the nicely choreographed fight scenes pop out so that audience members can feel as if they are in the thick of it. But these still don’t justify the ticket cost. With his amazing work with sets, it’s surprising that Gondry wasn’t able to make 3-D work in “”The Green Hornet.””

    Trying to appease fans while reaching a larger audience with an established character can be a great challenge. (Just ask writer-director Kevin Smith, whose rejected script for this remake was instead adapted into a comic book series last year). It’s a shame Rogen couldn’t meet that challenge with “”The Green Hornet.””

    Grade: C+

     

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