Movies / Comics Movie Reviews

The Comic Book Bin Reviews the Green Hornet


By Hervé St-Louis
Jan 23, 2011 - 18:21

After a night on the town partying with his former mechanic and butler Kato, Britt Reid decides that he wants to save people’s and become a super hero, the Green Hornet. But the Green Hornet attracts the ire of Los Angeles’ current crime boss Chudnofsky. Can Britt Reid, a rich kid without any kind of training fight crime by night and run a media empire by day?

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I had low expectations for this film. I mean, Seth Rogen is not super hero material. He’s just one step above Jack Black. I can tolerate Seth Rogen in a film but Jack Black, I can only tolerate if he’s playing a panda. Then, there’s Cameron Diaz that was cast as the love interest. She’s completely cougar material compared to Seth Rogen.  There was a good chance that this film would fall on it’s face. I’m a Green Hornet fan. I’ve got a lot of the comic books from the current series by Dynamic Publishing and from defunct Now Comics. The Green Hornet was created before Batman. He’s related somehow to the Lone Ranger although these days they are owned by different media empires. I had fun watching this film.

Seth Rogen is not super hero material and the movie completely played with that. No one doubts that he’s a slacker. This is Seth Rogen putting on a mask. The genius of the crime fighting team is all on Kato played by Chinese pop star Jay Chou. Kato is the mechanic, the martial arts expert, the chemistry expert. He’s the real talent here. The spotlight has always been on the Green Hornet, although comic book series by Now Comics and now Dynamic Publishing have tried to explain this slight. I personally never liked the angle of the personal butler who dedicates his life to the rich white guy. It always felt racist to me. This movie dealt with that issue and made Kato the right partner in this film. That’s an extraordinary work of cultural sensitivity. If you’re Asian, or specifically Chinese, you won’t feel insulted, I hope by the role played by Chou in this film. He’s the Green Hornet’s equal and more. They both compete for the same girl, but like in most things, Kato has the edge.

The villain Chudnofsky, was good enough. He played his part well, and it was funny to see his progress from a regular crime boss to a more colourful comic book villain. Speaking of comic book villain, I like the exaggerated deaths of all the villains in various scenes. All of them were over the top. If deaths were allowed in the 1960s Green Hornet television series which was played just one notch more seriously than the Batman and Robin television show, the villains would have died in weird contraptions, just like in this film.

This film was funny. The action was quite good. The costumes and the car, the Black Beauty, were great. I like the touches such as the how Kato and Reid sported the golden age variants of the Green Hornet and Kato costume in their first outing. I didn’t notice the Lone Ranger reference, although according to the credits, there was one. Cameron Diaz played her part even if they tried to pass her off as being 36. It  feels weird that Diaz started her Hollywood career playing the love interest of another super hero. Perhaps her range is limited. Or perhaps some casting director thought she would be a great Gwyneth Paltrow-like actress for the role. She’s slightly out of the limelight and older. Nevertheless, I liked her spunkiness in that film.

It would have been easy to make the film too dark and difficult to perceive the action because of the dark costumes the characters sport. That problem was completely avoided. The characters also looked decent in broad daylight. I watched the 3D version on the film, but skipped the IMAX release. I didn’t feel that having the film in 3D added anything to the choreography of Kato’s fights or to the excitement. It’s one of those films that could have done quite well without the 3D fad stamped on it.

I have to say something about Rogen’s work as a director and producer. Maybe it’s because he was personally involved with the film, but he really did a good job, although it would be hard for me to differentiate his character in the film from his public persona. Some things that I didn’t like were how he often was a jerk to Kato. I know it was part of the plot, but he could have done a better rescue of Kato in the swimming pool scene.

Comic book movies since the first Iron Man seem to have understood that humour can help sell a film and a over the top premise. The upcoming Green Lantern film seems to be following the same formula we saw with Iron Man, Kick Ass and now The green Hornet. While I’m always for a good chuckle, I wonder if they aren’t stretching the funny comic book too far. This film was built on this premise and could easily have flopped if the directors had not been very careful. One final note, I lime how Chou’s songs were incorporated in the end credits. Kudos to the producers for introducing North American audience to this talent, even if his English wasn’t perfect.

Rating: 9 /10


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