In a move that will probably make me look bad by proxy, my good friend and published film critic Slewth (not actually his real name fact fans) has agreed to review films for this blog. Before we start the review, I'd just like to thank him and point out that he still has my copy of Stephan King's The Gunslinger. The stealing prick.
Dir: Michel Gondry
Writ: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson and
Edward James Olmos.
Runtime: 115 mins
Release Date: January 14th
Rating: 3 stars ***
The start of the year is a time for going to the cinema. In the summer it’s a time for going to that movie that looks really exciting, the end of the year is about going to that film that might win some awards, but the start of the year is just about going to the cinema, checking the listings and saying “that’ll do”. Over the next few weeks many people will check the listings, spot The Green Hornet and decide, ‘that’ll do’. And The Green Hornet will live up to these expectations. It will indeed do.
Based on the radio series created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker in the 1930’s, The Green Hornet pre-dates Batman as a masked vigilante and pre-dates Superman and Spider-man for having their alter-ego work at a newspaper. Britt Reid (Rogen) is the rich heir of The Daily Sentinel newspaper. After his dad dies he meets Kato (Chou), who is a decent fighter and mechanic. Reid becomes inspired to fight crime with Kato at his side. The motivation goes no deeper than the fact that fighting crime seems kinda cool. So the pair go out in their souped up car and beat up bad guys until the really big bad guy (Waltz) gets annoyed and draws the film to an adequate climax. Along the way they hit the points of beautiful woman (Diaz) and partnership falling apart. And it all works. There are some holes to be sure, not least of which is that in this movie, Kato really doesn’t need the rather bumbling Reid. In the original radio series Kato was the fighter and driver of the awesome car, while Reid was the master detective, and their partnership worked perfectly, but here Reid hasn’t become the great detective yet, so he’s kind of useless. He’ll get there by the sequel, but he’s not there yet.
As for Kato, the portrayal of him as a martial artist seems to be suggesting that having instincts is the same as being a cyborg. Which is odd. When Reid later develops some instincts of his own, he gets the same weird cyborg vision, but it doesn’t work as well. . . So instinct-cyborg-vision is just Kato’s thing, it’s just odd.
The climax is also a wee bit pointless, involving a mad dash to one particular computer, when any computer would do, perhaps even a computer in the high-tech car. Then there’s the twist at the end, which isn’t an exciting twist, it’s a limp pointless gesture which makes the entire climax even more pointless. It all looks good though. It’ll do.
Christoph Waltz as Chudnofsky, the villain, is interestingly excellent. He is proper comic book villain and an appropriate enemy to the Hornet. Chudnofsky is a genuinely interesting character, very powerful and dangerous, but also very insecure and out of touch. Waltz balances these two sides excellently and steals every scene he’s in, though his last exit is just a little bit over the top.
3D is used admirably in the movie, proper subtle 3D rather than the horrible in your face kind. One particular sequence uses 3D to great effect as various split screen panels are displayed at different levels. Though the expert use of 3D in that sequence fades next to the genius technique involved in turning one continuous shot seamlessly into roughly a dozen continuous shots. The sequence is one of director Gondry’s most inspired.
Overall, The Green Hornet works, it entertains, it’s a fine way to spend an evening, just don’t expect to remember it in a few months’ time.