When I heard that Seth Rogan was going to play the Green Hornet, I had my doubts. He often portrays the same character, the loser/stoner/nice guy. I used to like the comic book and TV series, and I probably watched it because my dad played the trumpet, and he liked to play the "Flight Of The Bumble Bee" theme song, trying to emulate Al Hirt. "Not now Kato" was one of my early quotable phrases. "Green Hornet" was less popular than "Superman" and "Batman", but had the better sidekick with Bruce Lee's portrayal of Kato.
And with the spate of movies that have been based on comic books, the expectations were high. So many blockbusters have been superhero-based and I was wondering if this movie was made only because it was one of the few left that hadn't already been made into a movie and the producers were hoping to jump on the bandwagon. So with that, I eagerly anticipated seeing this movie.
The movie opens with a gripping and yet goofy storyline. Christoph Waltz plays the criminal mastermind Chudnofsky, a man obsessed with being scary, and quickly establishes himself as the evil villain. Amid the violence is dialog that makes you laugh aloud. It won't be the last time.
Rogan plays Britt Reid, the overindulged party animal son of a wealthy newspaper owner. He and his father have had a tough relationship, with Reid never living up to his father's impossibly high standards. After his father dies, he discovers Kato (Jay Chou), who, while devoted to the elder Reid also was treated poorly. As Britt discovers that Kato is a genius with cars and gadgets, they unwittingly become a pair of crime fighters. It's a nice back story that sets the stage well for the sometimes rivaled relationship. They also compete for the attention of the secretary Lenore (Cameron Diaz), a role that is way underdeveloped. I'm not sure about this choice for the role, and even though I enjoy Diaz, it probably was time for a younger and fresher face to have been cast.
Unlike the earlier incarnations, D.A. Scanlon (David Harbour) and the Green Hornet are not close allies. As the story unfolds, we get to see some of those great cars and gadgets. But it is the fight sequences that really sizzle. I saw the 2D version of this movie, and when it is released it will be a 3D version, and the fight sequences will no doubt benefit by being viewed in 3D, but even in 2D, they were awesome. The car chases and some other scenes will also likely be fun to watch in 3D, but I'm not sure that this movie really needed the extra special effects in order to become a classic.
Throughout the movie, I was surprised by how often there were laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some great one-liners, usually by Rogan. Of course, there is the climactic chase scene and shoot out, with some new and interesting ways in order to make it fresh. You won't be saying "I've seen THAT before" - believe me. The only problem I had was that the premise for the final car chase is a bit flimsy, and breaks the movie magic for me. ***Spoiler Alert*** I mean really, a hidden tape recorder that records on a flash drive, but you have to go back to the office to upload it? Wouldn't you build mobile communications into the car if you took the time to install a fax machine?
But I'm willing to suspend reality and forgive breaks from older story lines when it comes to the movies, and just let myself get wrapped up in the spectacle unfolding on the screen. "Green Hornet" is funny, action-packed, well-acted and gadget-filled to make this one of my favorite superhero movies. I'll probably see it again in 3D just for fun. Rated PG-13 for violence and sexual references. Keep the 10 and under kids home. Opens Jan 14, 2011. 9 out of 10.
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