Friday, January 21, 2011

The Green Hornet

Spoiler Level: High

Okay, my usual disclaimer... once again, I'm not familiar with any of the source material.  I've never heard the radio show, I've never read any Green Hornet comics, and I've only seen clips of the TV series.  So I can really only evaluate this movie on how well it works completely on its own.

In that regard: pretty good.  Not great, but definitely enjoyable.  There are buddy comedies out there, and buddy action movies, and this is most definitely a buddy comedy action film.  It is not a super hero movie with witty moments; it's definitely a comedy from start to finish.  It's not  just for laughs; it definitely has action from start to finish.  And it is most definitely the story about the friendship between Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou).

The thing is, it does successfully juggle all three aspects.  It's genuinely funny and made me laugh quite a lot, the action is intense and very cool to watch, and the friendship between the lead characters is never dull.

I was surprised with how violent it is; it's a very, very strong PG-13.  It manages to say a lot of naughty words in just about every scene without dropping the F-bomb, but hey, that's Seth Rogen for you.  It also manages a very high body count without very much blood. There are lots of great scenes with the Black Beauty, which is their tricked-out car loaded with machine guns, missiles, a flame thrower and lots of other cool gimmicks.  Chase scenes can be pretty boring if not done right, but when it turns out there's hidden machine guns in the car doors, that keeps it pretty interesting.  And Kato has some fantastic martial arts scenes.

The only ball that may be considered dropped here is Lenore (Cameron Diaz).  She's there to be the expert in criminology and journalism that Britt & Kato need, and of course to be the center of Britt and Kato's rivalry.  But she never really gets fleshed out as a character.  She's not interested in either of them; why not?  Is she just out of a bad relationship?  Is she just serious about keeping things professional?  Are they just not her type? It's never really said.  In fact, nothing's really said about her life besides that she's studied criminology and wants to be a journalist.  Now, to be fair, I'm not too bent out of shape that the movie doesn't explore a romance between her and either of the guys-- there's enough in the movie already, and adding a romance might have been too much.  But for being such a prominent character, she could have used just a few more scenes of exposition to make her seem a little more human.

The only other gripe I have is that Britt never really gets it together; he has a wonderful scene at the end of the film where he begins to come into his own, and we start to see him as the hero he wants to be... and then he flubs it.  It's a bit disappointing to see him constantly fail throughout the film.  I suppose that would be the only place where the balance between the comedy and the action doesn't work.  Britt's heart is in the right place, he's risking his life in a hail of bullets... at that point I want to cheer for him when he makes it, not laugh at him for failing yet again.

But other than those quibbles, the film was a lot of fun to watch.  My friend and I chose to see the 2D version, because I'd heard that the film had a few scenes shot in 3D, but the majority of it had been shot in 2D and had the 3D effects added on.  It's real easy to tell which scenes were shot in 3D, and to be honest I didn't feel they lost anything by being in 2D.  And I mean that as a compliment; they still looked that cool, even without the glasses.

Oh, and one side note... I didn't intend for this to be a green-themed week, but I wound up reviewing Green Arrow, Green Hornet and Soylent Green all in the same week!  If I had realized that was what I was doing, I would have waited until St. Patrick's Day!

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