Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Green Hornet

As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat a good, old-fashioned, rollicking adventure story - the sort they just don't write any more (unless you count Adventure Eddy, that is.)

The sort of thing, in fact, inspired by those classic 40s serials. You know the ones: The Saint, The Shadow, Batman and, of course, The Green Hornet.

And if you like the Adventure Eddy dynamic - a rather hapless, well-intentioned hero getting into all sorts of trouble he can barely get out of - then you're going to love this year's big screen adaptation of The Green Hornet.

Based off the old radio show, and later TV series, The Green Hornet is the story of rich wastrel Britt Reid, who decides to embrace a crime-fighting alter-ego after his newspaper-editor father is mysteriously murdered. In the TV show he was tough, suave and effective. In this movie, he's hilariously anything but.

Seth Rogen - the chubby, ginger pothead of Knocked Up and Pineapple Express - slimmed down considerably to play the part of Britt Reid; but he kept the same dozy, smart-mouthed slacker persona (it's doubtful he can actually play anything else at this point in his career.)

After discovering his father dead, he recruits former mechanic Kato - played by Hong Kong newcomer Jay Chau - to help him create a secret identity meant to drive fear into the hearts of the crime syndicates that murdered his father. The joke is, however, that Kato is everything Britt isn't - a master mechanic, martial arts expert and street-smart avenger.

Get used to the rather confused look on Seth Rogen's face - he wears it for most of the movie

He builds a magnificent bulletproof car for them to cruise the streets in - the eponymous Black Beauty, once as famous as The Batmobile itself - and does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to battling the bad guys. Britt, on the other hand, establishes his identity as crime-fighter 'The Green Hornet' through his father's newspaper; in which he inflates his achievements through hyperbolic headlines and overly dramatic news stories.

This attracts the attention of crime boss Chudnofsky - played with delightful relish by
Inglourious Basterds's Christoph Waltz - who attempts to add a bit of theatrical flair to his own identity; adopting the name 'Bloodnofsky' to drive fear into his foes.

His foes, however, are far more focused on bickering and personal problems. Kato feels underappreciated, considered he's the one who builds the gadgets, beats up the bad guys and does the brunt of the work. Why is his hapless boss getting all the headlines?

And Britt, meanwhile, is achingly jealous of cool, capable Kato - realizing that this overblown alter-ego he's invented for himself could never exist without his anonymous sidekick.

The final plot twist brings these two bickering buddies back together and sees them engage in a thrilling chase across Los Angeles - winding up in one of the most explosive sky-scraper battles since Die Hard.

The action scenes are almost as eye-popping as The Green Hornet's emerald suits

It's face-paced, enormously irreverent and, quite simply, a ton of fun. With the smart suits, the beautiful car and the sharply written script, it's almost as if Seth Rogen had me in mind when he wrote it. It's the sort of film I'd love Adventure Eddy to one day star in (and Seth Rogen, with his vaguely ginger fro, huge sideburns and big chin, wouldn't be a bad star to play him.)

Apparently critics weren't too thrilled, and I guess I can't blame them. Seth Rogen essentially plays the same 'lovable' character from all of his other movies, and in many ways you could splice the action scenes from Pineapple Express and the embarrassing antics from Knocked Up and come up with something that wouldn't be far off what ends up on screen.

Likewise, true-blue fans of The Green Hornet weren't too impressed with the irreverent way he handled the scripts and characters - although personally, I thought he kept what was essential and Rogen obviously had some sincere appreciation for the original source material.

Ultimately, your verdict will be as subjective as mine - but I loved it, and I've got a sneaking suspicion that you will too.

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