The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Green Hornet | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Green Hornet

Directed by: Michel Gondry
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Edward James Olmos, Tom Wilkinson

Bored rich kid Rogen teams up with his deceased father's valet (Chou) to fight crime in this latest reboot of the old serial.

The Green Hornet first came to life as a radio serial in the thirties. A decade later it became a Saturday morning cinema serial and in the sixties hit TV as a series of thirty minute episodes. The latter is probably the most famous installment, thanks mainly to some crossover episodes featuring Adam West's Batman. It shared the tongue in cheek, campy tone of Batman, and thankfully this latest incarnation chooses the same route.
Of all the recent superhero movies, this is the first one to bring something back to the genre that's been missing since the eighties Superman flicks - it's fun! In the hands of Christopher Nolan or Bryan Singer this would be a moapy, reflective wankfest with a soul-searching hero. In Gondry's hands it's a colorful buddy movie whose hero accidentally becomes one while drunkenly vandalizing his father's tombstone. Rogen's Hornet is basically a fool, it's sidekick Kato who pulls the strings together, it's Kato who gets the attention from the ladies, Kato who has the fighting skills. The relationship is reminiscent of Kurt Russell and Dennis Dun in "Big Trouble In Little China". Another similarity to a John Carpenter film is a great fight scene between Rogen and Chou that takes it's cue from "They Live" and the original "Pink Panther" movies.
One thing I really hate about superhero movies is the obligation film-makers feel to devote most of a franchises first installment to the origin story. Here however this is the most entertaining part of the film and when we get into the actual plot in the third act the movie starts to drag. Watching Rogen and Chou play off each other is a lot more interesting than a few bland post-Matrix style action scenes.
A lot of reviewers have remarked that Gondry fails to put his stylistic stamp on this film but I have to disagree. In particular there's a sequence involving split screens that's one of the most technically amazing things I've seen in a Hollywood movie for many a year. I'll be checking the DVD extras to see exactly how this was accomplished.
I have to say the worst thing about this film is Christoph Waltz as the villain Chudnofsky. Maybe it's a lack of direction but he just seems completely uncomfortable and his performance plays like Jean Claude Van Damme mimicking Christopher Walken. Was his oscar winning turn in "Inglorious Basterds" a one-off?
Finally a word about 3D. In Ireland at least, this was released in 3D only, something that really pisses me off. I definitely would have opted for 2D if it was available, and after the fact I now know I would have missed out on nothing. The (false) third dimension added zilch here and I can still say "Avatar" is still the only film I've seen that was enhanced by the gimmick. Apparently the box office figures haven't been great for this stateside so hopefully studios will think twice about using this tactic in the future.