Probably the best year for movie geeks like myself in my lifetime was easily the year 2008. We had Iron Man, The Dark Knight, WALL.E, Hellboy 2, The Incredible Hulk remake, and Tropic Thunder all in one summer, and they were all awesome. That line-up was better than the last two summers combined. Sure we’ve had some heavy hitters like Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim, but unfortunately, no one went to see the ones that were actually good. I bring this up because from a bird’s-eye-perspective, 2011 is looking like it just may be the next nerd culture movie boom we’ve been waiting for. Why? Take one look at this year’s lineup: Sucker Punch, Cowboys and Aliens, a new Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, and… the eighth and final Harry Potter. I’m excited, but while I still have a few more months to wait before these films start rolling in, there was another movie in the same genre. Though it may not have had the same awe factor for me going in as the one’s above, it still left me pretty darn curious that it defiantly merited a go for me. That movie was The Green Hornet.
I think it was really smart for this movie to release rather early in the year where it has very little competition. During the summer, regardless of how good or bad it is, this kind of movie would have undoubtedly been lost among all the hype of the other movies I mentioned above. With that being said, was The Green Hornet good? Yeah. I believe it was. The best way to summarize my feelings would be to quote my good pal Sokka from Team Avatar:
“This is the kind of wacky time-wasting nonsense I’ve been missing.”__Book 3 Ch.17
The plot is your standard affair: There’s the typical overworking father and slacking son relationship. Said father gets killed by an “accident” that is pretty obviously a cover-up from the beginning. Son develops a partnership with one of his dad’s former lackeys whom he discovers is awesome. Said partnership becomes complicated when “the girl” shows up. And among all this chaos, there’s an eccentric, mid-life crisis bad guy causing even more chaos that eventually forces the two to quickly get their act together. Yeah we’ve seen all these tropes a thousand times before, but in the hands of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad), The Green Hornet becomes the perfect example of what happens when veteran comedy writers decide to do a superhero movie.
This movie is all about the delivery. One of the first things that I felt about this movie was that it was fast. Really fast. The movie moves slow just long enough for us to get to know the four central characters, the protagonist Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), the side-kick Kato (Jay Chao) the girl reporter Lenore Chase (Cameron Diaz), and the arch villain Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), and once those four are established, the movie goes nuts. The action almost has this innate sense of momentum to it that carries throughout the entire film, and where you would normally expect them to go into slow motion, they actually do the opposite and speed up many sequences for comic effect. There are a lot of sharp sound effects for each of the hits and blows that feel right at home with the campiness of the story. In short, the movie knows how to have fun with its source material, which a lot of new super hero movies seem to think is above them.
I was pretty pleased with a lot of the cast. In all honesty, I always like Seth Rogen best when he writes characters for himself, and his portrayal of the Green Hornet definitely played to his strengths. Jay Chao as Kato had a very limited emotional range that stayed very close to the middle for the whole movie, yet it didn’t’ bother me because a.) It made him a better foil to Rogen, and b.) It’s hard to complain about someone’s acting when it’s pretty obvious that character was written with half a dozen other talents required in its performance, which Chao does with flying colors. Cameron Diaz, yeah, not really much to say there. I appreciated that they took away the whole “damsel in distress” motif that would usually come with her kind of character, but they didn’t replace it with anything else, so she’s just sort of there as an excuse for the two heroes to make asses of themselves. But Christoph Waltz, boy was he fun as the villain, and he’s played some damn awesome villains in the past (Inglorious Basterds). If I had to describe his performance, I would have to say it’s somewhere in between Samuel L. Jackson from The Spirit and Paul Giamatti from Shoot Em’ Up. I don’t know why, but that’s what he reminds me off. The rest of the supporting cast does great, including James Franco, who has this hilarious cameo scene with Waltz in the very beginning.
I will say right now that this movie may not be for everyone. I believe there is a good chance that the concept, two vigilantes who pretend to be criminals so that they can stumble their way through crime fighting but then end up causing just as much damage as they saved, could leave a bad taste for some people, and for others, just not be different enough. There are so many moments in the script where it feels like it’s taking some dark turns, yet it plays everything up for laughs, not giving the more emotional moments of the story the time they need to fester and give us some depth. It’s too busy moving too fast and trying to break away from as much conventions of its genre as it can.
So to wrap up, if you’re looking for something fun to watch with the Regal Movie gift cards you got from Christmas, The Green Hornet will definitely fit the bill. Just don’t expect to remember it once Sucker Punch roles around in two more months.
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