Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Awesome Cinema: The Green Hornet

When I first heard about Seth Rogen's involvement with The Green Hornet, my reaction was far from favorable. After all, we're talking about lovable heavyweight Seth Rogen, the guy who made his mark on the comedy Knocked Up, and whose darkest film, Observe And Report, was a movie so disturbing(one gag involved his character, for all intents and purposes, raping an unconscious Anna Faris) that it felt sort of guilty laughing at the jokes. But, if anything, while comedic in its wrappings, The Green Hornet provides a chewy center of action at its core.

The story is your typical superhero origin tale, and I'm not trying to sound negative about it at all. Britt Reid(Seth Rogen) is your typical rich heir with no day job, whose entrance into the story as an adult is heralded by an appliance being hurled through a balcony glass door. The family business he is heir to is the Los Angeles newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, ran by James Reid(Tom Wilkinson), Britt's hardcase father. Our hero is in no hurry to inherit his duties, and thoroughly enjoys his life of leisure, although he is reluctant to admit that he is directionless. When his father dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances, Britt is suddenly given the reins to his father's newspaper empire. He also meets Kato(Jay Chou), a mechanical genius and martial arts master, who was his father's mechanic. The duo become fast friends and, seeking revenge on Britt's father for various misgivings in the past, decide one night to, in disguise, deface a statue of him given by the city.

This one exercise in mischief creates the genesis of the Green Hornet legend.

Meanwhile, a powerful crimeboss named Benjamin Chudnofsky(the awesome Christoph Waltz) has taken over the Los Angeles underworld, but one thing eludes him: why does no one fear him? After concieving the idea of the Green Hornet, Britt decides to use the Sentinel in a masterplan to push the masked hero as a criminal, in order to bait Chudnofsky into a confrontation. He hires Lenore Case(Cameron Diaz), who holds a degree in Criminology, as a secretary, using her knowledge as ideas to boost the Hornet's criminal reputation. Meanwhile, District Attorney Frank Scanlon(David Harbour) pursues Britt, because of the newspaper's focus on the Hornet's unstoppable reign of crime is making him seem inadequate to the public eye.

The Green Hornet is a fun movie, although the 3-D aspect is non-existent and a waste of extra money. Seth Rogen is funny, and one can tell that he really slimmed down for the role. Jay Chou is awesome as Kato...and while comparisons to Bruce Lee is expected, I think he rather did good simply as the masked partner(possibly the only partner of a superhero who overshadowed the main character!), and I loved the idea of the script drawing attention to the fact that he doesn't actually have a super-codename. While the rest of the cast was great(the Jew-Hunter as the main villian!!!!), its easy to overlook the third major character of the piece...sorry Ms. Diaz, i'm talking about the tricked-out Black Beauty! I've only seen three episodes of the old show, but man, I don't remember all of those wonderful toys in it!

I'm sure there are people out there that wanted a "serious" Green Hornet film, ala Dark Knight. What can I say? They have merit. However, the only complaint I truly have about this film? The Flight of the Bumblebee wasn't used hardly. It was used in Kill Bill, for goodness sake! But here? Only some crappy hip-hop remake. Talk about gag inducing!

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