Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Green Hornet (2011) – Review

The Green Hornet is an entertaining buddy action comedy that takes full advantage of its cast, script and subject matter. Michel Gondry (known for his unique style) directs maybe his most straight-forward film to date, however his style is not completely gone as he does place his camera interestingly creating some nice shot composition (not always common for big action or comedy movies). However, this feels much more like a film by writing team Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg than it does a Michel Gondry film. That is not a bad thing, as it is very funny and the dialog and overall silliness of the situations and characters allow to film to stand out and in many ways stand above most other recent buddy action comedies. However, liking this film is probably contingent (to some degree) on liking their other two produced screenplays: Superbad and Pineapple Express, as the comedy in this film is in much the same vein as those films. The relationship between Britt Reid (The Green Hornet) and Kato – their dialog, interactions, friendship and so on – is the best part and generates most of the entertainment in the film. Sure there are good action set pieces, funny scenes with the villain and other characters, but Reid and Kato’s relationship develops in such a manner that the audience enjoys watching (and to some extend being a part of it), thus caring about the characters and outcome – making the film successful overall. The villain Chudnofsky also brings humor to the film with the continuous joke that he is not very menacing or cool. It is fairly refreshing and works quite well (I thought, at least). The issue with the film though is that outside the relationship of Reid and Kato and the exploits of Chudnofsky there is not much else there. All the other characters fill specific story roles, but do not feel real or even necessary. Plus, the major factors in Reid wanting to be The Green Hornet stems from both a need to help people and his relationship with his father, neither is given enough emotional weight to make Reid’s actions feel real or have the audience care (however, I think while important and ultimately what stops this from being a better film, this is not as important by a long shot to the relationship between Reid and Kato, which the film does very well). Despite some narrative flaws in building full characters, The Green Hornet is a blast, filled with fun action and lots of laughs.

Technical and acting achievements: Michel Gondry tackles his most ambitious film here, having not really shot big action set pieces before and not to mention that this seems out of his comfort zone. The result does not really resemble a typical Gondry film, but his aesthetics and keen sense of composition still creep their way in; they are just not blatant (like his other films). James Newton Howard provides a good score for the film that while not overly memorable fits the visuals and tone well. Cinematographer John Schwartzman’s work also fits the tone of the film well – letting the actors play out their comedic roles while also presenting the action in an exciting manner. A lot of credit also goes to editor Michael Tronick who did great work on the film. Owen Paterson’s production design grounds the film in the real world, but also includes grand sets (like the newspaper building) and cool ‘home bases’ for the characters (I like Chudnofsky’s construction trailer office, for example). Tom Wilkinson, David Harbour, Edward James Olmos and especially Edward Furlong (who is hilarious in his small role) provide good supporting work. Cameron Diaz is really given little to do in the film and it is hard to believe that they cast her or anyone as famous as her for the part, and thus ends up merely being just a pretty face, and she has some funny moments too. James Franco has a fantastic cameo in the film. His scene with Christoph Waltz is maybe the best in the film (it is awesome). Waltz is wonderful as a crime lord with seemingly low self-esteem. He pretty much steals every scene he is in (but what else did you expect). Leads Rogen and Jay Chou make a great team and their performances are very funny and charismatic, carrying the film.

The Green Hornet is very funny, has good action and will entertain. 7/10

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