"Hornet" lacks any sting

Jan. 17, 2011, 8:42 p.m. | By Melodi Anahtar | 11 years, 4 months ago

Average directing, acting and effects ail "The Green Hornet"

There is no obvious reason for "The Green Hornet" to be a particularly bad movie. The film has decent actors, a superhero plot, special effects and it is in 3-D. Yet, it is missing a crucial component. Perhaps, it is simply lacking the spark of "The Dark Knight." Maybe, it is crammed with too many jokes for an action movie. Most likely, it is just the overwhelming mediocrity that persists throughout the whole film. "The Green Hornet" may be about a superhero, but it is far from super.

When his father dies, Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) becomes the owner of the one of the largest newspapers in the country. Reid's father had said that Reid had not done anything fulfilling with his life, so to prove him wrong, Reid teams up with Kato (Jay Chou), his late father's multi-talented garage technician, to fight crime on the big bad streets of Los Angeles. By posing as criminals, Reid and Kato are able to confuse the L.A. gangs and work against them. The hero life seems great at first, but the pair soon realizes it is not easy.

Director Michael Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") certainly knows how to make amazing movies. In "Eternal Sunshine," Gondry made a complex plot understandable and opened up his audience to a deep self-understanding. So why couldn't he direct a basic superhero story with the same success? It should have been especially easy given that Gondry a whole comic book series and a television series to work off of that provided him a coherent and meaningful plot.

Despite the unimpressive plot, "The Green Hornet" had its moments thanks to co-writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The two are prominent comedy writers who have worked together multiple times in the past on movies such as "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express." However, while their raunchy comedic style produced some jokes that were laugh-out-loud funny, some of their other jokes could not have been more out of place. A number of scenes that could have been the more serious scenes were turned into unnecessary standup opportunities. For example, when Reid finally realizes that he needs help fighting the gangs, instead of focusing on his realization, his dialogue gravitates towards Cameron Diaz's derrière.

With a star studded cast, there was no excuse for the acting in "The Green Hornet" to be anything less than legendary. Rogen has acted in and written a number of successful comedies; Cameron Diaz has won a handful of awards and has been nominated for dozens more. Even Christoph Waltz, who played the villainous gang leader Chudnofosky, must have left his sly attitude on the set of "Inglorious Basterds," because he is not able to recapture the destructive attitude necessary to play the head of all L.A. gangs. Where is the villainous passion that Heath Ledger was able to exemplify as the Joker? The audience leaves the theatre feeling only slightly attached to the characters and hardly moved by the actors' performances.

The one actor who showed his potential was Taiwan's singing and acting phenomenon, Jay Chou. Kato was a quality barista, a super-genius mechanic, a brother to Reid and a martial arts expert. To sum it up, Kato can beat up any bad guy, however big or small. Chou was clearly the most visible actor in all of his scenes and, although showy, his karate scenes were some of the most realistic fight sequences. Chou's action sequences are reminiscent of the legendary Jackie Chan's.

Thanks, mostly in part, to Chou's character, "The Green Hornet" has numerous shoot outs, car chases and explosions for action seekers who want to watch destruction in 3-D. However, for the majority of scenes that do not feature annihilation, the 3-D visuals are totally unnecessary. The fact that the best 3-D effects in the movie are found in the pop-out words and crazy patterns of the closing credits is a sign of ineffective use throughout the actual movie. Apart from making the shoulder shots more realistic, the extra dimension was not adequately utilized by the special effects crew.

On the bright side, whatever creativity the effects team lacked in 3-D application, they put into their design of the "Black Beauty." This car is the bomb, literally. It is equipped with weapons, including a flame thrower, machine gun and missiles, that are all used to obliterate anything that gets in its way. The designers of the Beauty also make humorous use of "front wheel drive" during a scene where part of the car gets chopped off and Kato has to drive around with only the front half intact.

Despite the fact that "The Green Hornet" was based on a comic book with so much potential, almost every aspect of the movie falls flat and amounts to a mediocre two hours without much to offer. "The Green Hornet" may deserve a spot on a Netflix queue, but is not worth a trip to the theatre, even in 3-D.
The Green Hornet (119 minutes) is rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content. Now playing in theatres everywhere.

Melodi Anahtar. Melodi Anahtar loves anything having to do with science, music or TV. Her favorite vacation spot is the Dominican Republic and her favorite city is Boston (go Red Sox). She can usually be found wasting time in her room, either watching "Grey's Anatomy" or reading … More »

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