It is really difficult to reboot a franchise that was already kind of boring to begin with. The original Green Hornet 60s TV series, though it boasts incomparable Bruce Lee as Kato, was deadly dull. In fact, the only episode that is somewhat worthwhile isn’t an episode of The Green Hornet at all, but a Batman episode called “Batman’s Satisfaction” (1967). In the story, our visiting heroes Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee) battle the Dynamic Duo (Adam West and Burt Ward), Kato squaring off against Robin. God bless Burt Ward, but after seeing Bruce Lee fight just once, even pulling his punches for the camera, it’s pretty clear who would win the battle. The Batman scene ends in a draw, but was originally written with Robin prevailing over Kato. Upon seeing the original script Bruce Lee refused to allow Kato to lose the fight to Robin, and it was rewritten the way it was shot, even-Stevens. As if. My review of the Green Hornet remake starring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou after the jump:
Green Hornet Buzzkill #1: Funny Where it Shouldn’t Be Funny
I’m sad to say that I have never enjoyed a superhero movie less, and believe me, I’ll watch anything where people fly, transform, kick ass, or bite each other. I really wanted to like this movie. The film’s villain “Chudnofsky” is established early on as a somewhat comical character…and he looks too much Christopher Guest as the Six-Fingered Man from The Princess Bride (much like in the Harrison Ford film Clear and present Danger, the villain Col. Felix Cortez looked just like Phil Hartman, which was both funny and distracting). Also, the big “nudge-nudge wink-wink” salute to Pineapple Express lovers by using James Franco in the opening scene feels cheesy and dumb, and immediately gives the film a sheen of disappointing unreality.
Green Hornet Buzzkill #2: You Never Actually Like Britt Reid
As co-writer, executive producer and lead actor of this film, Rogen overextended himself, thereby completely missing the mark. The “bad childhood” device used to gain sympathy for Britt doesn’t mitigate that the guy grows up as a spoiled dick, no matter what a jerk his dad is. In television’s Smallville the audience truly cares about the evil and misguided Lex Luthor mostly because he is an abused and tortured guy with low self-esteem. That angle wasn’t played out enough in this film, so all you feel for Britt is vague contempt. Britt’s also utterly charmless, and has rightfully earned his father’s scorn by adulthood.
And by the way, where did Britt get the chutzpah to be such a player with women anyway?
Green Hornet Buzzkill # 3: Kato Is Cool, But….
If Kato is so smart, why does he like Britt? If he’s such a fearless, intelligent ass-kicker, why has he always been relegated to menial work? If he has been so schooled in the physical fighting arts, why can’t he swim? When Kato fights others he is practically superhuman, but in his only fight with Britt he barely holds his own! I mean, c’mon, people! So, basically, Britt has no talent, and all of the ingenuity is Kato’s alone. So why should we care? Britt has no journey. He goes from a sexist, rich and conceited pig to…the same. Playing Van Halen over a car chase montage does not a superhero make. Also, Britt and Kato wreck police cars…people who are trying to protect the public. When Kato presents Britt with an ingeniously homemade gas gun as a gift, Britt’s disappointed, the spoiled little jerk. After accidentally shooting himself, he later petulantly shoots Kato for revenge. What a partnership.
Green Hornet Buzzkill #4: Even After He Takes The Reins, Britt Remains a Selfish Pig
Britt Reid could have redeemed himself at least by taking his father’s legacy seriously. Yet, after he inherits his father’s newspaper The Daily Sentinel, he uses it as a tool to publicize his own exploits as the Green Hornet. Edward James Olmos, cast as the newspaper’s editor, is given nothing to do but look dour. And, by the way, the whole crew of seasoned, hard-hitting reporters never catches on to what Britt’s doing? Fire them all, I say. Finally, Britt then behaves in a sleazy manner to his new temp Lenore, played by Cameron Diaz. This obnoxious trait, which is I guess supposed to make the audience root for Britt comes off as sleazily sexist, and to female viewers of the film, downright insulting. Finally, as an example, one can believe that no one knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman because he lives in Gotham and makes no moves to connect himself to the Batman. Why wouldn’t anyone realize that the Hornet is Britt Reid? He presses his employees to publicize the Green Hornet’s exploits, and has the money to buy a supercar. He even has an Asian Executive Assistant. Guess who? Duh!
This film is released as a three-disc combo: you get a Blu-ray 3D disc, a Blu-ray, and a DVD copy. If you purchase this 3D set without owning a 3D capable television set and hardware, the disc will simply display that it cannot be played. In the extras, “The Cutting Room” is a condescending operation where viewers can laboriously create their own clips of films from the Blu-Ray, just to post and share them with others online. It seems like an incredible and tedious waste of time, designed by Sony simply to further promote the film that you have already purchased. Who cares? “Awesoom Gag Reel” shows Rogen working out with a “Shake Weight,” taking advantage of the obvious joke. (If you haven’t seen the Shake Weight, it’s a sex joke.) Weary looking crewmembers laugh weakly as Rogen’s joke goes on… and on. Even Rogen’s laugh in the on-set extras is just self indulgent and irritating, especially after watching the soulless film that he is mostly responsible for. The Green Hornet feels really, really long. It’s tedious. There is never any sense of real danger or reality in the film, so you ultimately never really care if anyone lives or dies. Kato and the car are the real stars. This movie should have been called “Kato, His Cool Inventions… and His Fat Pal.” Perhaps I should say something nice to wrap up the most ferocious movie review I’ve ever written. Um…cool end credits? Whatever.