Thanks to a delayed production, changing release dates, Seth Rogen as the lead and Michel Gondry as the director, it’s been hard for anybody to get a direct read on The Green Hornet. Fans of the 1960s Green Hornet television show, which introduced American audiences to Bruce Lee, have regularly cried out, without having seen the movie, that it’s an abomination raping their childhood. The truth is, however, that the movie is actually quite a bit of fun.
As both Katey and Josh have pointed out in their reviews, the film isn’t perfect, but it is a really fun time at the movie theater that manages to successfully blend both action and comedy. Having seen the movie myself and enjoyed it immensely, I felt compelled to explain why audiences should be interested in giving The Green Hornet a shot themselves. Read on below for my 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Excited About The Green Hornet.
It’s Not A Spoof, But It Does Mix Up The Genre
I’m a huge comic book nerd and I love all of the classic stories, but it’s impossible not to recognize the insane number of tropes that nearly every superhero project employs. They all have a hero living under the shadow of a kind and noble father, an egomaniacal villain and the classic damsel in distress. The Green Hornet acknowledges the existence of those clichés, sets up the framework, and then turns it all 180 degrees. Rather than showing his only son a righteous path and teaching him how to be a good person, Britt Reid’s father, played by Tom Wilkinson, is a total prick who has nothing but disdain for his boy. Chudnofsky, played by the Oscar winning Christoph Waltz, is a kingpin crippled by a midlife crisis and massive self-doubt. Lenore Case, played by Cameron Diaz, is not only never placed in a position where she flails her arms and screams, “Help me, Green Hornet!” but she is instead smarter than both Britt and Kato put together.
But even these smaller level changes don’t hold a candle to the biggest change of them all: the relationship between Britt and Kato. This whole story takes the Batman and Robin concept and turns it on its ear, giving the sidekick all of the real powers and abilities. If you’ve seen it in a superhero movie before, The Green Hornet will flip it and make it its own, all while maintaining the highest respect for the genre.
It May Not Be A Spoof, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Seriously Funny
Remember when you went to go see Superbad and Pineapple Express and laughed your ass off each time? Both of those movies came from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the same writers who scripted The Green Hornet. While it is, admittedly, a different kind of humor – their newest is rated PG-13 after all – the movie does still have more than its fair share of belly laughs. In this aspect,The Green Hornet's greatest asset is the relationship between Britt and Kato, the same kind of male friendship that made Rogen and Goldberg’s first two scripts so successful. Even though Jay Chou barely knew a word of English before starting the production, he and Rogen have a surprising chemistry and even better timing. Rogen and Goldberg find humor beyond the dialogue, also providing a great deal of physical humor.
Funny as Green Hornet may be, if Pineapple Express showed us anything, it’s that not only are Rogen and Goldberg adept at writing comedy, but they can do action quite astutely as well, which perfectly segues into my next point:
Michel Gondry Proves Himself To Have Serious Action Chops
Even the day one supporters of this project raised an eyebrow when it was announced that Michel Gondry, the director of films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind, would be helming the project. Having never done a movie even remotely close to the action genre, nobody had any idea what to expect from the French born director. The verdict? Gondry nails it. Being sure never to let The Green Hornet’s pacing slow down too greatly, there’s always another action sequence right around the corner filled with car chases, giant explosions, and Gatling guns. The director captures them all wonderfully. Even better, unlike most modern action movies, the audience never gets lost in a blur of fire and shrapnel, instead we’re always able to comprehend exactly what’s going on.
As terrific as these sequences are, however, Michel Gondry’s real artistic contribution to the Green Hornet’s action scenes gets a section of its very own:
Two Words: Kato Vision
When Kato’s adrenaline starts pumping and his heartbeat rises, such as when, for example, he is about to get into a fight, something magical happens. Suddenly everything around him begins to slow down, while he continues to move at a normal, if not hyper, speed. Like a great chess player, he can see every one of his enemies’ moves 10 steps ahead, all while identifying every useful pieces of data in his environment. It’s an effect that Gondry appropriately named Kato Vision and it is nothing short of an achievement. If you will, think about the scene in The Matrix where Neo does his famous backbend to dodge the bullets being fired at him. Now imagine that Neo doesn’t have to do his backbend and while the bullets slowly wiz past, he simply walks over to them and flicks them away with his index finger. Watching Neo flick bullets, though, is boring. Kato knocking the fuck out of eight gang members with guns in hyperspeed is not.
But insane martial arts skills is only one trick in Kato’s seemingly bottomless bag. He can make an excellent cup of coffee, he can spin bottle caps off with his palm, he’s a great pianist and he can flip a pen into a cup using a briefcase. As great as those skills may be, they don’t hold a candle to his greatest ability, auto engineering, which happens to be item number five.
The Black Beauty
In film and television history there is an extensive list of awesome cars, from Batman’s Batmobile to the Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee. Now we can feel free to throw 2011’s iteration of The Black Beauty. Built by Kato using the body of a sleek, black 1964-1965 Chrysler Imperial, the whole thing is a brilliant piece of engineering outfitted with an endless number of weapons and gadgets, from a tripod-mounted Browning machine gun in the trunk, to a flamethrower and eight Stinger missiles in the front. Even beyond the weapons, the whole thing is thought out beautifully, from suicide doors to the converted front wheel drive. It’s the kind of automobile even non-car fanatics, like myself, will look at and just say, “Damn.” You almost want to shed a tear in those moments when the action demands that we watch it get riddled with gunfire or lose a door, but then you remember that Britt has a garage with three more of them back home. All you can do is mutter, “Lucky bastard.”
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.