The Green Hornet - Blu-ray Review

'On the one hand, Reid is slick, funny and charming, on the other, he's a schlubby, sexist, awkward, nobody. The two, very obviously, don't work together'

The Green Hornet, a comedy with superhero trappings, definitely benefits from the fact that it doesn't have much going for it. The law of expectations says that the lower the promise of a film, the easier it is for it to deliver. Notch expectations for this at the lowest possible rung and you're somewhere approaching where they should be. Circling since sometime in the mid-nineties, the project, based originally on a radio and TV series, has little recognisable history, iconography or, arguably, fan base. Somehow it ended up in the hands of Seth Rogan and writing partner Evan Goldberg, who combined with director Michel Gondry - an off-the-wall choice if ever there was one - to bring the character to the screen for the first time since the 1960s.

Rogan brings an obvious level of laddish, knockabout, laughs to the character which proves both the film's major strength and weakness. As usual, his writing and performance is comprised of a series of sharp hits which feel well developed and scripted and a series of less well developed sections which feel improvised, awkward and not particularly hilarious. With playboy Britt Reid (aka The Green Hornet) the sense of disconnect between the two is heightened. On the one hand, Reid is slick, funny and charming, controlling a room or a party with sharp one-liners and extrovert actions. On the other, he's a schlubby, sexist, awkward, nobody; bumbling through meetings and one-to-ones, unsure of himself and stilted in public spaces. The two, very obviously, don't work together and Rogan needs to learn when he can include the latter kind of comedy in his writing and his characterisation and when he can't.

There's no particular 'Gondry-style' evident here but there are some smarts from the director that show exactly what he brings to this sort of project. An early cameo is a guaranteed laugh and the French director's decision to give it both pride of place and a decent amount of time to develop are solid ways at ensuring sceptical audience members are sold on the rest of the film. The marginalisation of Lenore (Cameron Diaz) seems a misjudgement at first but when you consider that she's already a horribly written character (she's a secretary, is constantly talked down to and has very, very little to do), giving her a Reid-led love story (inevitably the direction it would have gone in) wouldn't have made things any better.

Ultimately, the laughs, the solid conclusion and Christopher Waltz' unpronounceable villain Chudnofsky are enough to recommend it as long as you go in with tapered expectations. This is purely a Rogan comedy, dressed up as a superhero film, with the latter only getting lip service on occasion. With that comes the awful jokes and sub-standard storytelling but see past those and you'll get something which at least attempts one or two new directions within an increasingly tired-looking genre.

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'hugely entertaining, genuinely funny and surprisingly inventive' - Hope Lies


  1. Apart from Jay Chou’s great acting, this movie was a total disaster. Poor acting, poor storyline and a poor re-imagining of the Green Hornet whose character has worsen from suave to ridiculous.

  2. I was not impressed with this at all. After this I will be avoiding Seth Rogen at ALL costs. The thing is I really wanted to like this but Rogen stuffed it up by playing the complete dickhead.
    One of the years poorest movies for me.

  3. Don't have much to add, I enjoyed The Green Hornet but at the same time its a slave to convention and could have done with a larger injection of Gondry's style (his appointment baffles me, why have him if you're not going to use him to his strengths?)

    If I compare it to a superhero film, i think it takes a few more risks than usual (unlikable protagonist, heroes in it for selfish gain) but doesn't follow through on its promise

  4. DTG - I'm not sure I'd describe Chou's acting as 'great' but he was entertaining. I didn't mind it half as much as you seem to have.

    BRENT - Rogen is an acquired taste. I have not acquired him yet. But I could still find a little bit of love for this.

    desertofreel - Completely agree on the Gondry point; it was very obviously 'directed' by Rogen, why you need Gondry when that was the case is beyond me. More than completely agree on your final point; it has promise as something more and it settles for ordinary.

  5. If it wasn’t structured so poorly it could have been a total blast, but as enjoyable as it is in some aspects, it’s hard to focus on the good stuff when you could really care less about the story it’s trying to tell. Nice review!

  6. I didn't have a huge problem with the structure but yes, Reed is not a likeable character in a lot of ways and having Rogen play him is going to alienate a number of people from the get go.