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Green Hornet: The Reviewgitation

A reviewgitation of The Green Hornet with
Direcow Avatar Direcow,Kakita  Avatar Kakita and Korgath Avatar Korgath

At the beginning of the week pandemonium descended upon our simple island – Messers Gondry, Rogen and Chou had arrived to celebrate their first collaboration together – The Green Hornet. Sadly we didn’t have any invites for the show, and lest we drown in the hordes of Jay Chou fans (he sold out 3 consecutive nights of concerts in our biggest arena) we thought we’d just take the time and wait for opening day.

We would’ve loved to be at the premiere though! We would’ve made Seth Rogen and the rest feel a bit better (and not like they’re drowning in Jay Chou fans).

Based on the radio show (before video killed the radio star), but probably best remembered for the TV show starring Bruce Lee as Kato, The Green Hornet movie is a reimagining of it, looking forward and reinventing it for the modern audience, but always having a wink and a nod at the past. As mentioned, Director Michel Gondry helms a script written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and Starring Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet and Jay Chou as Kato.

Direcow  Avatar I’ll come right off the bat and say I liked it, and a lot. I won’t say it’s going to be the best movie of the year for sure or that someone deserves to win an Oscar for this, because that isn’t true. There’s a lot to point your finger and fault, especially if you want to get nitpicky. But at one point, as I sat back right in the middle of the movie to cogitate during a slight lull in the action – with what he was given, I doubt Gondry could have crafted anything better.

Kakita  AvatarMe too. The movie takes all expectations and turns it on its head. While its premise is definitely Green Hornet (Britt Reid is a vigilante that fights crime with his partner Kato, and is treated like a criminal), this is no Dark Knight or even Spiderman for that matter. It is not a superhero flick, but a buddy comedy with hero trimmings.

Direcow  Avatar To be honest I expected the film to be REALLY good, and I think it managed to scratch the spot. In faith, Gondry I have.

Kakita  Avatar Yeah but people who go in expecting a hero flick and not a Gondry flick (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for example) might be annoyed.

Korgath  AvatarI think it helps that the last time I saw any Green Hornet episodes was almost two decades ago, meaning my affection for the character is not bogged down by a fanatic need for accuracy. Still, it was definitely a better ‘remake’ of a 60s television series than say, the rather disappointing 2008 version of Get Smart, and I was definitely laughing harder this time around.

Kakita  Avatar Definitely. And well, Seth Rogen definitely helped. Being both main actor and co-writer for the movie means that Seth could definitely infuse his brand of humor and dialogue into the movie

Direcow  AvatarYep – you could see the handprints of Seth Rogen all over the script, and it does turn out to have some pretty good quips, especially some with deeper geek reference than others. (I usually know this when I’m laughing alone in the cinema.) Somehow I can’t remember all of them, but if anything, keep an eye out for old Green Hornet references!

Kakita  Avatar All the other actors pull all their weight as well. Cristoph Waltz is on form as creepy weird dude Chudnofsky (with awesome twin shooting action!), and Jay Chou is actually surprisingly watchable. Even with dubbing and weird engrish and the like. I was a BIT sad that Cameron Diaz was more of a plot device than an actual fully fledged character, but what can you do in a buddy flick, right?

Direcow  Avatar Acting wise for me – I could really feel Gondry squeezing every drop out of skill out of Jay Chou and Seth Rogen, and given that Jay wasn’t acting in his first language he pretty much got the point across. Jay was definitely better behind the mask, however. It’s a good thing Seth and Jay had some chemistry going, bringing the bromance to a nice level, but some of the drama between them definitely felt forced.

Christoph Waltz is hilarious watchable as usual, channeling quite a bit of Hans Landa from the end bit of Inglorious Basterds where he began to lose his grip on things, but he wasn’t doing anything groundbreaking here. And man, does Cameron Diaz look old! (Until you realise what they were doing by allowing her to look this way).

The show stealer? James Franco. The choice? Crystal Clear.

Korgath  AvatarWe came in a little late, so I dont know how much of the prologue we missed, but casting someone as recognisable as Edward James Olmos as Mike Axford in what was essentially a throwaway role, along with relative unknown David Harbour as District Attorney Scanlon seems like a tribute to the the movie’s decades-old origins but at the same time one done without any seeming thought. Still, you can’t fault Rogen for trying to “authenticate” his Green Hornet, unnecessary though it seemed.

That being said, I’m glad that my predictions back in June last year really came to life, what with Jay Chou really making magic as a Chinese Kato and the Black Beauty being a co-star in her own right. When it comes down to the crunch, Gondry doesn’t mess with an existing winning formula.

Direcow  Avatar I keep bringing it up, so I’ll tackle it head on here – what really made the movie for me was Michel Gondry. He’s pretty much my favourite director and he’s directed my second favourite movie of all time, so you might have to take all my fanboyism with a grain of salt. But from the moving camera to create action during moments of no action, to the fluid transitions between scenes, KATO VISION, the very Gondry-esque flashback scene and the huge huge reminder of Sugar Water, it all fell into place for me right there.

I wonder if I should have watched the movie in 3D, you could see the imprints of backconversion as the image warped during changes in the focal point of the movie, not to mention the ingenious use of 3D during the “Sugar Water” scene, but let it be said, that even in 2D, there are points where you know they were filming for 3D, but beyond that, it’s still way enjoyable.

And what’s Sugar Water? It’s a song by Cibo Matto, with the MTV directed by Gondry. Catch it here and watch The Green Hornet with it in mind, or just watch it after.

Having Stephen Chow direct (and star), I suspect, would have been a horrible decision. Oh – and another touch I’d like to mention – is how they quite cleverly avoided giving Kato a codename, and at the same time avoided Kato being named while he was in costume. It was a nice touch, and rather deftly done, I’d say.

Kakita  Avatar Man, I would’ve loved to see the bullet time and flashback sequences in 3d. That’s when I really knew I was watching a Gondry flick.

Direcow  Avatar There’s not much to summarise for me here – everything is very serviceable, from the acting to the action, but with the deft hand of Gondry behind it, the Green Hornet ends up being very enjoyable. I won’t say this is Gondry perfection, but Gondry helped. If you hate Rogen being Rogen, you might hate the show, but otherwise, contrary to the Rotten Tomatoes 46%, I give The Green Hornet 8/10.

Kakita  AvatarThe show was ultimately a decent show, even if it did fall a bit flat when trying to engender drama, what with it being essentially a comedy and all. Still, I enjoyed myself. Good for a laugh with the buddies and worth the price of admission. 6/10

Korgath  AvatarHaving grown up with the short lived television version of the show, I’m happy that yet another of my childhood memories is being recreated for a new generation, and happier that it’s something worth sharing. Critics have found The Green Hornet mediocre, but believe me when I say, mediocre movies dream of entertaining audiences they way this flick does. 7/10.

Final HBG Score: A nice round 7/10

The Green Hornet is out in movie theatres now, and if you’re planning to watch the movie and STILL want more Green Hornet goodness, we recommend the Green Hornet Mythbusters special. Tackling some of the pretty interesting movie moments, the Green Hornet Special will air on Jan. 28, 8:00 pm on Discovery Channel (HK/Sin).

kakita

Singapore’s resident Press Ganger, that is, the man to go to for Privateer Press’ WARMACHINE, and HORDES. Kakita also dabbles in Games Workshop’s WARHAMMER FANTASY and WARHAMMER 40K lines.

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