The superhero genre has experienced somewhat of a rebirth in recent years. Films like The Dark Knight and The Watchmen have helped to restore an air of credibility to the genre that was destroyed by campy fare like Batman and Robin. This combined with the self knowing, tongue in cheek cool of Kick-Ass and Iron Man has helped to bring superheroes back into the mainstream. Of course, for every success there are as many failures, as those who’ve seen X Men origins: Wolverine can attest to. But it seems spandex is still in vogue for Hollywood, and producers are clamouring through the back catalogue for new heroes to adapt. The Green Hornet may not be a name familiar to most people. Indeed many may only recognise it due to the fact that Bruce Lee played his assistant Kato in the sixties TV series that has long since been forgotten, but regardless of this the character makes his big screen debut this month in a film by Michel Gondry.
Comedian Seth Rogan plays Britt Reid, the spoilt millionaire son of a Los Angeles newspaper mogul. Brett lives in a world of girls, booze, and parties, but this all ends when his father dies and he is left questioning his existence. Enter Kato, played by Jay Chou, as well as being the deceased Mr Reid’s mechanic Kato is a martial arts expert, F1 style driver, and a genius inventor, how convenient? Together they decide to make a difference and rid the city of crime, which doesn’t sit well with the plans of evil mastermind Chudnofsky, played by Inglorious Basterds’ Christoph Waltz. Armed with enough cool gadgetry to put Bond to shame the duo become The Green Hornet and, er, Kato. Aided unwittingly by Reid’s beautiful secretary Cameron Diaz our heroes wage bloody war on the underworld, finding themselves at odds with both sides of the law.
The Green Hornet is billed as an action/comedy, and whilst it may deliver on the action with car chases, kung fu fighting, and shoot outs, this is about the only thing it manages to get right. It is aimed at the same audience as Kick Ass, but is nowhere near as good. Nothing in this film really works, the characters are completely unlikable, particularly Brett himself. Rogan co-wrote the script but it feels as if the whole thing was improvised, scenes are overlong and poorly delivered, if this is meant to be a comedy then why isn’t it actually funny? Other characters are hollow and underdeveloped, particularly Diaz who redefines the phrase “pointless eye candy” with her performance. Visually the film is as disappointing as it is in every other aspect, which is shame as fans of Gondry have come to expect so much more of the visionary director. Only one scene set inside of Brett’s subconscious serves to demonstrate what Gondry is capable of, and it is perhaps the only memorable scene of the film. It is easy to see what the minds behind the Green Hornet where trying to achieve, they wanted it to be cool, funny, iconic, and exciting. Sadly, it is none of these things.
Review by Elliot Hyams.