This movie was a little iffy when I first heard of the lead and that there was a comedy angle to it. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked as well as it did. The original Green Hornet was a pulp character from the old days of radio, so there is not going to be the same kind of geek reverence for the characters that most superheros in movies now get. The vast majority of older people that remember the Green Hornet do not recall the radio show but instead think of the TV series that was spun off of the Batman TV show in the mid-sixties. That show was mostly forgettable except for the actor that played the Hornet’s sidekick, a guy named Bruce Lee.
In the new film, the Kato character is the one with most of the great moves. He is a co-equal and in many aspects superior to the titular character. Both of these guys are in over their heads, but only Kato knows it and has any idea how to get them out of it. If you want a serious superhero movie wait for one of the many that are coming this summer, the Green Hornet is an action-comedy, with a lot of the slacker humor that you would expect from Seth Rogan. The martial arts work provided by Jay Choi is solid, but it is all CG enhanced with a variety of visual effects. This is done largely to take advantage of 3-D technology that was used to present the film with. The acting and acrobatics are fine but the cool factor that came from Bruce Lee kicking butt by himself is largely missing.
Most of the story is boiler plate hero stuff, so there are no big surprises. The bad guy is not very well fleshed out but Christoph Walsh, our current winner of best supporting actor in “Inglorious Basterds “, does what he can to make him interesting and fun. If you are not a fan of Seth Rogan’s brand of humor, you will not care much for this picture. On the other hand, if you have found him funny in anything, this should go down pretty well. I think he has been a little overexposed in the last few years, so by focusing on this movie and not showing up in every other comedy opening in the last twelve months, he gave us enough of a break to appreciate this work. I was very entertained and enjoyed the movie for what it was. There are several bits of humor that are great sight gags and also enough verbal bi-play to make you need to pay attention to the dialogue.
The supporting cast is good, although you can tell from the first time you meet him that one of the bad guys is indeed a bad guy. Tom Wilkerson is only in the movie for a few brief scenes, and his character is not really pleasant, but you know he is a class act. I think we spent a minute trying to confirm that James Franco was in the movie. I guess after Pineapple Express he and Seth are buddies. Cameron Diaz is third billed and does almost nothing. She is not bad, she is mostly superfluous to the plot.
It will not win any awards, and you may not remember much about it after you have seen it, but while in the theater, you will be pleased. We saw it in 3-D and the effects work pretty well. I did not think that the 3-D was essential to any of the story or humor, but it did not hurt my eyes and there were a couple of scenes that benefit from some eye-popping moments. The movie looks well made, there is no aura of cheapness about it. The color tones with the Hornet and Kato, driving around town do a good job creating a little bit of mystery and panache. At the end of the day, it is still a story about a doofus that tries to be a hero (“Kick Ass” anyone?), and the toys that he uses to accomplish this.