The Green Hornet Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 17th, 2013 at 11:57 pm,

green hornet review The Green Hornet Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews The Green Hornet

Hey, are you old enough to remember when everyone freaked out about Michael Keaton being cast as Batman because he was a comedic actor, didn’t have the look nor the stature to play the iconic masked vigilante – but in the end it turned out to be a daring bit of casting and pretty damned cool?

Well that didn’t happen with The Green Hornet.

The Green Hornet movie has a (troubled) history going back to mid-2007 when rumors first floated that Seth Rogen would be playing the titular hero (and writing the script). Initially Stephen Chow (director of the hysterically funny Kung Fu Hustle) was set to play the role of Kato (the sidekick), and then came word that Chow would be directing as well. Well a few months passed and that sequence reversed itself: Chow was not going to direct (due to creative differences) but would still play Kato. A few more weeks go by and Chow bowed out of the project completely.

Having seen the final product, I am left seriously wondering what a Stephen Chow-directed Green Hornet film would have been like.

I’m sure I will be hit with the standard “Hey, can’t you just enjoy a fun movie?” argument, so let me preface this review by saying that I am a fan of director Michel Gondry’s very funny Be Kind Rewind. And while I’m not a huge Seth Rogen fan, I did enjoy Superbad, which he co-wrote.

Enough preamble. In this latest incarnation of The Green Hornet, Britt Reid (Rogen) is the son of a newspaper magnate who didn’t have time for him as a child (his mother died when he was young). Dad is stern and has high standards – and Britt rebels by going the opposite direction and ending up as a 30 year old, irresponsible party boy. After one last “I’m disappointed in you” his father dies of a bee sting (he’s allergic), leaving the newspaper and wealth to a son who is not only unprepared for the responsibility – he doesn’t want it.

He comes to know Kato (now played by Jay Chou), who was not only his father’s auto mechanic (garage full of gorgeous, rare automobiles), but he makes an incredible cup of coffee using an espresso machine he built himself. Britt comes to learn that his father was paranoid about security and has had Kato build some pretty hard core defenses into “Black Beauty” – a very cool black sedan from the late 60s. They become friends (kind of) and with both of them feeling the need for some excitement (and maybe, purpose) one thing leads to another and they decide to form a crime-fighting duo. But in order to be more effective (and this really doesn’t make much sense) they decide that the best way to help people and be “the good guys” is to pretend to be bad guys.

While Kato has extreme martial arts skills in addition to apparently being able to assemble multiple heavily armored and weaponized cars from scratch in the span of days (by himself), Britt has basically zero skills. Of any sort, whatsoever. While this is obviously to be milked for laughs, within the context of the film (especially as it moves ahead) it seems more ridiculous and annoying as it goes on.

jay chou seth rogen green hornet The Green Hornet Review

Jay Chou and Seth Rogen in 'The Green Hornet'

While their goal is to disrupt gang crime in Los Angeles, they draw the attention of an old school crime boss named Chudnofsky (played by Christoph Waltz, who was amazing in Inglourious Basterds). Chudnofsky, while seemingly on his way out as young up and comers try to take over is not someone to be trifled with – in fact he’s even more dangerous than ever because he feels like he’s losing respect and authority among the crime bosses in the area. Also drawn into the fray is Cameron Diaz (less annoying than usual) as Britt’s secretary/assistant. Britt and Kato are clueless about the workings of the criminal mind and she happens to be very well versed in that based on her degree in journalism.

As you can probably guess, eventually the duo gets in over their head and have to not only figure out how to save themselves from being killed, but how to overthrow Chudnofsky as well.

I have to say, Green Hornet started out (surprisingly) on a very high note. The opening scene with Waltz as the older gangster meeting with a younger, disrespectful younger crime boss (who I won’t name to keep the surprise) started out cautiously, but just got better and better as it went on. It was, in fact, damn funny. But immediately on its heels comes the aftermath, in which there are a lot of people killed, which kind of hits you upside the head right as you come off a very funny scene. That point notwithstanding, the film does an excellent job of introducing and establishing the main characters within the span of the first 10 minutes or so. Films have tried to do that before and failed (*cough* The Losers *cough*).

We see that yes, Britt is a complete ass and Kato is a faithful, hardworking guy. We soften a bit (JUST a bit, and temporarily) towards Britt as he wants to learn about Kato and what he did for Britt’s father, and it’s fun to watch Kato introduce Britt to the cool stuff he worked on and did for dear, departed dad, and gives insight into what sort of person he was. Although it starts down the “ridiculous” slide, their excitement about doing something exciting and adventurous is almost contagious – and their first experience taking down a bunch of street punks is fun and a super-cool action/fight scene.

Unfortunately, that right there (about 20-30 minutes in) ends the “high note” and is where the downward slide begins.

Reid continues to be an insufferable ass throughout the entire film, and the longer it goes on the dumber it seems that he’s out there risking his life against seasoned criminals. Sure, Kato is there to watch his back – but that brings up another point: Why in the world is this supposedly very grounded and intelligent guy sticking around a flighty, irresponsible egomaniac who takes him for granted?

There are many car chase scenes, all very hyper-kinetic with lots going on – and here is another sticking point: There was more than one instance where their chase through the city causes police cars to go flying into other vehicles – if they’re truly trying to be “the good guys,” what about all the collateral damage they’re causing? Bystanders just driving nearby, taking the bus, etc. whose vehicles get totally destroyed (with passengers within)? Oh and there was one scene included to show off the bullet proof glass where during a police chase, a cop pulls up next to them and opens fire. Really? Cops shoot at you when you just try to outrun them without having shot first? And don’t get me started on the scene where they use missiles in an unconventional manner to get out of a tight spot.

Cameron Diaz seemed almost like a character inserted after the script was written, and James Olmos didn’t make much of an impact, even with his built in gravitas. Christoph Waltz also seemed almost like his scenes were spliced in from a different film – all very disconnected and odd-feeling.

There were other things that didn’t work, either… It seemed quite seriously like those involved (Rogen?) really, REALLY wanted this to be an R-rated movie, but were locked into PG-13 due to the subject matter. Why do I say that? Because I can honestly not remember the last time I watched a PG-13 with so much profanity. I didn’t try to keep count of the number of s-bombs Rogen drops in the film, but I would have lost it anyway – had to be at least a couple dozen. Add to that one or two a-holes, b*tch and I don’t know what else. Frankly, it felt completely superfluous and it just added to the obnoxious, unlikability of Rogen/Britt. You can have an obnoxious protagonist, but when you start rooting for the bad guys, you have a problem.

green hornet cameron diaz seth rogen The Green Hornet Review

Cameron Diaz and Seth Rogen in 'The Green Hornet'

And that’s the problem with Rogen’s Reid – the guy is such a monumental jerk that it’s hard to get past it. He treats the guy who is keeping him alive in the field like he should be happy to be allowed to come along, he’s a disgusting example of an over-cocky, sexually harassing pig with his secretary (Diaz), and just all around supremely annoying. By the end of the movie you’re not hoping for redemption, you’re hoping someone puts him in the hospital.

Also, this was pretty violent for a PG-13 movie that is sure to attract parents to bring their kids. Sure, you have violence in PG-13 movies, even superhero movies – but do we need close ups of two different people who’ve been crushed to death in a “light-hearted” semi-superhero comedy? If you’re thinking this looks like a “fun” romp the kids would enjoy, I recommend you reconsider and leave them at home for this one.

Will you like it? Maybe. Some of the audience I attended the screening with seemed to enjoy it. Am I saying it’s not funny or not worth seeing? No. There were moments beyond the first act where I laughed – not a lot, but a couple. There were tons of cool action scenes and Jay Chou’s martial arts fights were exciting (when you could tell what was going on due to the super fast editing in some scenes), and director Michel Gondry did some interesting things, visually. These items and the first act are why I’ve gone as high as 2.5 stars on this.

But overall, The Green Hornet is an uneven mix that’s not nearly as funny or enjoyable as it could have been.

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[poll id="113"]

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

TAGS: 2 star movies, green hornet

150 Comments

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  1. I think you know Hollywood’s getting desperate for ideas when it starts bringing back the Green Hornet.

  2. I really liked this movie. I’d watch it again, tell my friends its great, and I hope that there’s a sequel.

  3. I actually enjoyed this movie. The main problem I had with the plot was that they did, actually, have an excessive amount of collateral damage to innocent civilians when they were trying to be “the good guys”. I was troubled by this at first, but then later on in the film helped to show that Rogen and Chou had no idea what they were doing, and were acting on impulse. It showed that they were truly “clueless superheroes”, which helped for the comedy. I think why many people didn’t like this was because it seemed like the director was going for a serious-funny movie, like Kick-Ass, but ended up flopping and becoming a comedy full of ridiculous notions.

  4. I went to see this movie in 2D because i heard the 3D wasnt that good. Me and a few buddies went to see it together. I was actually really surprised how much i liked it. Its not your typical superhero movie that is for sure but if you want some good humor and a little action this is a good movie. I would recomend it. Thanks 1st time poster

  5. I completely disagree with your review. I have actually seen the movie twice since I liked it so much. I’m starting to think i can’t trust your reviews anymore (First Tron now this). Well I guess it’s a matter of opinion but I loved it.

  6. I really enjoyed this movie. It’s not your typical hero story. It’s about a kid wanted to help people, but had a jerk for a father. He grew up in defiance, becoming a rich party boy with no ambition in life. When his father dies he meets Kato, a poor asian boy who grew up in the ghetto and had to learn martial arts to survive, but all that changed when he was hired by James Reid. Britt and kato decide to become heroes posing as bad guys and they have know idea what they’re doing, starting an all out gang war. I think there was a moral to the story, Kato learns to have more confidence in himself and step up. Britt learns that being a rich prick is wrong and he learns how to treat people. The 3D wasn’t that great, but that’s post-conversion for you LOL. Yes, I’ll agree that Rogen had too many lines, some were just dumb, but it didn’t ruin the story.

  7. good movie

  8. That was a Great MOVIE!!! I havent laughed at a movie like in along time. The action was great! And I dont know why you would bring your kids to these, but i will never complain about violence in movies, i mean, c’mon! If your not a seth rogen fan, why would you see it? If you like seth rogen, then watch this movie! I’ve seen the some of the classic Green Hornet, and they are good, but I love the direction with this movie cuz , it aint so damn serious! Not I guess they coulda toned down and made this flick a little more serious, but either way, I enjoyed.

  9. A couple nights ago, I caught The Green Hornet with a male friend and we formed the consensus that it was absolutely fantastic! Yes, my muffled shrieking was meant for the best musician in the definable universe, Jay Chou, who just happened to play Kato, but TGH as an action comedy is gold alone. The film’s success can be attributed to the solid combination of witty/dude humor, sick auto reinforcements, tricky camera angles, extreme street chases, surprisingly stimulating 3D, and the unpredictability of what will happen next. Recommendation status: Platinum

  10. it was gr8, had me laughing.. i didnt like that he was a jerk and a few other things but other than that it was a gr8 movie.. hopefully there is a part 2 and he can be more serious! love love loved the carsthey were gucci

  11. I really liked the movie. I always appreciated the Green Hornet from the Van Williams TV days. I am curious why Mr.Williams has not said anything yea or nay about the movie. Last I checked, he was still alive.

    Anyway, I hope the make a series of movies. Yes, it does need some tweaking here and there. A tad less Rogan (but no knock on Seth), more about Kato’s past, what is Lenores big hangup of not being more personable? They could bring in another comic book vigilante? Maybe a kung fu rival for Kato? ++SPOINLER ALERT!+++ The movie showed where Kato could not swim and nothing of it later came back. Perhaps Britt and Lenore could help him swim (plus see Cameron Diaz in a swimsuit 8-) ) and in return Kato could help Britt with a few extra fighting steps. Plus the TV Hornet and this sonic device that could be introduced? It would be fun to see a subtle cameo by Mr. Williams.

    I think there has to be a way to have Rogan’s GH, yes put his foot in his mouth, but have a more partnership with Kato than the first. Maybe cast (wishful thinking) Jackie Chan as an estranged father/rival for Kato? Or some really big WWE/NFL dude make more of a physical challenge? Just some my ideas. If I had money and some power in Hollywood, I would invest in another GH movie. This movie is not a bomb and has room for improvement. If Mr. Rogan is up for it.

    One more thing and please spare my self indulgence? What if GH and Kato was on Smallville? Wonder how Clark would have handled them? Plus his Justice League friends? Britt and Oliver could be some newspaper rivals but when in their respective garb be allies without realizing who each other was. By the way, think Lenore has a Lois Lane quality to her?

    Finally, I can relate to the Green Hornet because he would be who I want to be at a Halloween party should I ever go to one. Easy to get a hat and long coat. I can use these giant green glasses used at eye doctors as a mask. I once had one back in the 90′s. Actually was pretty good driving in them over my glasses.

    Thanks for the time and thank you Mr.Rogen for doing a great job with The Green Hornet!

  12. Only 2 1/2 stars? I found it to be really good, actually.

  13. Glad I waited till it came to the cheap theater. Even at $4 bucks AND in 3D it was still a waste of time and money.
    You were generous at 2 1/2 stars..

  14. That was one of the worst films I have seen in a long time.

  15. It’s witty, I like it. But even though I

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