'The Green Hornet 3D' (dir: Michel Gondry, 2011), Cert: 12A
Master of the bizarre Michel Gondry has returned to the director’s chair for his latest Hollywood picture ‘The Green Hornet’ which is based on a set of radio and television programmes dating back from the 60s. Coming off the back of the poor ‘Be Kind Rewind’ in 2008, Gondry needs to up his game if he wants to continue making American features, so he’s made a smart move with his latest; it’s written, executively produced by and stars Seth Rogen so there should be no shortage of belly laughs, plus the marvellous Christoph Waltz stars as the dreaded villain which can only bring more to this picture right?
After the death of his father, Britt Reid (Rogen) inherits his globally-read newspaper firm, The Daily Sentinel. Used to a life of partying and general laziness, the sudden change in his daily routine becomes quite a shock. However, Britt’s life is about to change even more dramatically when he discovers Kato (Jay Chou); a driver to his father and a highly skilled martial arts performer. Britt is so impressed by him and how much he is capable of that the pair decides to become crime-fighting partners, which sees the birth of “The Green Hornet”. All isn’t settled in Los Angeles though as criminal mastermind and ruler of the underworld Chudnofsky (Waltz) is determined to stop Britt and Kato at whatever cost.
I find Gondry a rather infuriating filmmaker in all honesty; he can be so creative and loving with his methods of cinematic madness, and then he can be so bland and vacant when he’s passed a large budget. He is a French arthouse director; a man who can provide a compelling narrative tale through little more than symbolic imagery, he doesn’t need a budget of $90 million because he doesn’t know how to use it. ‘The Green Hornet’ is a parade of mindless pyrotechnics and pointless gizmos that lose any charm after twenty minutes.
The main problems with the movie unfortunately lie with Rogen however. I am a huge fan of his work and I find him a real pleasure to watch but he spends most of this film shouting and gasping at Kato which becomes excessively irritating, plus it leaves him little time to make jokes so every line that’s supposed to be funny feels rushed and irrelevant. The film also plays up to the most obvious and annoying stereotypes; Kato must be a kung-fu expert because he is of Chinese origin, Chudnofsky must be a psychopathic criminal because he is European, the list is endless. To add insult to injury, even the 3D is a joke, it’s not used to its advantage at one point throughout when there was plenty of opportunity for it too. I took my glasses off for the bulk of the film as it was mainly close-ups of characters faces which were clearly filmed in 2D.
The lack of gags and over-indulgence of special effects steadily progresses throughout the feature making it’s already over-long running time of 119 minutes feel like a real stretch. It does have some little redeeming features, but they are so few and far between they become unapparent in the long run. Easily the best thing about the film is the opening 10 minutes that sports a great cameo from James Franco; his paragraph of dialogue is the funniest part of the script.
The rest of the cast can’t seem to live up to their roles expectation; Rogen isn’t lovable or hilarious like usual, instead he’s irritating enough to set your teeth on edge. Chou is incredible hard to understand throughout the movie and does little apart from kick people and use some strange inner-sensor to detect weapons before they’ve even been exposed; I sure this was supposed to be funny but I did not experience that emotion. Waltz should have known better, he is a superb actor with a real knack for timing and delivery, but his villain here wasn’t a patch on the incredible Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’ in 2009. The film also sports a minor and rather insignificant performance from Cameron Diaz who turns up as Britt’s secretary and eye candy.
Surprisingly, considering how damning this review was, I’d still rather watch this again over ‘Be Kind Rewind’ which was a painful experience, but there are miles better pictures out at the moment, so I would avoid this one. It may be laced be funky gadgets and effects that make James Bond look primitive, but under all that lies an empty and dull movie with very little to offer its audience.
It’ll turn you green with anger. Boring, over-long and dry as a bone.
By Chris Haydon