The Green Hornet Stings More Than the Bad Guys

Seth Rogen has made a staple for himself with R-Rated raunchy comedies. He frequently plays the same stoner character. In Green Hornet, he is hard-partying Britt Reid, a spoiled wealthy son of a prominent media icon. No transition was required for Rogen, as he essentially plays himself. He wrote the film’s script, so of course he had to include his “character” in the adaptation.

The Green Hornet is based off of a comic book inspired radio adventure series and a 1960s TV show, which starred Van Williams and Bruce Lee. Chinese music sensation Jay Chou had some heavy shoes to fill from his martial arts predecessor. Lee captured the attention of TV viewers with his fast-paced kung fu moves. It led his way to becoming a martial arts phenomenon in the early 70s.

Chou may not live up to the martial-arts legend, but he does have some solid fight scenes. He sprints across a row of cars to karate kick a guy in the head. Then, he punts a statue head at an enemy to break his leg. His superhero vision lets him track bad guys and plan out spectacular moves in advance.

There are some characters in the film that are bordering transparency. Edward James Olmos’ acting feels like it was imported straight from Battlestar Gallactica. It works great in outer space sci-fi grandeur, but not in a media office. He occasionally tries to hurl journalistic wisdom at the ignorant Britt Reid. For the most part, though, he wastes time and talent. Cameron Diaz feels out of place as Reid’s secretary, who he and Kato lust over. She unwillingly feeds Britt’s childlike mind with ideas on how to become a better antihero.

One standout performance in the film comes from Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz. The character’s colorful personality is reminiscent of his Inglorious Basterds villain. His sinister sneer is downright creepy. He is obsessed with filling his victims with fear. However, by the end of the film, the scariest thing about him is his hideous red jacket.

Kato expresses homophobia several times in the film. There is an especially disturbing moment at the end of the film where he refuses to give his partner a high five. “I can’t,” he said. Also, he says earlier in the film, “I’ll go with you on this journey, but I don’t want to touch you.” In the original Green Hornet, there was a distance between The Green Hornet and Kato. Perhaps, he is trying to maintain that distance in the new film. However, despite the refusal to make physical contact in a couple scenes, they have no problems getting close to each other as friends. Also, Kato has no problem with physical contact when he is pummeling his friend in the face during their mid-film brawl.

Michel Gondry could have done a better job putting the film together. The martial arts scenes with Chou play out nicely, but they are repetitive. In his past work, Gondry has proven his expertise in the visual realm. In The Green Hornet, the visual effects are lacking.

Rogen shouldn’t have written the script, hands down. His rowdy personality and antics don’t belong in a superhero movie, even if the film functions more as a satire than an action movie. Director Gondry suffers because he has to work with a dialogue heavy script that focuses on Rogen. The movie feels tiresome and, in the end, Green Hornet stings the audience more than it does the bad guys.