Green Hornet, The

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For months there have been rumors about the troubled production of Michel Gondry’s new 3D action comedy “The Green Hornet.” As you may know, there have been changes in concept, cast, directors, and so on.

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The first thing that strikes me about The Green Hornet is its childish sensibility. The movie’s humor, plot, action, all seems targeted at very young males.
 
I expect critical response to be divided, and I am not sure about the movie’s commercial prospects, as the 3D effects are decent but no more, and the same can be said about the action set pieces and production values. 
 

Born in the 1930s as a radio serial, “The Green Hornet” garnered fans in all media, not only on radio, but in film serials, comic books, and, for one season in the 1960s, a TV series that catapulted Bruce Lee to stardom in the U.S.  It’s hard to tell whether the new feature will make the masked avenger popular among a new generation of fans.
 

The screenplay, credited to actor Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who are also executive directors), based upon “The Green Hornet” radio series created by George W. Trendle, is sharply uneven and also repetitive. But fans of Seth Rogen the actor will enjoys the film for here, after mostly playing second bananas and character roles, he gets to play the lead, kind of a tongue-in-cheek hero.
 
The tale begins with Britt Reid as a young boy, governed by the strong and harsh treatment of his domineering father (Tom Wilkinson), L.A.’s most prominent and respected media magnate. Dad thinks his son is an idiot and failure in everything he does and touches.
 
Cut to Reid as a young, hedonistic man, perfectly happy and willing to maintain a directionless existence, hopping from party to party, unburdened by any responsibility—or job.
 
Things change dramatically, when his father suddenly dies in some mysterious circumstances, and Britt needs to take control of the vast media empire. 
 
From that point on, the tale assumes the shape of a male buddy adventure, based on the unlikely friendship that Britt strikes with one of his father’s more industrious and inventive employees, Kato (Jay Chou).
 
To describe their characters and relationship, at least initially, as the Odd Couple, is an understatement. And the fact that there I not particularly strong chemistry between the two actors makes the film less enjoyable.
 
Even so, after bickering and fighting, and trying to outshine each other, they join forces, motivated by their chance to do something meaningful and worthy for the community for the first time in their lives: fight crime. 
 
To get close to the criminals, they come up with the perfect cover, pose as criminals themselves. Protecting the law by breaking it, Britt becomes the vigilante The Green Hornet as he and Kato hit the mean streets of L.A.
 
Following in the footsteps of the early James Bond, which introduced new gadgets and weaponry, some of the fun resides in watching how Kato, using his considerable ingenuity and remarkable technical skills, builds the ultimate in advanced retro weaponry, The Black Beauty, an indestructible car equal parts firepower and horsepower. 
 
Rolling in a mobile fortress on wheels and striking the bad guys with Kato’s clever gadgets, The Green Hornet and Kato quickly establish a reputation.
 
Fearing of alienating the potential female viewers for such fare, the saga introduces a sexy femme, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), who comes as a temp, moves up the ranks quickly to being Britt’s new secretary and partner.
 
Though shy and sexually insecure, both men (no, boys) show romantic interest in Lenore and she responds—kind off. She goes out on a date with Kato, which arouses Ritt’s jealousy.
 
But work is work, and the trio overcomes their personal interests and intrigues in order to hunt down the man who controls LA’s gritty underworld,
Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). 
 
It’s too bad that this is the first big studio movie for Waltz, who won the Supporting Actor Oscar for Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds.” Looking bad and playing a narrowly minded villain, Waltz runs the risk of being typecast as Hollywood’s new (foreign) villain.
 
Meanwhile, Chudnofsky, who insists on correct pronunciation of his name, has plans of his own. He wants to swat down The Green Hornet once and for all.
 
Fans of Bruce Lee who played Kato and Van Williams as Britt Reid in the previous, better, more entertaining version, will be disappointed with this mildly engaging juvenile fare.