Today’s film is another in the series of “recently released” films – so let me fire off the Spoiler Horn straight away. I don’t know if it’ll really be needed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It is a remake/reimagining (boy, do I hate that word) of a late 60’s/early 70’s TV series, that itself was a remake of a 20’s radio serial. The TV show, however, is most famous for introducing the world to a young man by the name of Bruce Lee. Today’s film is the Michel Gondry directed, Seth Rogan and Jay Chou starring – The Green Hornet.
As I said above, this take is a “reimagining”, although I can only guess as to how much, as I have not seen so much as one episode of the TV show, and outside of a few still frame pictures and the Bruce Lee connection, I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about it. However, from what I do know of the making of the film, Seth Rogan is a pretty big fan of the original property, going so far as to get the son of the original creator to OK the project before going ahead with it, so I trust that (outside of a few modern technological touches) what we get is a pretty accurate representation of the characters.
As it was, though, this is a film that has long been floated around, before being produced with the names we got, with people such as Kevin Smith, Nic Cage, Vince Vaughn and Stephen Chow all slated to be involved, and a script that went through several iterations before landing on that which we eventually got.
As for the plot that we did get, it’s a fairly standard origin story with no real new ground broken. Britt Reid is the playboy son of a newspaper magnate, and typical “coast on Daddy’s money” party boy. After dad winds up dead (seemingly of a bee sting), Britt finds himself in charge of the paper and suddenly with more responsibility that he knows what to do with. And, together with his “executive assistant/garage attendant/all around badass, Kato (aka KATO!) and unwitting team mastermind, Lenore Case – decides to become the undercover crime fighter, The Green Hornet. Along the way he uncovers the conspiracy that lead to his father’s murder and crosses paths with Chudnofsky (the always brilliant Christoph Waltz, who I’m sure took this role, because he gets to wear a swank gas mask at the end).
Britt Reid, in this film at least, is portrayed as a typical “media brat” party boy, who makes a crazy adrenaline charged decision and quickly realises that he is in way over his head. And, to me, Seth Rogan is the perfect person to embody the overall “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I will just try to do the best I can” aspect of the film’s version of the character. And I think that that is half the reason for all the hate I’ve managed to find on the internet about this film. It’s an origin story, the beginning of the character, and that means that of course he’s not going to be perfect at what he does right out of the gates (he’s not the goddamn Batman, after all). In fact, and probably like a LOT of the show (I guess), he’d have been killed soon into his tenure were it not for KATO!
Confession time: I am a long time Jay Chou fan, and finding out that he was cast in this film was what finally convinced me that I needed to see it on the big screen. And he (along with Christoph Waltz) was the true highlight of the film. But, let’s face it – when you can singlehandedly disarm 6 guys, make multiple death cars, punch a dude through a window AND beat the everloving piss out of Seth Rogan – then, of course, you are going to be a highlight. And hell, I’m pretty sure he did all his own stunts (but, knowing the skill of a lot of Chinese performers, I would not be surprised by that at all). I hope that this is the break that the guy needs to get Western acceptance – not that he needs it at all, mind.
Now, I know that this was a 3D film – and was even filmed to be released as such (I am not a fan of films that get filmed, then rejigged for 3D released), but it truly didn’t need to be 3D in the slightest. Hell, the only sequences that I can even recall being actual 3D, and not just depth-of-field work, were pointless “hey, lets blow our 3D budget on piddling little crap” scenes. Normally, that sort of frippery would make me laugh, but zero attention was bought to it – now, I think that that was Michel Gondry’s intent, as he seems to be the kind of guy who would do something like that; “hey, guys – let’s blow the 3D budget on things like making coffee, uncapping beer bottles and chopping vegetables”.
All in all, though, The Green Hornet is a fun, if forgettable popcorn flick. See it in 2D if you can.