So, tonight the wife and I trundled off to see The Green Hornet, which admittedly I didn’t have a lot of hope for (based on the reviews) but which my wife wanted to see because his sidekick Kato was played by Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou. (My wife, for those who may not know, is Taiwanese.) She’s actually not a huge fan of Jay Chou himself, but he’s a hometown boy making it big in Hollywood, so she wanted to support him. I could respect that, so off we went, despite my worries that I was walking into a train wreck in glorious 3D. (3D being something that stopped impressing me when I watched Gorilla at Large on WUAB Cleveland when I was 12.)
Well, I wasn’t wrong, The Green Hornet IS a train wreck in terms of plot, casting and on many other levels. It never quite flows together as a story, takes weird turns of logic, Cameron Diaz is a total waste in the film (it’s like she has a “why am I here?” sign hanging over her whenever she’s briefly on the screen), and the guy who cast Seth Rogan in this film should be run out of Hollywood and told never to come back. (On penalty of death!)
But, the truly weird thing is that despite all of that I actually enjoyed myself. The guy who barely speaks English (Jay Chou) runs acting and charisma rings around everyone else in the film, and totally steals it. If it wasn’t for him, this film would have been a forgotten flop (just like the original Green Hornet TV series would have been footnote without Bruce Lee doing the same thing!) and thanks to his presence holding the film together and some nifty action sequences it actually manages to be 2 hours of entertainment. Not good entertainment, but a film that kept me from being bored (which isn’t easy these days), had a good laugh every couple minutes, and was generally fun to watch. Actually, I should correct myself. The film had two real stars, Jay Chou, and the car. Both of which managed to out-act Rogan and Diaz.
I think if they’d replaced Rogan with any number of leading men who have actual charisma, and given Diaz’s tiny part to some other actress who needed it, this film would have been a lot better. It reminded me of Iron Man 2 a lot, actually. A glorious mess of a story that was held together by the charisma of Robert Downey Junior, but in this case it was the “sidekick” whose charisma made the movie work, so the whole thing is off-balance and off-kilter and never quite manages to get itself on track.
Oh, and the 3D is totally wasted. You can tell they added the 3D in post production (not filmed it in 3D) and you both forget it’s there and wish it wasn’t. For example, there’s a lot of scenes where you’re supposed to read text on notes on the screen, but thanks to the 3D glasses being dark they’re actually hard to read. I commented to my wife that everything Jay Chou’s character built was labeled in Chinese, and she didn’t even notice because she couldn’t read it clearly enough to tell!
I expect this film will do reasonably well here (off-season, good opening weekend) and will probably do Gangbusters in Asia, both because of the Asian connection, and because the style of humor is more Asian than Western. It reminded me a lot of the humor you tend to find in Hong Kong films. This will result in a sequel, god help us all. But who knows, if they actually have a writer, it might just work.
In the end, I suggest it as a rental, not a theatre movie unless you’re really curious.
One other note, I think they showed a series of trailers before the movie.
I say “I think” because apparently while I stopped watching films for a while (my last one was during the summer, I think…) somebody changed what constitutes a trailer on me. Last time I checked, a trailer was a 2-3 minute mini version of the film that usually even gives away the ending if you’re paying attention. I hate that about trailers, and find that really annoying.
However, now they’ve actually managed to come up with something even more annoying! A new trailer consists of music and a series of super-fast clips, that are so short they almost constitute stills, being flashed at you for 30 seconds and then it’s over. WTF is that? Did someone decide that blipverts were a good idea while I wasn’t looking? And the worst part is that I can’t really tell you what trailers I saw, because they were all exactly the same! There was a guy from hell, and explosions. A guy fighting vampires, and explosions. Aliens invading and explosions. And something else, and explosions.
It’s like they now have a computer program that you feed a film into and it makes these things, but nobody realized they were all using the same program and so all the trailers look exactly the same!
Or maybe it’s that all those movies are exactly the same. Either-or.
Now I remember why I don’t go see movies much anymore.