Title: The Green Hornet
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jou Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christopher Waltz
Release Date: Out now
Comic book adaptations in film seem to go one of two directions these days; either you have your Christopher Nolan-esque gritty reboot, bringing life back to a franchise that has had the dreaded Joel Schumacher treatment, or you have the more light-hearted variation that brought the recent Iron Man adaptations to fame. The Green Hornet takes the latter route.
The premise is familiar. The stoner protagonist’s newspaper baron of a father dies rather early in the film, prompting the protagonist to re-consider what he has done for the greater good. The only difference from your standard mysterious vigilante yarn is that Britt Reid (played by Seth Rogen) never drops his moronic, party-boy persona after his superhero-forging epiphany. Instead, he blunders his way through his crime-fighting career with the aid of his martial arts-trained, car-modifying, weapons-inventing valet, Kato, played by Taiwanese singer/songwriter/pretty boy, Jay Chou.
Rogen and Chou’s acting is passable but the performance that really fills up the screen is the excellent Christopher Waltz. Just like SS Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, Waltz brilliantly plays the role of creepy antagonist Chudnofsky. Apparently Nicholas Cage was lined up to play the baddie, but was dropped for Waltz – a change for the better.
In fact, the film underwent countless changes during development with everything from studios to producers, directors to stars. Originally, Kevin Smith (Clerks) was set to direct, but was replaced with French director Michael Gondry, the man behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Rogen and frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg took over as writers, and were presumably responsible for taking the franchise in a more comedic direction.
The visuals are also suitably impressive. Gondry choreographs scenes quite well, and makes the bold choice of slowing down time to show the fight from the perspective of the protagonists.
If you manage not to take it too seriously, then you should enjoy this film. The combined forces of Gondry, Rogen and Goldberg take the Batman and Robin dynamic and turn it on its head. They take a superhero story and turn it into what is essentially a buddy-cop comedy. They turn the main protagonist into comic relief, and they even give the villain an existential crisis over whether or not he’s scary. It’s absolutely daft, and that proves to be the film’s biggest strength.
In a nutshell: A silly, funny take on the superhero genre.
– Fachtna Basquille