Following the death of his father, Britt Reid, heir to his father’s large company, teams up with his late dad’s assistant Kato to become a masked crime fighting team.
Hey, hey people! The Black Saint & all of his acolytes hope the new year has been good & grisly to each & every one of you. Despite my extremely busy schedule (gathering new worshippers, punishing those who aren’t on the bandwagon as of yet, etc..etc..) I still find the time to take in a movie every so often. And I love to share the experience with all of you who are regular readers of Horrornews.net, the place to go when you need a quick scratch to ease your itch for all things horror related and more.
Today, it wasn’t a horror movie I took in though. Today I saw Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet” starring none other than Seth “Knocked Up” Rogen as the Hornet & Jay Chou as his trusty sidekick, Kato. I have to admit that since this movie is opening in January (The usual dumping ground for films that studios have no faith in & just want to dump on an unsuspecting public) I wasn’t expecting too much from this flick at all. I was surprised at the positive review my local newspaper gave it though & I thought that there might be something worthwhile waiting for me when I got to the theater.
Well, in a way there was. “The Green Hornet” tells the tale of Britt Reid, a playboy with no responsibilities who basically lives off of his father who is the editor of the biggest newspaper in the city and spends much more time doing that than being with his son. Tom Wilkinson plays his dad & doesn’t seem to age for most of Britt’s life. Britt is living the high life in spite of his father’s emotional neglect or rather to replace what he never received from his dad (his mom died when he was young). He parties everynight, beds various women & drinks copious amounts of liquor until the day his father is discovered dead from a bee sting (he’s allergic). Strangely, this excuse for his death isn’t questioned by anyone despite his father’s prominent battle against the criminal underworld & the list of people who would like to see him dead.
I mean, he wasn’t stung by a swarm of bees. He was stung by one bee. Let me repeat that, he was stung by one frigging bee. Now I’m not too sure about people who are allergic to bee stings & believe me I sympathize with those of you who are but I’m not too sure that one bee sting could kill anyone and if it was possible I would think that if someone who was that susceptible to bee stings would carry around an epi pen or something of that nature to insure that you could do something to prevent death. But no questions are asked & dad is given a really nice funeral with a big ole’ statue and everything on his gravesite.
Britt inherits the newspaper & the position of editor in chief but what the f*ck does he care? All he knows is that his dad is dead & someone forgot how to make his usual cup of morning coffee. The coffee with the leaf design in the foam on the top that Britt loves so much. A few days later, Britt wakes up to a most unsatisfactory cup of joe & promptly begins to bellow for his regular cup. This is when he is reminded that he fired most of the staff the day before including the coffee maker, who goes by the name of Kato. Up until now I was not enjoying myself too much. Rogen not only stars in the film, he wrote it as well with his writing partner Evan Goldberg and it seems like he just gave himself a lot of senseless dialogue to spout while acting like a jerk. This got old really fast for me. I wonder if he familiarized himself at all with The Green Hornet of the 60’s at all before he tackled the script. As a matter of fact, I wonder who was the studio head who thought that he would be a good fit for the part? In the sixties, the role of the hornet was essayed by Van Williams & Williams played the role seriously. There was a grimness to Britt Reid back then. The original series ran around the same time that Adam West’s career making/breaking role of “Batman” was a big hit on the boob tube, but where “Batman” was pure camp “The Green Hornet” was played a lot more seriously. There were no nutty supervillains that the hornet had to do battle with.
Where Batman had The Penguin, Egghead, King Tut and of course The Joker to battle on a bi-weekly(!) basis, The Hornet dealt with the ordinary criminal underworld. Murderers, liquor runners, thieves & the lot. Not as exciting as Batman but far more realistic. He didn’t have a utility belt with every conceivable gadget known to man on it like Batman did. He didn’t have a helicopter, a boat or a cool cave filled with computers to help him fight crime like Bats did. All he had was his trusty gas gun & a gun that could blow the lock off a door. Fuck, he didn’t even have a cool superhero suit. The Hornet wore a long overcoat with a hat & a mask covering his eyes and nothing more. But he did have 2 things that Batman did have, a cool car (The Black Beauty) & a super cool sidekick…Kato. Which brings me back to Rogen & his version of Kato. Where Williams had motherf*cking Bruce (I WILL kick your ass) Lee as Kato, Rogen has an actor by the name of Jay Chou.
I don’t know who Jay Chou is, I’ve never seen him before or heard of him either but one thing I do know…he makes a hell of a cup of coffee. When Britt summons Kato back to work for him expressly to make him coffee, they start to talk about their relationships with Britt’s dad & they realize that neither one of them like him too much. The film sort of warmed up a little bit for me here because the two of them have a pretty good chemistry together even though it seems that they’re making up their lines as they’re going. It gets really chatty here as well but I didn’t mind all too much because I was getting some characterization from the script, if not much action.
Kato is also a very good mechanic & shows Britt the coffee machine he fabricated by hand to make his coffee every day & he shows him how he modified a lot of his dad’s extensive car collection. Kato’s also pretty good with that chop socky stuff as well & after an evening of drinking they decide to go to the cemetery where dad’s six feet under & remove the head off of his dad’s statue, which they do with a blowtorch. As they’re going back to the car with the Bronze head they see a mugging taking place & they decide to intervene. And they manage to beat back the assailants, well at least Kato does. Britt sort of punches out one of the guys but in actuality he’s no fighter & he gets caught on camera running away from the scene of the crime although his face is obscured some. The next day he sees the footage on TV & decides that both he & Kato can actually fight crime together. Why he just up & decides this was unsure to me.
There is some banter between the two about the elder Reid’s legacy but they were slagging him 10 minutes earlier in the script so I didn’t buy that reasoning. Britt shows up at the newspaper the next morning exclaiming that the mystery man on the tape is to be on the front page & that this story is taking precedence over all others. They have to give the man a name though. Britt suggests “The Green Bee”, which is promptly shot down. Kato (who is introduced to the newspapers staff as Britt’s “Executive Assistant”) suggests “The Green Hornet” & there you go, a villain is born. You see, Britt’s plan is to have the hornet portrayed as a villain to get closer to the big honcho who’s running crime in the city.
His name is Chudnofsky and he’s played by Oscar winner Christof Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) in the best performance in the movie. He actually opens the film in a most entertaining fashion interrogating a club owner who’s selling Crystal meth out of his club & not cutting Chudnofsky in for a slice of the pie. He’s told that he’s too old looking & wears clothing far too ugly to be a crime czar. That doesn’t go too well for the club owner but it’s a really good scene & it shows how well Waltz can play a truly villainous part without all of the histrionics that lesser actors might bring to the role. I hope he isn’t pigeonholed into roles of this type but f*ck, he does bad really good!
The film really begins to meander in the middle section where our erstwhile duo start breaking up smaller crime circles asking who the big boss is & actually leaving a business card with an e-mail address (!) on it so that they can be contacted. Really? A f*cking e-mail address? Is this the best Rogen & company can come up with? It’s supposed to be funny I guess but it’s just really f*cking stupid. Meanwhile Chudnofsky is getting angry over the fact that the hornet is beginning to muscle in on his business. This is shown in a montage of explosions, beat downs & gunplay that is really kind of jarring & a bit on the violent side. Don’t get it twisted here people..The Saint loves him some violence but it seems strangely out of place here and when it comes it comes pretty fast & hard. There were more than a few children in the audience (I had one with me, my little Saint who’s 9 years old). It didn’t get to him cuz he’s my kid & he’s used to it but parents of young children might want to think about it before they bring their kids to this one.
Cameron Diaz is introduced halfway through the movie as Britt’s secretary but in effect she’s there only to look good in a tight skirt. She has very little to do in the movie & quite frankly, she ain’t looking too hot in it either. maybe she’s just getting old but she doesn’t seem as hot as they think she is. Doesn’t she get something like $10 million a pic nowadays? If she does then she made out like a bandit here for sure. Director Michel Gondry is in my mind an over rated director & although visually he can frame a pretty shot here and there, his films have bored me over the years. I’m one of the few that didn’t trip over himself praising “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”. Good performances…bad movie. But I can’t even say that for this picture. As I said earlier, Waltz is the only reason to see this film at all & he’s not playing the title character. Rogen just seems to fall back on his usual talky stoner bit & Chou’s accent is a bit impenetrable at times although there is a genuine chemistry between the two. Edward James Olmos is also featured in the film in a throwaway part as an assistant editor at the newspaper. I wonder how much he got to be in it….?
The film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Is it an action movie? A buddy comedy? A superhero film? A violent crime thriller? At times it’s all of these things at the same time and it fails miserably during these times. The film does get better when it’s just Rogen & Chou riffing off of each other in quick bursts but even those get tiresome after a bit. The film livens up only when Waltz is on the screen (his idea to transform into a crime czar that’s scary towards the end of the film is priceless) but there isn’t enough of him to make the film more palatable. The 3D is surprisingly effective in the movie though even though it was converted to 3D after filming. There are some pretty cool action scenes that take advantage of the conversion in a big way & the beginning & end credits are really special to look at. Gondry has style & the film looks great but he’s a slave to the script & the script sucks quite frankly. Rogen wasn’t the best choice for the part & I believe the grosses will prove this to be true on Monday when they come in for the weekend. I saw it on Saturday at a mid afternoon show & the theater wasn’t even 1/3 full, that doesn’t bode well for the future of this turkey. We don’t even get the f*cking super cool theme song until the end credits. They got the look right, the Black Beauty is just that…beautiful & the weaponry she carries is overdone but still cool to see in action. The fight scenes are ok as well, there are some focus pull shots that really take advantage of the 3D & actually made me a little dizzy but in a good way. But it just doesn’t gel in the end, a sorry failure.
I laughed a couple of times during “The Green Hornet” & I thought some of the action scenes were well choreographed but in the end I can only give it 1 1/2 shrouds. Too much of Rogen doing his usual act, only with a mask & overcoat on, too many things going on at the same time during some of the action scenes but not enough Waltz & a sadly underused Diaz & Olmos (why hire them if you’re not going to do anything of any substance with them)?
That’s all for “The Green Hornet”. I didn’t like getting stung by it ($28 dollars to see it in 3D), you might enjoy it more in 2D with low expectations but all in all The Black Saint didn’t have a good time at the movies although The getting darker every day saint thought it was a stone cold blast! Kids…whaddaya gonna do with them?
So say your prayers tonight folks. I am always listening. I really am. So be sure you know who to direct your prayers to, I’m not in a good mood right now & that can’t be good for those of you who aren’t already acolytes of mine…The Black Saint has now left the building.