The Green Hornet (2011 movie) review…

The Green Hornet (2011 movie) review after the break…

The Green Hornet (2011 movie) review…

It is morbidly fascinating to watch the machinery of Hollywood wrestle with an intellectual property before a tangible movie is produced. Properties like “Dune,” “Spiderman,” “Indiana Jones” and “The Lord of the Rings” have all had long, sometimes torturous periods where directors, stars, producers, writers and studios all walked in and out of a production like a revolving door. One minute – “Actor A” is attached until Director B” comes along and demands a re-write, bringing in “Writer C” who turns in a script that causes “Studio D” to pass on the project, forcing “Actor A” to bow out to move on to other projects, etc. so forth.

Sometimes, the long process known as “Development Heck” results in a good product – Few can arguably claim that “The Lord of the Rings” is a bad series. Other times… Well, you know the old saying, “Anything can burn if you cook it long enough.”

“The Green Hornet” has had a disastrous time attempting to be made. So many actors and directors and writers have been attached to this project at one point that it reads like a Who’s Who of late 1990’s Hollywood Fame. All movies have had some amount of talent being attached to a project only to walk away but “The Green Hornet” has had so many that one can’t help but wonder what anyone saw in this property. No offense but “The Green Hornet” is hardly a “Batman” or “Superman” or even “The Shadow.”

“The Green Hornet” started it’s life as a radio serial before finding itself as a television series and comic book series. The “gimmick” of the Green Hornet was that, unlike Batman or Superman, the Green Hornet was perceived by the fictional public as a villain despite the Green Hornet’s noble intentions. Imagine if The Joker, Batman’s most famed nemesis, was secretly a good guy – Fighting evil behind the scenes but always being portrayed in the headlines as evil. On the television series, the Green Hornet’s sidekick, Kato, was played by martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

The movie “Green Hornet” follows all of the broad strokes of the radio serial and television show but decides to take a decidedly (and unfortunate) humorous turn, much like the 1966 Batman series starring Adam West. Seth Rogen (who also co-wrote the movie), stars as Britt, the bumbling and ne’er-do-well son of James Reid, newspaper magnate. When James suddenly dies of a supposed bee sting (anyone who can’t see the late movie revelation from this plot point, please turn in your badge and be escorted out the door, thank you), it leaves Britt in charge of a newspaper empire he is ill-equipped to lead. There to ensure that the newspaper doesn’t completely flounder under Britt’s rule is long-time newspaper chief Mike Axford. Britt also finally meets one of James’ most underemployed servants, Kato. Against this backdrop is the comedically nefarious Chudnofsky, played by Christoph Waltz.

There is no helping it – “The Green Hornet” is not a good movie. To even begin to list the reasons would be an exercise in futility.

I have no doubt that Seth Rogen is a talented actor. However, his brand of comedy simply does not work with an intellectual property such as “The Green Hornet.” Perhaps Rogen was inspired by the 1966 comedic interpretation of Batman. Perhaps the heavy-handed comedic overtones was merely a result of Rogen’s success playing slacker / pothead characters. This one decision to skew the entire movie with comedy dooms the movie from the start and never allows it to ever recover.

Part of the problem with the comedy is Britt Reid is played like a spoiled rich brat with absolutely no talent whatsoever. None. Britt has an amazing ability to botch just about every task handed to him, so much so that the one brief action sequence where he has even the slightest bit of competency actually feels… Well, exciting. Naturally, though, Britt botches even this moment at the end for the usual hopes of a comedic effect. There’s no getting around writing this – NO ONE LIKES A RICH, SPOILED BRAT! Britt is never a sympathetic character throughout the entire movie – Ever. Without any endearing qualities, the prospect of watching this movie is beyond painful and simply magnifies the other mistakes that the movie makes.

If Britt is hopelessly untalented in this movie, Kato is supremely overqualified to the point of absurdity. A martial arts expert, an experienced driver, a masterful mechanic… Why isn’t this movie called “Kato” instead of “The Green Hornet”? In newspaper terms, “The Green Hornet” ‘buries the lead’ by making Kato nearly invincible. There’s a reason why they called the comic book “Batman” – Because Batman was the hero and Robin was the sidekick. Batman was the dominant character and Robin was the assistant. There is no such dynamic here; Kato is the dominant character and The Green Hornet can barely get out of a car without stumbling over his own two feet.

Even brushing these three huge mistakes aside (as though one could and still enjoy the movie), there are several other painful miscues that the movie makes. The “bromance” between Britt and Kato is awkward at best and downright unbearable at worst. At times, I thought there was going to be some man-on-man action at any moment. Really? Is this some sort of “meta-humor” that’s all the rage with kids nowadays? Go right up to the brink where you expect Britt & Kato to lock lips and then have them end the scene innocuously? I have no problem with the script bonding, having a common purpose, learning to set aside their differences to be friends… But, please… Enough.

Then there’s Chudnofsky who, quite frankly, doesn’t belong. What’s Chudnofsky’s gimmick? He’s managed to kitbash two firearms together so that he can fire two bullets off at once horizontally. That’s it. That’s Chudnofsky’s angle. Later on, he is inspired by The Green Hornet’s success to create a super hero image of his own. While I sympathize with “first movie villains” because they have very little room to grow (after all, a first movie must establish the hero, must establish the hero becoming a super hero, must establish the villain becoming a super villain, etc.), Chudnofsky has absolutely nothing to work with. What’s his goal? To keep his dominance over crime? Give him something tangible! Give him… Something! Anything! Have him run for political office! Have him attempt to rob a bank or assassinate a political figure! Threaten a national landmark! Build a nuclear weapon! Something! In this movie, he is given nothing and he never appears menacing.

I’ll be completely honest and congratulate “The Green Hornet” on a few “little moments” throughout the movie. They clearly wanted to pay homage to all the Green Hornet media of the past – The early masks of the Green hornet, the sketches of Bruce Lee, the 1940’s car, the “fake getting shot so you can reveal a bullet wound in public that you got while you were fighting”… These are all the little touches that turn a good movie into a great movie but they mean little here because the rest of the movie is so underwhelming!

I’m not even going to bother with Cameron Diaz. I’m too tired of griping about this film to even deal with her.

“The Green Hornet” veers into the wrong genre and, as a result, never even reaches a level of competency to deserve a second chance. I feel horrible that the property debuts with a miserable first impression. Seth Rogen may have had the best of intentions by turning The Green Hornet into a comedy but you know what they say, “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” A road that not even Kato can drive away from.

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