Friday, 27 May 2011


Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a young playboy who exasperates his father, James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), publisher of the L.A. newspaper The Daily Sentinel. When James dies, Britt meets Kato (Jay Chou) - a genius mechanic with martial art skills who worked for his father.

As paranoid mobster
Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is taking over the town, Britt Reid and Kato become masked crimefighters posing as criminals in their rolling arsenal: The Black Beauty.

The Green Hornet was created in 1936 by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for a radio series. In the 1940s the character was adapted for comic books and into two movie serials. A 1966-1967 television series starred Van Williams as Britt Reid/The Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato. Thanks to Lee's later stardom their incarnations returned in two compilation movies, The Green Hornet (1974) and Fury of the Dragon (1976).

« Hand over the sushi.
- Yeah, hand it over. »


Now actor/producer Seth Rogen stars as Reid in this $120 million movie written by him with Evan Goldberg, and directed by someone you would not expect on such a project: French director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). You'd not expect Rogen as a masked crusader either but he lost weight and got more athletic for the character. After all, why couldn't he expand the scope of his roles beyond comedy? Jim Carrey did it and Seth Rogen would be talented enough to do it too. Except he doesn't even try to put a toe beyond his comfort zone.

« Kato, I want you to take my hand and want you to come with me on this adventure.
- I'll go with you but I don't wanna touch you. »

His Britt Reid is a "rich cretin" and a bumbling accidental superhero outsmarted by Kato, the martial artist and master inventor played by Taiwanese music superstar and actor Jay Chou. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are obviously more interested by the bromance (« Girls are such a drag, Kato. Thank God we have each other. ») than by the source material, past Kato and the customized retro car "loaded up the ass with cool shit": The Black Beauty. They even sacrifice a major character of the original Green Hornet the way Jim Phelps was mistreated in the first Mission: Impossible movie (1996).

« I should kill Kim myself, he's a friend. »

Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz is constantly fine-tuning his performance as Chudnofsky between the nazi of Inglorious Basterds (« Decapited statues. I decapitated real people. ») and the generic blockbuster villain. He delivers one of the movie's best scenes, facing James Franco in his usual stuff, before looking hardly concerned and losing it around the end in red leather and gas mask! At this pace Waltz will be the next Victor Newman in Y&R but thank God Nicolas Cage left the movie, imagine him with that line: « I'm Bloodnofsky. I killed a thousand before and I'll kill a thousand more. » The legendary Edward James Olmos is miscast as the Sentinel Managing Editor Mike Axford and Cameron Diaz (Lenore Case) is virtually nonexistent as "one of the boys".

« Well, it’s not really my movie. » (Michel Gondry)

When not pushing the limits of disbelief to the heights of ridicule, thanks to state of the art digital sfx and 3D conversion, the action sequences borrow rather happily to the 007 and Superman franchises. You'll find not even a single trace of Michel Gondry's creativity in The Green Hornet, as the movie is an extra large pop corn flick in total WTF mode (the Hornet and Kato sing Gangsta's Paradise on their trying ride of The Black Beauty). Somewhere in the middle of Iron Man and Get Smart with Steve Carell, no one involved seems to take it seriously anyway.

Region 1 DVD contains the excellent French-speaking dubbing with the talented Tristan Harvey for Britt Reid/The Green Hornet. Harvey is also the voice of Kevin James or Ricky Gervais in Quebec and belongs to the very select club of those dubbing artists who can really bring an added value to the movies they work on. The DVD special features include an interview with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg about writing The Green Hornet, and The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool, a feature about the true star of the film.

« I call it The Black Beauty.
- Kato! It's beautiful! And it's black. »

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