Turning A Sharp Eye on THE GREEN HORNET


“Want to see something cool?”

THE GREEN HORNET is the first sci-fi film I’ve been able to get into at a Dallas screening, but the third of three free movies I was able to see this week at the Cinemark West Plano (shout out to the staff there for being super cool all three nights and for the concession stand that had mint chocolate chip ice cream & waffle cones!).  Can’t say enough good things about that Cinemark.  Nice, clean theaters, comfortable leather stadium seating that reclines, and an IMAX-ish screen (saw SANCTUM there on Wednesday night).  Go see ’em, tell ’em I sent ya, ’cause a couple of ’em know me by name, now, too, after just three days.

I’ve wanted to see THE GREEN HORNET since I saw the first trailer, my friend Olivia agreed to be my plus one & my other friend Jennifer had a pass of her own to use, so I knew I’d be in good, geeky company on Thursday night.

The screening was not in the IMAX-ish theater, but it was in 3D.  Three different website representatives had their say before the movie, and that was a bit of an annoyance, mostly because all three of ’em were allowed to drive the Black Beauty when it toured through Dallas, and they all bragged about having video footage to put on their respective websites “tomorrow.”  I write for a website, why didn’t anyone let me drive the Black Beauty?  ’cause that car kicks all kinds of butt in the movie.

No trailers or anything, just a notice for the audience to put on their glasses, and the movie starts…

Young Britt is in trouble with his father (Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson), because of a fight at school.  He tries to explain that there was a bully bothering a girl, but the father’s response is basically, “Good intentions don’t matter when you always fail.”

Ouch.

Twenty years later, Britt (Seth Rogan) is a drunk reveler causing property damage and tabloid headlines, while his father is still hard at work running the Daily Sentinel newspaper in Los Angeles.  Britt is chastised yet again for his behavior,  and shortly after, Reid Senior dies from an allergic reaction to a bee sting, leaving the media empire the irresponsible son.  At first, he tells Axford (Edward James Olmos), the senior editor for the Sentinel, that he doesn’t know anything about the newspaper & that it’s all up to the editor to run it however he likes.

When Britt and Kato (Jay Chou in his American film debut) perform an act of childish vandalism, they wind up caught up in a fight with a group of thugs, which makes Britt look like the bad guy on the news.  And that’s when he gets the big idea to pose as a villain to be a good guy, while Kato things he is too fast for television, since he isn’t in any of the security footage being reported on the news.  And while Kato puts together an armored car, the Black Beauty, Britt tries out different costume ideas and uses the newspaper to perpetuate the myth of the Green Hornet.

Meanwhile, there’s the crime lord of Los Angeles, Chudnofsky (Oscar winner Christoph Waltz), who is suffering a midlife crisis of sorts, after being disrespected by a club owner/drug dealer (James Franco), and feeling threatened by the growing legend of the Green Hornet.  He even goes so far as to create a villain’s costume to compete with the Green Hornet’s all green clothing & mask.

And there’s also Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), Britt’s new secretary at the Sentinel, who Britt pumps for information about criminology to figure out how to act as the Green Hornet while Kato tries to impress & date her.

Lots of star quality on the screen, very cool stuff going on, and it’s in 3D!

All that being said, the only thing I know about the history for the Green Hornet franchise is that it started as a radio show in the ’30s, and there was a cameo of the Hornet with Kato in the classic BATMAN television series in the ’60s.  That’s pretty much it.  And I think that that helped me enjoy the movie more, since I wasn’t sitting there wondering if the script co-written by Seth Rogan went with the history of the character.

Seth Rogan’s Britt is a goofball screw up, even as the Green Hornet, he’s still dumb.  The mask doesn’t make him more brave. The gas gun doesn’t help him fight better, though it is cool (my favorite gadget of the movie).  And, to be honest, Rogan’s weight loss was impressive.  He really slimmed down from his usual chubbiness.

Jay Chou’s Kato does all the work and kicks all the butt, and he even has the special effects for his fight sequences. And all through the movie, Kato is dissed & dismissed as the sidekick, the chauffer, Britt’s “man” when he’s really the brains of the operation.  I remember back in the days of LETHAL WEAPON 4, there was the story that Jet Li had to slow down to be filmed, that he moved too fast for his actions to be recorded.  I wonder if Chou is the same way…but back then, Li’s actions weren’t surrounded by cool camera use & effects. Time will tell on that one.

Cameron Diaz is about useless as Lenore, though she did get a couple of laughs.  My friend Jennifer said she’s looking her age, too.  By the way, she’s not even forty yet, though I will agree she will never look as good as she did in that first scene of THE MASK.  But I do think if there’s a sequel, there should be a stronger role for a woman than Lenore.

Tom Wilkinson only has a couple of scenes, one of which includes wearing a bad wig. And I’m hoping that Edward James Olmos has a larger role in the sequel, if there is a sequel, because EJO himself is super cool.

Cristoph Waltz is the real star of the movie. He’s all kinds of fun to watch and it makes me want to check out INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.  His two barrel Glock isn’t a match for the gas gun, though.

Now, Thursday’s screening was 3D.  The movie was not filmed with 3D cameras, but was converted in postproduction.  And the conversion works for me, and aside from a few cheap gimmicks, it’s not “in your face” 3D.  I don’t think a postproduction conversion will ever look as good as a movie like, say, AVATAR or even PIRANHA 3D (2010), which were filmed with the 3D cameras.  And yes, I saw PIRANHA 3D, paid to see it at a midnight screening last summer, introduced by Eli Roth.  I admit it, and I told my friends, too, for which I was ragged properly.

And because Jason likes it when I talk about music, I’ll say this.  There’s a mix of classical Beethoven-type music with some techno beats for Britt’s party scenes & the bad guys being bad guys.  Jay Chou is credited for writing & performing one of the songs, and performing another, as well.  But I think my favorite part was the use of Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s Paradise’, which is used in one of the television commercials, but not all of it, and it does play well with Britt & Kato bonding as friends & partners.

Anyway…

I say go see THE GREEN HORNET, it’s well worth it and I hope there’s a sequel in the next couple of years.  My friend Jennifer agreed that it was a good movie that wasn’t “stupid dumb,” which was what she was expecting from a Seth Rogan movie.  And my friend Olivia has said it was “really great” and I think she laughed at the movie more than I did.
And, finally, there were a number of freebies at the screening – temporary tattoos, gourmet popcorn prizes, t-shirts for trivia answers – but I want to give a special shout out to Mark Walters of http://www.BigFanBoy.com for the free movie posters.  Screenings in Austin, if there are posters given out, there’s no guarantee that everyone will get one.  But at Thursday’s screening, Mark and his people from Big Fan Boy made sure everyone who walked out of the theater, which had every seat filled for the movie, got a full sized poster.  I just thought that was cool, and think they deserve the shout out for putting out the effort.

Tom Sharp
Comanche County, Texas
http://twitter.com/austinpangeeks

3 thoughts on “Turning A Sharp Eye on THE GREEN HORNET

  • January 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm
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    As to the history of the character, The Green Hornet was a full-fledged TV series, not just a couple of guest-appearances on BATMAN! It only lasted one season, but it was kinda fun and cool for it’s time. It was a little too much LIKE Batman for the adults, and not ENOUGH like Batman for the kiddies. I liked it back then, but I was a weird kid. And Bruce Lee’s Uber-Cool shone through even back then.
    Note: Per the history of the character, the 30’s Britt Reid was a Great-Nephew or something of The Lone Ranger!

    Reply
    • January 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, Britt Reid was originally the great-nephew of The Lone Ranger. His grandfather was the older brother, Capt. Dan Reid, who led the Texas Rangers posse that was ambushed in Canyon Gap, TX. The Reid fortune comes from the same silver mine the Lone Ranger used for his bullets and Silver’s horseshoes.

      The Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet have a lot in common, since they were created by the same team of Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. Trendle, boss at WXYZ radio, wanted to replicate the success of “The Lone Ranger” radio show, and so duplicated the format and pulled it into the modern era.

      Reply
  • January 17, 2011 at 3:26 am
    Permalink

    My pleasure, and thanks for the shout out! I always try to give a little something back to the fans. At the TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT screening a few nights prior, it was t-shirts, and at this one it was posters. I do what I can… whenever the studios play ball. 🙂

    Reply

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