Saturday 12 February 2011

Hornet’s Nest

The Green Hornet 3D 2011 USA
Directed by
Michel Gondry
Playing at
UK cinemas now.

This will probably end up being a short-but-bitter-sweet review of the new Green Hornet movie purely because I’m just really not sure if I liked it.

I remember when I was a kid and sitting in a room somewhere playing with my... um... it would be my mum’s mum’s sister’s son... and he had a Corgi replica of The Green Hornet’s car, The Black Beauty, with a little Green Hornet figure poking out one of the windows to fire his gun. I was too young to have seen the TV series on its first time around the block and so don’t have too many memories of the sixties show (I’ve not seen it in the years since) but I remember the character of The Green Hornet sticking in my mind over the years.

I’ve never heard the original Green Hornet radio show nor have I read any of the multitude of Green Hornet comics which have put in appearances over the years since the 40s. I did see, a few years ago now, the first of the two 1940 Green Hornet serials which starred Charlie Chan’s Number One Son Keye Luke in the role of Kato, the Hornet’s chauffer... and so it’s this incarnation of the characters that I remember more than the old TV show which had Bruce Lee playing Kato.

Which is really too bad for me because I noticed almost no references to the 30s incarnation of the character in the new movie but there were a couple of references to Bruce Lee in the new film... one as sketches of Bruce Lee in Kato’s sketchbook and another, more oblique reference as Kato effortlessly pulls off Lee’s famously developed “one inch punch” as he demonstrates his qualifications to work for the bad guy and pull of “a hit” in the new movie. That was among the good things about this new version.

Seth Rogen stars at the title character and he’s re-written the role as a comedy vehicle... and that’s what we have delivered to our screen. A fast paced, comedy action vehicle with a few laughs and some not bad 3D effects. The real problem I have with it, however... is that it’s a fast paced comedy action vehicle with a few laughs and some not bad 3D effects! Wow! Deja vu in that last sentence or what?

Or let me make my possibly overwrought last paragraph a tad clearer for the hard of thinking here (I’m looking at you, any reckless studio bosses who may stumble on this blogspot accidentally and deign to read it)...

When the f*ck did a respectable, crime fighter posing as a criminal become fodder for cheap comedy antics by the latest “in” comic of the time. It’s The Green Hornet you asses! Not The Green Funny Fat Man WIth A Lot Of Energy Bumbling Up The Screen!

Ok... apologies to Seth Rogen for that last crack. This is the first movie I’ve seen with him in it and he actually has a really great and likeable personality... I just think it’s wrong for The Hornet. And there’s some seriously, nicely inventive stuff in this movie including some neat little side-swipes at cinematic grammar... like when the split screens keep breaking off into little other split screens add nauseam until you end up trying to keep up with about twenty of the little buggers all at the same time. Not particularly funny but a nice comment on the nature of that particular movie convention.

But there’s also a lot wrong with it. Cristoph Waltz, hot off the screen from his absolutely brilliant turn as the villain in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is the main villain in this one... and his opening scene with James Franco (uncredited) is absolutely gobsmacking brilliant... mainly because it’s written really well for Waltz and, as always, Waltz does something unbelievably good with it. But for a villain... he’s really not in it that much and, in my humble opinion, when he is... the scripted dialogue just isn’t up to it. Waltz is trying to weave gold out of raw material that is far from sparkly and it sometimes falls a little flat. He’s very good at it, however, and one of the things I will say about this movie... starting right at Seth Rogen’s door, is that it’s incredibly well acted by all and sundry. Not a bad one in them... just not a lot of scope for some of them either, I reckon.

But my one really big gripe about this movie is... The Lone Ranger! He’s not mentioned. Whaaaaaaaat the-? One of the things about The Green Hornet is he is a descendent of The Lone Ranger... exactly how he’s descended changes over the years... which I guess it would have to if all the remakes and continuations of the franchise take a leaf out of this film and don’t set it in the 1930s like it’s supposed to (another of my gripes about the current movie... Why set it now? "Now" looks rubbish.). It makes aesthetic sense too... both characters fight for justice and wear a mask and both characters have faithful side kicks... Tonto = Kato. But the new movie makes absolutely no mention of this silver mine of a connection! Okay then... own up! Which rival company has got the rights to The Lone Ranger character tied up! Why does art have to get f*cked by money all the time!

Anyway... nice end credits to the movie at least. In fact... I’d have to say the stylishly designed end credits sequence in 3D was the highlight of the movie. It would have been even better without all those rowdy Saturday night movie-goers getting up and walking out in front of the screen while I was trying to watch them.

Oh well. I’ve said all I can really say about this movie. Not sure if I could sit through it again... although I suspect it won’t be long before this one gets a sequel.


  1. I only saw the first hour of this movie because the projector in my theater broke, but from what I saw I agree with your comments. The action was well-filmed (one of the main reasons I even wanted to see this was out of curiosity for Michel Gondry directing an action flick), and the actors were having fun. But the tone and time period just doesn't fit with the Hornet.

    My biggest issue was that the Hornet was so useless- why not just make Kato the star? He's so capable!

    And I didn't even think about the Lone Ranger thing! You're right, that's a poor omission!

  2. Yeah... I prefer Gondry's The Science of Sleep. Must watch that again.

    Thanks for the comment!