The Green Hornet is as good as any Green Hornet movie could probably be, which is to say he’s not a very interesting superhero. He owns a newspaper and his sidekick is a martial artist? That leaves a lot more room for Seth Rogen to play than maybe a character with more definition, but the superhero blockbuster as an art film doesn’t really work.
It’s actually when Britt Reid (Rogen) become The Green Hornet that the movie falls apart. Before that, the story of an antisocial rich kid has an edgy attitude, even if it only manifests in a PG-13 drunken party. Finding out his dad (Tom Wilkinson) died on the news in his limo is effectively dramatic. Christoph Waltz looks great as Chudnofsky with a goatee, a Caesar cut and a double barreled gun.
Reid becomes a total dufus, doing happy dances to celebrate victories. He never shuts up during an action scene and often just states what’s happening to him. Reid’s interview with Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) is just weird, perhaps an uncomfortable bit of failed improv, and he’s always babbling at her. The Spy Kids were more mature.
I get the attempt to deconstruct the hero/sidekick relationship but it’s really forced. Reid would be insecure that Kato (Jay Chou) is such a badass, but he’s just whiny about it. Kato’s issues with being a servant as his cover are better played but still come out of nowhere. Reid’s analysis of superhero movies is pure Rogen. He’s wrong about all movie heroes being good guys though. Spider-Man and Batman always have trouble with PR.
By the time Kato and Reid are reall fighting, it becomes cartoon slapstick with bouncy sound effects. The gas gun bit is funny, but then Reid is still going totally gaga over Lenore like she’s the only one who can save his newspaper. This is a secretary with little journalism experience. There is plenty of people way more qualified for the job, and I bet some of them are also hot too.
The action is pretty awesome. If they’d have just done a straight generic plot with these action scenes they would have had a solid movie. Kato-vision basically alters perspective, time and physics at the same time. The climax in The Daily Sentinel is thrilling. Then there’s more silly comedy epilogue.
The 3-D looks fine. There are some good shots of the Reid mansion and roses coming into focus, plus more abstract Michel Gondry shots towards the end. There’s also a lot of blurry background from the post conversion process. Anything CGI, like flying bottle caps or missiles, can come out of the screen pretty easily.
Ultimately The Green Hornet is as troubled as its many delays would indicate. You know, superhero comedy is tricky. They can’t all be Blankman.