I’ve been going back and forth today with a Little Bleeder who has seen the all-but-finished cut of Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet. The usual provisos apply, most significant being that there’s still some time to make little nips and tweaks before the film is officially released in January. Also: note that our spy saw the film in 2D.
Here are some of the highlights of what the spy had to tell us. I think you’ll agree that they were rather won over… but how so?
Be warned: some small spoilers follow.
I’ve never seen or read The Green Hornet in any medium, so I went into this pretty much blind other than what I’d seen of the trailer and knew about its development. The impression I had of it was that it’s something of an homage to 1960s and 1970s superhero films & tv shows; the camp costumes, retro car and lack of shitty CGI.
Most of the action sequences were old-school fight scenes; there’s an interesting gimmick whereby Kato goes into an adrenalised mode and can seemingly slow down time. When doing this, there’s a nod to Grand Theft Auto where he targets individuals and their weapons before taking them all out one by one.
Black Beauty is a star in her own right – from the “fixing it up” montage to the way it’s instrumental in the climax (despite having been shorn in half) and intentionally or not, to me it really recalled the Batmobile from the 1960s tv show. I don’t care what anyone says about that programme, the batmobile was, and is, fucking cool.
On Christoph Waltz
I think a lot of people will claim he was miscast but his brand of quizzical evil works perfectly for Chudnofsky/Bloodnofsky. Yes, he’s basically camping up Hans Landa but the man has presence like nobody working in cinema today and as a result can get away with some borderline ropey “baddie” dialogue – simply because casual malevolence just seeps from his pores.
On Jay Chou
Absolutely brilliant. Great comic timing, looks cool as fuck and absolutely owns the fight scenes. Never heard of him before this, and although it’s something of a Jackie Chan turn it really works. Can see him ending up as something of a self-parody though, constantly being typecast in Rush Hour type hollywood dreck.
On Seth Rogen
I’ve heard of a lot of criticism that he’s “playing Seth Rogen” . Now, I understand why people say this but really, he’s not. The thing about Seth Rogen is he’s likable and in this movie – he is and he isn’t. He plays Reid as a deluded asshole with a huge sense of entitlement, but an over riding urge to somehow do good. So you find yourself rooting for him even though you think he’s a bit of a dick who needs taking down a peg or two.
That Gondry managed to get a superhero movie out via Sony wherein the hero doesn’t “get the girl” was a breath of fresh air too. All that Reid and Kato’s feelings for Cameron Diaz’s character end up leading to is a hilarious, briliantly-choreographed fight scene which employs, among other things, a full suit of armour, a plasma TV and a rockband drumkit.
On Cameron Diaz
What, exactly, is the point of Cameron Diaz? Sure, she’s never been hired for her acting skills. Her purpose ends up being to remind Reid of what his father and The Daily Sentinel originally stood for. The dialogue about how hot she is hangs in the air like a racist comment – everyone thinking, “Er… Really??” – Badly miscast IMO.
The Best Bits:
A brilliant James Franco cameo in the opening scene – dude can’t hold a film* but he does “comedic loser” brilliantly.
Some excellent montages. Yeah, they’re cheesy but like I said, it seems to be an homage/pastiche and you can’t have a superhero film without a “fixin’ stuff up” montage and a “reflecting on what he’s done wrong” montage. Brilliantly edited.
The 12-inch vinyl record player in Black Beauty is an amazing touch, as was the scene where Kato and The Green Hornet drive around LA singing along to Gangsta’s Paradise (Reid rapping, Kato doing the singing). Little touches like that.
The final showdown in the Daily Sentinel (first in the printing plant, then in the newspaper offices) is a classic, old-school, hero and villain beatdown.
Some fantastic car chases. Unlike The Dark Knight, you can actually see what’s going on. Plus I’ve always been a sucker for James Bond style car gadgets, which this movie serves up in huge portions. it’s a miracle Black Beauty moves given that she’s kitted out with bulletproof glass, two gatling guns in the bonnet, that record player, suicide doors with guns built into the hinges, tyre-slashing hubcaps and … MISSILES.
There’s also a great recurring joke where Chudnofsky, taking on advice given to him by Franco in the first scene, tries to come up with something pithy to say to people just before he kills them – and once he’s got the catchphrase perfected, fails to actually kill anyone as a result of wasting time saying it.
And in general?
The general audience reaction was good – there was plenty of laughter in all the right places. I imagine a lot of people won’t “get” it but I tell you what – it kicks Iron Man 2‘s ass, big time.
There you go. Now… when can I see it? And in 3D too, please.
*I don’t think our spy has 127 Hours, so they may be on the verge of changing their tune. Perhaps.