The Green Hornet is a movie that you will want to like in spite of itself and it is the amazing 3D technology and glittering action that keeps your attention, not the story or the acting by the two main actors.
The new Batman series opened the door for superhero movies surpassing even the iconic Spiderman – #10 all-time domestically compared to #3 for The Dark Knight (as of this writing) and what made the sequel to Batman Begins so special was the sublime acting job by the late Heath Ledger and a level of seriousness from director Christopher Nolan and film star Christian Bale. Rather than take a cue from this wonderful approach to the psychology of extralegal activities, rather than build upon the legend that Van Williams and the immortal Bruce Lee gave to a mere 1960s television program, director Michael Gondry goes sideways with The Green Hornet. And it’s a shame that he does, but – with that in mind, the motion picture still has merit.
The beautiful Cameron Diaz on the filmmaker’s approach said “This is its own thing…we’re creating our own version of it”…and that they’ve done in this visually stunning epic which is more about superb 3D and special effects than plot, character development and/or a logical approach to a legendary vigilante. “I want the head of the Green Hornet” is a terrific line, but the mobsters, including Christoph Waltz and co-star of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Edward Furlong are not used to their full potential. Indeed, as I write this, as if on “cue”, Seth Rogen is saying on YouTube: “We’ve been completely wasting our potential.”
Yes, the potential of what this film could have been evaporates with the comedy forced into a once serious figure, and the thought of a sequel taking the same direction makes the dedicated comic book/radio serial fan shudder. Batman Begins was the reinvention after Batman And Robin, the George Klooney/Joel Schumacher debacle/disaster. That Gondry couldn’t learn from the mistakes of past filmmakers means it is all about commercialism and not about art and commercialism. Christopher Nolan proved that you can achieve both without selling out. The look down at Gotham City from the skyscraper is dynamic movie making. Seth Rogen dancing with his girl-of-the-moment through his dad’s wonderful collection of cars (guaranteed to whet even Jay Leno’s appetite for autos), is beautifully recorded, but that should have been the end of the jokes. It worked, but like a sophomore excited by the positive reaction he gets from one great line, the timing is lost and with it the balance so necessary for repeated viewings.
If Avatar gave us a glimpse of extraordinary 3D in a fantasy world, The Green Hornet does succeed in proving that 3D can take the settings in our everyday reality and make it all a spectacular film experience. Too bad the superb performance of Cameron Diaz wasn’t an inspiration to the rest of the cast. Yes, the film is entertaining, but it certainly isn’t The Green Hornet. Guess we’ll have to wait till June 2011 when Ryan Reynolds hits the screen as The Green Lantern.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.