With a number of superhero themed titles due out in 2011, one movie had to be released first. The Green Hornet, perhaps the least known of all characters due for film releases, gets that distinction. To provide some background, the Green Hornet cultivated his existence in a series of radio serials more than seventy years ago. Since then, the character has found his way towards comics, television, and now a big-budget film adaptation.
The Green Hornet follows Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), an heir to his father's media empire. As the story begins, Britt Reid is a directionless character who lives to party. However, his father's sudden death sparks a change in the character’s purpose. Reid and his father's mechanic Kato (Jay Chou) eventually team up to become the masked Green Hornet and his unnamed sidekick, respectively. By night, they drive around in a tricked-out car they call “The Black Beauty,” going after the criminal underworld. This, in turn, draws the attention of Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), a gangster whose interests are threatened by the Green Hornet's sudden appearance.
Generally, there is a specific feel to a superhero movie; lately the trend is to go dark and more serious. However, the script (written by Seth Rogen and frequent collaborator, Evan Goldberg) manages to effectively bring comedy into a genre where laughs are often kept to a minimum. In The Green Hornet the story moves along at a good pace, managing to keep the audience interested and more importantly, entertained. The Green Hornet takes the superhero genre seriously, but it does not take itself too seriously.
The casting of Seth Rogen in a superhero role may raise some eyebrows; however, he manages to draw the audience in, and persuades the audience to buy him as Britt Reid/The Green Hornet. As has become routine for Rogen, he brings his own style of humor to the role, which translates brilliantly on the screen. Jay Chou, as Kato, manages to hold his own as comedic ally, and the two have great chemistry together, especially during their various adventures in their Black Beauty-mobile. Of course, every good superhero movie needs a convincing villain, and look no further than current Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz. Best known for his villainous turn as a Nazi in the acclaimed Quentin Tarantino film, Inglourious Basterds, this manages to be a nice change of pace for him. Waltz hams up the role a bit, but it just works for this movie and the story is stronger for it.
Rounding out the leading cast is Cameron Diaz who was miscast as Lenore Case, Britt Reid's knowledgeable secretary and possible love interest. The only times The Green Hornet fell flat were any time Diaz was on the screen. In a movie full of distinctive characters, Cameron Diaz came across as merely an actress saying her lines. Tom Wilkinson is effective in a brief role as James Reid (Britt's father), and be sure to keep an eye out for James Franco in a great cameo.
Finally, director Michel Gondry, best known for music videos and quirky comedies, shows that he is capable of bringing his unique style to a blockbuster film in The Green Hornet. He is a master of visualization who is not afraid to pull anything out of his big bag of tricks. For instance, during fight scenes, Kato has his own superpower, which is amazingly portrayed on the screen. With his directing style, Gondry manages to provide a unique experience that is not like any superhero movie you may have seen before.
Like most blockbuster movies these days, The Green Hornet has the option of going to see the movie in 3D. Granted, the 3D experience does look nice, but considering that The Green Hornet was not shot in 3D, not much is lost by choosing to go for the standard 2D option.
Overall, The Green Hornet is as fun as a ride in The Hornet’s “Black Beauty,” delivering plenty of laughs and action along the way. If 2011 is the year of the superhero movie, The Green Hornet is going to be one tough act to follow.
The Green Hornet
Rated PG-13. Runtime 108 min. Theatrical release 1/14/2011.
PR.com Rating: B