.

The Green Hornet

Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Jay Chou

Directed by Michel Gondry
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 2.5
Community: star rating
5 2.5 0
10
January 13, 2011

Seth Rogen gets pounded hard on the Web for daring to take on the role of the Green Hornet. "Explain to me why a chubby putz is playing a superhero?" typed one Internet buzz-killer. Well, the chubby putz gets the last laugh. For starters, Rogen is no longer flabby — a trainer took care of that. And the big-screen Green Hornet, while hardly classic comic-book filmmaking, ain't half bad. There's talent and ambition in this $100 million-plus epic thanks to Rogen and the visual wizardry (in 3D and 2D) of director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), even when the action gets frenetic and the twisty plot goes off the rails.

Peter Travers reviews The Green Hornet in his weekly video series, "At the Movies With Peter Travers."

Rogen, 28, and his Superbad writing partner, Evan Goldberg, have been comics-obsessed since the Hornet seduced their horny teen hearts. Why not? The hero's alter ego, Britt Reid, is a party animal and heir to the newspaper fortune of his father (Tom Wilkinson). When Daddy gets murdered, Britt hires a secretary, Lenore Case (a superfluous Cameron Diaz), who is older and smarter than he is. He teams up with Kato (Taiwanese singer Jay Chou), the family chauffeur, a gadget-maker and martial artist, to exact revenge. They'll fight crime by pretending to be criminals themselves. And they wear masks, just like the Lone Ranger and Tonto. No accident, since George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, who developed The Green Hornet as a 1930s radio serial, had done the same for The Lone Ranger.

The 10 Best Movies of 2010

The Green Hornet, which predated Batman, has a historic legacy in radio, comics, movies and a cult 1966 TV series that starred Van Williams as Reid and the immortal Bruce Lee as Kato. Rogen didn't want to stink up the franchise by dragging it into dumb farce. But he wanted laughs and an action-buddy vibe in an L.A. underworld. The film lost other directors along the way, including Kevin Smith and, later, Hong Kong master Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle). When Nicolas Cage retreated as Russian villain Benjamin Chudnofsky (he reportedly wanted to use a Jamaican accent, mon), in went Christoph Waltz, fresh from his Oscar for Inglourious Basterds. Good move. Waltz has an early run-in with a newbie thug (a juicy cameo from James Franco), who insults him as a drooling dinosaur. Waltz's deadpan reaction, before the inevitable brutal explosion, is priceless.

The 10 Greatest Film and TV Superheroes

Despite the rumors and the graveyard January opening, The Green Hornet doesn't suck. But don't expect it to hang together either, what with the clashing tones and melting logic. Rogen doesn't make much of an action hero, but he plays his lack of superpowers for maximum fun. Chou's physical grace more than compensates. It helps that Gondry can stage a dazzling set piece without editing it into incomprehension (yes, I mean you, Michael Bay). The fight between Britt and Kato is a 3D whiz-bang, with objects flying everywhere. And the Black Beauty, a tricked-out Chrysler Imperial fully loaded with weaponry, could make the Dark Knight green with envy. Gondry developed a visual style called Kato-Vision that lets us see things through Kato's ever-vigilant eyes. The knockout scene shows Kato in superspeed battling villains moving in slow motion. Cool stuff, even as we keep on wishing that the Hornet had more sting in his tail.

The 10 Worst Movies of 2010

10
prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com