A feature film based on the old radio program from the 1930s, The Green Hornet, has been in development for decades, but last year the film finally saw the light of day with a planned summer, 2010 release. However, the film eventually was pushed back until January of this year, being a grave sign that it wasn't the product the studio was hoping to be releasing. With talented indie director Michel Gondry at the helm (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind), it seemed like a "can't-miss" vehicle for the acclaimed director. But comedian Seth Rogen took a passionate interest in the franchise and signed on to help write the script and even star as the lead. The end result is as mixed, and perhaps even as schizophrenic, as one might assume it could be.
After watching The Green Hornet, it's clear as to why it was given a safe release in the theatrical off-season. It was a hit at the box office since there wasn't much competition, but despite the film having a slick look and vibe, Rogen being a comedian in an otherwise more serious role isn't the success that Michael Keaton as Batman was in the late 80's. The biggest problem that the 2011 Green Hornet has going for it is the feel of the film; Rogen inserts plenty of comedy into the flick with his usual slacker character, constantly making wisecracks and treating the world as his playground. It's to the point that you see his partner Kato doing far more heroics than the title character, making you wonder just what "The Green Hornet" is even around for. The film gives him a moment or two to shine, but ultimately, Rogen's incarnation of the character doesn't really do much or accomplish anything; He's mostly cowardly, egocentric and incompetent. Rogen plays on that for a comedic slant to the film, but it hurts it as a superhero genre film in the longrun.
Granted, The Green Hornet is really just your average guy who happens to moonlight as a crime-fighting hero, but the film gives Kato more of a superhero, serious butt-kicking ability that greatly overshadows anything Rogen's Hornet can and does do. Even when you think the Hornet is about to save the day, he goofs up in the end (Almost imagine if the Pink Panther tried to be a superhero). Rogen, being primarily a comedic actor, sticks to what he knows best. While that works on some level, it makes the film feel uneven tonally. In the end, The Green Hornet is more of a buddy action-comedy like Rush Hour than a crime-fighting hero movie. The film's opening scene shows James Franco making a cameo appearance as a sleezy club owner who meets the villainous Chudnofsky, and the dialog feels more adlibbed than scripted. We're introduced to a criminal who is a cold-blooded killer but is quickly losing his image as such. He spends the rest of his scenes trying to win back credibility. It makes him an amusing character that isn't comedically over the top, but he's unpredictable and menacing because you're not quite sure what he is going to do next. Christoph Waltz stars as Chudnofsky and does a decent job in the role, but it's not a villain that will be as memorable as, say, Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin in Spider-Man or Heath Ledger as The Joker in Dark Knight.
The only level The Green Hornet works on is for sheer mindless entertainment, which is fine if that's all you're looking for. As a buddy action-comedy, the movie works very well. Gondry is a good director and tries to overcome the indecisive tone of the film that Rogen brings to it, but the film's two-hour running time is also another hindrance. The movie features plenty of action, gadgets and even nods to the original series (like the car and costumes) to earn it some merit, but the fingerprints of Rogen are smudged all over The Green Hornet and it keeps the film from ever truly getting any higher than bargain-bin status. For example, there's a scene where Rogen's alter-ego Britt Reid immaturely argues with Kato and it turns into an all-out physical brawl between the two in the millionaire's home. Not only does it go on for way, way too long, but it makes both characters less endearing and just feels unnecessarily violent and excessive. It's really the only glaring moment in the movie that just screams to be edited down, but it's also a testament to the film's excessive violence. By the time the finale rolls around where destruction is heaped upon more destruction, the violence borders on overwhelming as Hornet and Kato drive half of the Black Beauty through office cubicles before unloading rockets and machine gunfire inside an office building at their enemies. It's all action for action's sake, and moderately entertaining if that's your bag, but it just adds to the schizophrenic nature of the film's overall tone.
With that said, the content in The Green Hornet is a very hard PG-13. Whether or not the film was originally intended to be rated R, I can't say, but the characters are constantly using profanity and some of the violent content gets to be a bit graphic towards the end. The worst of it comes when Kato breaks what looks like a slab of wood in half and jabs the sharp ends of it into the eye sockets of a bad guy. We briefly see the victim's shocked face with the wood pieces graphically sticking out of their face as they fall over. It's not bloody, but it's shocking and still very gruesome. Shortly after that happens, we see a car hit a person, pin them to the front of the vehicle, and cause them to fall a great distance to their death; we briefly see the wreckage and some blood on their face afterwards. Finally, another character is shot and we see the small bloody bullet wound in their shoulder a few times on their bare skin (And by the time someone is about to bring a knife to the wound to dig out the bullet, I was starting to believe they were going to show the gory action, but thankfully they did not). Other violence includes people being shot suddenly, sometimes at point-blank range, and lots of hand-to-hand fighting and martial arts. We often see Britt and Kato sharing drinks together and there is some crude dialog as well, usually from Britt. Finally, Britt appears to use the F word once while almost 40 uses of the "S" word are included throughout the film, along with many other profane words or expressions. It's really unfortunate because it doesn't seem like the kind of movie that should include such content (especially given its more family-friendly origins many decades ago).
Overall, The Green Hornet was a very entertaining buddy action-comedy, but Seth Rogen's involvement may be the film's downfall. Perhaps it would have worked better as a period film, set within the time when the series originated, or perhaps just a stronger cast and script would have helped the movie more. If you like Rogen's shtick, then The Green Hornet is certainly your kind of movie. It's the kind of juvenile, over-the-top film that Michael Bay's Transformers offers, just without the benefits of giant robots from your childhood being brought to life. Regardless, the 2011 big screen adaptation of The Green Hornet is only slightly above average entertainment with more flaws than highlights. Granted, the film is more watchable than most flubs in the genre, but the violent content and frequent profanities keep The Green Hornet from being the kind of film to make a lasting impression or be among the best of its genre.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 5/1/11)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
I didn't catch The Green Hornet in the theaters, so my first experience with the film was at home on Blu-Ray disc. The film was also shown in 3D in the theaters, but this will be a review for the 2D Blu-Ray release (3D Blu-Ray discs are being released too). Some of the visuals and effects are clearly geared towards a 3D presentation, but in high definition, the film looks excellent. While most film releases like this would be expected to include a bonus DVD and/or digital copy, Sony has chosen to only release the Blu-Ray by its lonesome. But along with the feature film is an array of bonus features on this single-disc release.
The Green Hornet Cutting Room - This gives movie fans a chance to edit clips from the feature film and move selected sound effects and music to create your own unique version of the content. I'm not sure this is really a worthwhile featurette but Sony boasts it as an exclusive for their movies, so I suppose it's popular enough to keep doing.
Deleted Scenes - There are nine deleted scenes. The first features Britt's father meeting with one of his staff. The second scene shows Britt clumsily hopping the fence in the cemetery and climbing up his father's statue to vandalize it, while Kato waits in the car, rocking out to music (This scene contains 1 "S.O.B."). The third is Kato and Green Hornet at a gas station trying to fill up their car after a successful fight (1 "h*ll, 1 "cr*p"). Next is a cute scene where Kato and Lenore are walking and talking together after having had dinner together the night before (2 "d*ckweed"). Next is a sequence where Britt asks Kato to make him coffee before they go meet Chudnofsky. Next is a super short scene where Kato walks into his place and smashes a keyboard in half in anger. The sixth scene is Britt in a bar alone drinking (probably after his fight with Kato) and he happens to be sitting near Chudnofsky. They briefly talk and it inspires Britt to go out alone as Green Hornet... but he can't figure out how to get Black Beauty to start (2 "S" words). In the next scene, Chudnofsky's guys abduct Scanlon and they discuss business (1 "g*dd*mn," 1 "G-d," 3 "h*ll," 1 "J-sus"). Lastly, we see Kato and Britt being chased after their confrontation with Chudnofsky (1 "b*stard," 2 "h*ll," 3 "d*ck," 3 "J-sus," 1 "a" word, 8 "S" words, 3 "G-d," 1 "a**h*le," 1 "bang"). This last sequence is an extremely long scene which actually includes some great dialog from Chudnofsky that is bittersweet to have out of the film. However, this chase scene is so ridiculously long that it just had to be cut down. It's amazing to see how much was filmed for this outlandish chase sequence (and only some of it ended up in the film).
"Awesoom" Gag Reel - This is a montage of b-roll footage, adlibs, outtakes, and flubs. Some of it is a little crude and there's occasional mild language, but ultimately this montage is cleaner than the movie itself. It's evident the crew had a blast on the set.
"Trust Me" - Director Michel Gondry - This is a great featurette dedicated to the direction of Michel Gondry and how he came to helm this project. He's had a specific vision for the movie but seemed to have to convince movie studios that he could do it. It's revealed, also, that Green Hornet was the first film he'd wanted to do fifteen years ago but it didn't work out for him to do it. (1 "S" word)
Writing The Green Hornet is dedicated to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who wrote the story and screenplay of The Green Hornet. It's interesting to hear their first-hand intentions for the movie and it does explain the tone of the film. So when Rogen explains that it's a movie about flipping the stereotype so that the sidekick is the hero, the father isn't a role model, the heroes don't really get the girl and the villain is insecure and trying to prove himself... the film makes a lot more sense. Rogen also states that the movie was meant to feature almost every character being insecure in who they are (2 bleeped out "F" words, 2 "d*ck," 1 "G-d," 2 "h*ll," 1 "a" word, 1 "S").
The Black Beauty: The Rebirth of Cool - This is a great featurette about how they decided to keep the car the same as the TV show and just beef it up for the film. Here we see some footage from meetings about what the car should be and look like and even see how the first car was destroyed on the first day of filming (1 "J-sus Chr-st").
The Stunt Family Armstrong is a cool featurette dedicated to the Armstrong family who have been stunt doubles and coordinators for decades. Vic Armstrong even doubled for Superman and Indiana Jones in those original films. Here we see them set up and carry out a few stunts, mostly car crashes, and hear from the Armstrongs about how difficult it can be to watch their family members do these intense stunts.
Finding Kato - I didn't know this, but Jay Chou is actually a mega star in China (Rogen referred to him as the "Chinese Justin Timberlake"). Chou knows martial arts and is a huge pop star in China. This featurette shows some of his live concert performances as well as how he learned things and trained especially for the film (2 "a" words, 1 "Chr-st," 1 "d*mn," 5 "a**-h*le").
The Art of Destruction - This an extensive look at the destructive action in the film, especially the film's big explosions -- from the opening club explosion to the hibachi wall explosion to the destruction at the Daily Sentinel. It's pretty insane how they did these stunts and it effectively answers that age-old question... "How did they DO that?!" (2 bleeped "F" words, 1 "h*ll," 2 "S," 1 "a" word, 1 "J-sus Chr-st")
PS3 Theme - There's a simple The Green Hornet PS3 theme that you can install on your Playstation 3 system. The background features The Green Hornet, Kato, Lenore and "Bloodnofsky," while all the icons are green.
Overall, there is a wealth of extras packed into The Green Hornet Blu-Ray disc and it feels rather complete. Fans of the film will be happy with what's included here.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 5/1/11)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: While partying, we see Britt hold a fire extinguisher at his crotch (while he's fully clothed) and we see the smoke shoot out from it. We later see photos in the paper of that shot; We see two brief scenes of two different parties (one in a club, one Britt is at) that shows women dancing seductively and such (some girls show cleavage as well); Britt takes a girl home after the party and we see a sped up montage of them entering different cars in his father's garage and making out and groping each other (clothed) in several of them as the camera pans by; Britt wakes up the next morning with the aforementioned girl in his bed. We see her shoulders and chest as she's wearing a negligee while in his bed; Britt flips through a sketchbook of Kato's and when he sees a sexy girl (not nude), he jokingly asks Kato if he's a pervert; Britt introduces Kato to the newspaper board as "my man" but defensively corrects himself as not to insinuate that they're gay. A moment later the board tells Britt not to blow the Green Hornet story out of proportion and Britt replies "I will blow this guy in any proportion I want!"; Britt tells Lenore that she has "balls" because she's so strong-willed, and that he likes his women that way; We briefly see Britt in a pool with two women in small bikinis; Britt tells Lenore that because a restaurant serves food in the dark that each bite is "like an orgasm in your mouth;" Britt tells Kato that he can't "nail" Lenore and that she's "un-nailable" (maybe meaning for a date, maybe meaning sexually); During an argument, Kato makes a gesture with by smacking the sides of his wrists together that Britt remarks as being vulgar (assuming Kato meant he slept with Lenore, but he didn't); When Kato says he grew up "penniless on the streets," Britt tells him that he was "penis-less;" Britt tells Lenore that Kato made the gesture that insinuated that he'd slept with her. After that, Britt tries to kiss Lenore but she pushes him away and tells him to not look at her "*ss" anymore; We briefly see Lenore in a towel after showering (we only see her bare shoulders)
Vulgarity/Language: 1 "f" word, about 38 "s" words, 1 "J-sus," 1 "g*dd*mn," 1 "S.O.B," 11 "a" words, 5 "*ssh*le" (1 of those is seen written), 15 "h*ll," 3 "d*mn," 1 "p*ssy," 5 "b*tch," 2 "s*cks," 6 "cr*p," 5 "balls," 7 "d*ck," 2 "b*stard," 5 derivatives of "G-d"
Alcohol/Drugs: We see a wild party where there is lots of drinking and pouring of liquor; Britt drinks in his dad's office; We see Britt and Kato drinking and talking; We see more drinking during a montage; Green Hornet and Kato confronts a group of drug dealers and then drive to their meth lab and drive through the wall; We see some other drinking during the film as well
Blood/Gore: Chudnofsky guns down one of his men and we see two bullet holes on the wall behind the victim with some blood running down them (the victim's shirt is torn up where he was shot, but there's no blood); There is a montage scene where various innocent victims wearing green are murdered by street thugs. All of the victims meet violent ends and we see a little blood on some of them. The end result is a photo of dead bodies in a dumpster; Kato has a slightly bloody cut on his face; Kato stabs a man in the eye sockets with two pieces of broken wood and we see the wood sticking out of the man's eyes; A man puts a flash drive in his mouth before being hit by a car and falling to his death. We then see blood all over the man's head under the crash and some blood on the flash drive when a forensics team member pulls it from the man's mouth; We see blood on a man's shirt and then on their shoulder after they've been shot. A person puts a knife to the skin (the contact isn't seen), but the plan to remove the bullet was aborted
Violence: To prove he's a threat, Chudnofsky shoots all of a night club owner's henchmen and then blows up the entire club; We see a gang of thugs beat up and rob a couple on the street. Britt and Kato then pursue them and Kato beats them up using martial arts; Kato and Britt go after a group of drug dealers and start a fight. They then drive to a meth lab, drive through the wall, and set the lab on fire; While Chudnofsky contemplates killing two men, we see a flash of a scene that involves a rotary blade presumably cutting off a man's hand (we don't see this, just see the blade come down and the man screaming) and then we see a metal door come down on another man's neck (not gruesome or gory); Chudnofsky shoots a man who doesn't find him threatening; We see a mixing truck land on top of a car and then see the victim in the car's arm hanging out of the car; Britt and Kato are buried alive in their car in a ditch but use the car's rockets to blow themselves out of the hole; Kato and Britt have a brutal fight inside Britt's place which causes a ton of destruction as they punch, kick and beat on each other all around the room, using all kinds of objects against each other; Chudnofsky shoots his partner; Britt punches Scanlon; A hole is blown through the wall of the hibachi place before a gunfight breaks out; A big and destructive car chase ensues with all kinds of explosions and lethal accidents; The chase ends up at the newspaper building where Black Beauty is cut in half in an elevator and then drives through cubicles in an office; More fights break out with rockets and gunfire and people rammed by a car through walls, etc; Kato jabs two broken wooden sticks into a man's eye sockets and we see the wood sticking out of the victim's face; A car hits a man and drives off a great height, crushing the man on the ground below; Lenore beats on Britt and Kato when she finds out who they are; A person makes a move to remove a bullet from a wound with a knife but stops before really doing anything; A person is staged to look like they've been shot so they can get proper medical treatment
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.