1.5 Stars out of 4
I’d rather witness The Green Hornet in its comic book, radio program, or television series before watching another frame of its film adaption once again. The film is deplorable, absurdly gratuitous, unexciting, and a real mess. The 3D is no helping hand either. What we have once again is a murky, dull, and unfulfilling feature laden under the murky, dull, and unfulfilling 3D.
The Green Hornet then is just another one of those video game gimcracks masquerading as a movie. These are not interesting characters as they never have the inkling to change, but rather pop desperately bad one-liners. The script is quibbling with itself, never content with its superhero storyline or even with its satirical edge, hurdled at the wealthy and rowdy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), who is appointed editor of the Senate after his father (played by Tom Wilkinson, smartly going in and out here) mysteriously dies from a “bee sting”.
Oh, so that’s how we get to the title of The Green Hornet? How clever and ironic. But no: the script, collaborated incompetently by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is one of those films that reaches out for cuss words to get laughs and forgets there’s a story to tell. Well, I think for most who will decide to see this do not demand a story, but the special effects are surprisingly banal and garish. There’s one slow-mo gimmick there and another pointless explosion following.
What the film requires is the urgency and the need to care for these characters. These characters are rejected from society’s standards and hence challenge it in a ludicrous way: be the good guy doing bad guy acts, because it is more fun that way. Right? No, wrong. What we can at least savour at first is the prominent trait linking Reid and his accomplice Kato (Jay Chou): they are both victims of inertia. Reid seems to be wasting his life with inane partying and puerile behaviour. Kato is a real talent and of course a real kung fu master, but is just a waiter - he’s from Shanghai. Reid assures him: Hey, I love Japan. Hilarious.
Or what’s more hilarious is how the whole film is a spiral downwards. What first begins as a promise for satire regresses into a carbon copy of Batman & Robin, where The Green Hornet’s not so campy as it is just deplorably silly. There’s just no fun in here; nothing much to think about and very little to relish viscerally. What we anticipate is the self-aware villain who must play his role as a mockery, because the villain’s motivations in these kind of movies is now set to speed dial: “the world is yours.”
Christoph Waltz is the Russian kingpin Chudnovsky (he implores you remember his name, it may in fact be the only thing you remember). What is supposed to be humorous is that his character engages along the same arc of the heroes. Just being a criminal mafioso is unoriginal - he seeks a kitschy second identity that makes him the most uninspiring villain since Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. I mean, we get perhaps one scene exposing his ‘menace’ and the rest of the film has to pretend he is interesting. It confounds me that this same actor displayed true terror as the Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Here, it seems Waltz is trying to establish an opposite villainy: unsubtle, unconfident, and credulous. He resembles much of the film’s flaws.
Because there’s nothing to marvel in The Green Hornet. We have two unlikable antiheroes who do not challenge our sympathies but eradicate them. What is determined, and promised, is that these two will pull through as respectable luminaries in the end. But ultimately they remain duplicitous rogues.
Cameron Diaz is even added to the black list and provides no sting to the drama, despite her striking looks. This is a terrible performance by Diaz, who cannot even convince us that her looks can act. Not entirely her fault, as the script only calls to her when another offensively sexist joke is summoned by Britt. Speaking of Britt, he could have been a compelling satirical figure, as he represents the predicaments and behaviour of a stout Bruce Wayne. Sadly, The Green Hornet grows tired of satire, its centre of substance, and brings on the slow motion, 3D blur-vision, and creates a films that’s plot, accompanied by tasteless effects, is simply unendurable.
Hard to believe Michel Gondry brought us Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. That film was dark, comical, and touching – without that third dimension. As for a superhero satire I recommend Defendor, starring Woody Harrelson. Amazingly, it’s not shot in 3D. Gondry couldn’t recognize a bad film even when it is popping out at him.