Tonight the wife and I went to see a sneak peek viewing of the new Green Hornet film. The whole affair was free, which was pretty much the main selling point considering I was not overly impressed by the trailers or the fact that Seth Rogen was the star. Don't get me wrong, I want the chubby, bearded, bespectacled guy to have the lead parts just as much as every other Kevin Smith lookalike. I have enjoyed a few of Rogen's films, even if he is the same character in every single one. Sometimes it works.
Other times it is a terrible gamble made by executives to try to bring a younger crowd in to see a movie based off of a television show made in the late 60's (which was based off of a radio serial from the mid 30's). Basically, they wanted to bring in the expendable income, not the pensioners fixed payment. I get it, I understand. You want your film to make a profit. However, at least TRY to make it somewhat like the original series beyond the character names and sweet 007 style ride. But this seemed as if the writers (one of whom was Rogen) had never seen an episode of the television show. Michel Gondry has done some exceptional work, most notably in my opinion being the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, but this will not go down as one of his finer works. Actually, considering how bland, generic and frighteningly similar so many of these hero films are despite varied casts and crews, there must be a checklist or executive out there that all of these films are measured by or against. Homework assignment right there.
As to the above the board actors...sigh. Seth Rogen was himself (the only time I have not seen him playing himself was in the epic and under-rated film Fanboys), Cameron Diaz could have been almost cut out of the movie entirely and the script could have remain untouched which is always a sign of doom. And the bad guy, Bloodnofsky, was a cartoon character complete with outdated suits, red leather coat, double barreled handgun and late in the film instituted catch phrase. Of the three unremarkable actors/characters, the bad guy makes me weep the most as Chris Waltz is an incredible talent and can do amazing things with a role given a chance, but he can only work with what he is given. Of course, it could have been worse. I had heard rumor that Nick Cage was originally the main villain, but he was removed and the scenes re-shot because he refused to deliver the lines without a Jamaican accent. His reasoning? Cuz I am friggin Nick Cage.
There were a few highlights. James Franco as the random thug made an example of early on was an unexpected gem. Jay Chou gave us not only pretty kick ass fight sequences, but a surprisingly subtle and nuanced performance as the right hand man, Kato. Obviously, the car was cool but even that joy was taken down a notch by making it have a plethera of pointless accessories as well as crime fighting gear. Yes refrigerated seat compartment with three glasses of perfectly prepared ice for a scotch on the rocks I am looking at you.
The closer the movie got to its end the more disappointing it became. The heroes killed without showing remorse or thinking twice. They didn't just leave one corpse, they had a good half a dozen. Some of them killed in a pretty gruesome manner. This made the hornet sting knockout gas gun completely pointless beyond having it as a setup for a weak joke that has been in every trailer (the terrifying thing was the audience still cackled like caffeinated baboons when it happened in the film). The first time Rogen uses the gas gun on a bad guy he puts the thugs eye out. Why? Because the thugs name was Popeye. Get it? Neither did I since I never heard the thugs name mentioned, I just caught it in the credits and looked it up.
Additionally, there seemed to be a lot of unnecessary cussing. Now, don't look at me like that. I am a fan of Kevin Smith films, I have no problem with salty language when it feels right for the movie. This felt like they thought the only way they could get a laugh out of a joke was if they had Rogen tack '$h1t' in randomly during his dialogue.
The largest kick in the teeth, near the end their car became magical. I am not lying. Okay, there weren't sparkles and fairy wings, but it did steal a trick from the Love Bug and have the front end drive around thru an office building after the elevator cut the car in half. Re-read that last sentence. Yeah, it made about that much sense while watching it as well.
Oh, and having this film in 3D was completely pointless. Please, please, let this fad die quickly as I am tired of seeing it used for no other reason than to give a bullet point to the press kit and an extra two bucks to the ticket price.
The salt in the wound was the fact I never heard the television shows theme song (which I love) referenced within the film score a single note until the credits rolled. Gangsters Paradise, sure, yeah. You've got to show the ride is hot. Theme songs are for wimps.
Overall I give the new Green Hornet film two out of five Cine-philes (officially licensed graphic coming soon). Wait to watch this one until you can get a free rental from Redbox.