Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content, 105 minutes
"Green Hornet" is hit-or-miss superhero fun
I will say right off the bat, for those interested, and I'm sure there are many, that the new superhero film "The Green Hornet" is not awful. As a matter of fact, the entertaining film is energetic, well-cast (with one major exception, more than that later), and filled with the coolest car this side of the General Lee. But a bunch of nifty gadgets and a hot car don't necessarily make for a great film, and this modern take on "The Green Hornet" is re-envisioned as a buddy-buddy comedy, a genre that is largely (like this film) very hit-or-miss.
Playboy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) becomes the new publisher of Los Angeles' "The Daily Sentinel" after the sudden death of his father. Britt's party life is about to change when he and his driver and kung fu expert, Kato (Taiwanese actor and singer Jay Chou), stop a robbery. With the help of Kato, Britt starts a new career of fighting crime as the masked superhero "The Green Hornet."
The entertaining but forgettable "The Green Hornet" is the latest superhero film to emerge, and with mixed results. What works: Kato, a smokin' hot car, the gadgets and a delicious villain in last year's Best Supporting Actor, Christoph Waltz. What doesn't: Rogen and an uneven, all-too-familiar superhero storyline (penned by Rogen and his frequent collaborator, Evan Goldberg). An inspired director like Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") fortunately keeps it from being a total mess, which it could've easily been given the star and the script.
"Green Hornet's" script meanders way too much, doesn't give enough background and relies too heavily on the charm of the now slim and trim Rogen, a likable comedic actor, but as a superhero, a mixed bag. On one hand, he provides the film with a little levity and spunk, which isn't necessarily bad, but it also reveals Rogen's annoying penchant for talking too much and stating the obvious (and obvious that he co-wrote the script, giving himself the best lines), something that works well in buddy comedies but grows tiresom here.
Taiwanese actor Chou is the real find here at Kato, utterly charming with minimal dialogue and the one who really makes The Green Hornet who he is, the creator of all the cool gadgets and one smokin' hot car, a mid-1960's Chrysler Imperial. He, along with a wonderfully funny villain in Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") nearly steal the show (especially in a terrific opening sequence with Waltz) and probably would've had it not been for gadget-filled car. Wonderful character actor Tom Wilkinson is seen in a tiny role while Cameron Diaz is wasted in a one-note secretary role; note to Diaz: you're not Lois Lane or Pepper Potts.
"The Green Hornet" stumbles badly in the final stretch toward an ill-conceived climax and it certainly leaves it open for more of these, but if there are some improvements should be made. Keep Rogen the actor, fire Rogen the writer, and give Kato his own movie. Don't get me wrong, you'll be enertained by "The Green Hornet," but it's nowhere in the league of "Spider Man" or "Iron Man." Do stay over until the end for some colorful end credits, which work well in 3D.