Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express) and Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) aren’t the first two names anyone immediately thinks of when they think superhero movie - and yet here we are. It’s a perplexing combination of cooks and the resulting broth is an uneven fusion of art-house flourishes and crude stoner humour that doesn’t entirely satisfy but isn’t without its merits either.
Co-written by Rogen and his Superbad partner Evan Goldberg, the out-of-shape comedian also pulls double duty as the star of the piece – incompetent playboy Britt Reid by day and equally incompetent masked vigilante by night. Rogen admirably got in shape for this role but while his physique is leaner, he still doesn’t quite scream superhero. No matter, The Green Hornet plays Rogen’s inadequacies to its advantage by poking fun at his character’s frat-boy cluelessness.
The story centres on Britt, a party boy slacker and son of a hardnosed newspaper magnate (Tom Wilkinson). When his father mysteriously dies, Britt is spurred to crime-fighting heroics, first to spite his dad’s legacy but eventually to defend it. Soon Britt discovers that his former butler Kato (Jay Chou) is a gadget-whiz and martial arts expert and enlists him as his sidekick.
The real talent behind this dynamic duo is Kato - he’s the one who can fight, the one with the brains and the one who builds all the cool superhero stuff, including a pimped-out Chrysler Imperial (the iconic Black Beauty) loaded with weapons, ejector seats and a sweet gramophone.
It’s too bad that the same can’t be said in real life. Jay Chou is stiff and delivers his dialogue as if he learnt his lines phonetically. It makes one long for Bruce Lee (who played Kato in the 60’s television show) though in all fairness, if Bruce Lee did punch in 3D the audience would’ve probably died.
The only thing more incomprehensible than Chou though - is the plot. The Green Hornet feels like it’s without a rudder and lacks the urgency that a superhero flick should have. The movie works much better when it’s just letting loose and having fun as an exuberant bromance comedy. Pineapple Express co-star James Franco even cameos as a newbie gangster in an early scene, which can even be taken out of context as a random sketch and still be uproariously funny.
The key to taking that scene, and indeed the whole movie up a whole notch is the presence of a fabulously deadpan Christoph Waltz as villainous mob boss Chudnofsky, who’s perpetually chuffed that his name is difficult to pronounce (a problem that he later hilariously remedies). Fresh off his Oscar win for Inglorious Basterds, nobody plays semi-hammy violent psychopaths better than Waltz.
There are sporadic Gondry-esque visuals (like a slow-mo effect dubbed ‘Kato-vision’ during fight scenes) but it soon becomes clear that a movie this traditional is a terrible platform to let a unique director like him shine. The comedy outweighs the action-movie aspects here and The Green Hornet is much more Rogen’s and Goldberg’s baby than it is Gondry’s.
Audiences must be warned that the 3D effects in this movie simply serve to muddle up your field of vision and is almost as unnecessary here as Cameron Diaz’s role.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini is 24-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for MetroWize Asia.
Hidzir was the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.
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