Friday, January 28, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: The Green Hornet

This is going to be a good year for movies, dear readers. I can feel it. Oh, and fair warning, folks, spoilers after the jump.

I've been writing about movies in one form or another since high school, really, and have developed something of a knack for telling how a year might go, movie-wise, as the writing has gone from school assignment to potential career mode to the current hobby it is today, fifteen years later. So, I have reason to believe that 2011 will be a good one for movies.

As The Green Hornet opens, we're introduced to a young boy named Britt Reed, who is being taken to his father's office in the headquarters of a newspaper called the Daily Sentinel. It seems our young hero to be has been sent home for the umteenth time after trying and failing to stop a gang of bullies from picking on somebody. Naturally, Dad Reed is upset over this, and tells his boy that he needs to straighten out.

From there, the movie flashes forward twenty years, and from here, it starts to get a little dicey until almost the end of the second act. After a montage of fast-motion sequences wherein Britt is essentially the stereotypical rich guy's kid, we begin to get inklings of the plot. Dad Reed comes along to find Britt and his girlfriend of the night just waking up on a hide-a-bed. Dad's all upset over the fact that his son's shenanigans are on the section front immediately following his own editorial about how crime is running rampant in their fine city. If you're willing to sit through all the character development and fun-with-machines sequences that cone along with Britt and his partner Kato becoming the Green Hornet duo, the third act and climax are worth the wait, I think.

You see, there's this oddly powerful yet strangely wimpy crime boss called Chudnofsky, who's only real claim to power is his super-sophisticated Glock with mechanical dual barrels, and he's managed to take over all the crime in Fictional Los Angeles. Certainly no small feat, but the man has had help not only from his own gang, but more recently, the district attorney, a guy by the name of Scanlon. The reason this association works out so well is because Scanlon has blackmailed Dad Reed into not printing any stories about the real state of crime in the city.

Unfortunately, Dad Reed grew a conscience after a couple years of censoring the news, and Scanlon murders him, making it look like Dad Reed died of a hornet sting. Almost immediately, Britt and Kato hit upon the idea of being crime fighters when they save a couple from muggers after beheading Dad's statue.

From there, it's probably another half hour or forty minutes of fun with machines and watching Kato get with Lenore Case, Britt's hot secretary, as Britt himself screws it up in the worst possible way every chance he gets. Eventually, Chudnofsky begins to see the Green Hornet as a threat and has his men go out and have their thugs try to kill the Hornet, which leads to quite a few people getting killed just because they're wearing green.

The good news from this is that Britt finally begins to grow up and get things right after that, beginning to put the talents available to himself and those around him to good use. Better yet, it isn't really what I'd call the bam-zwip sort of change, where suddenly the doofus of a guy we're supposed to buy as the hero just starts pulling everything out of his ass because he can, instead showing us an admittedly still sharp learning curve instead.

In act three, Britt actually starts getting that being a heroic crime fighter isn't all the cool ideas and nifty gadgets he had been pretending it was up until then. Of course, through all of this, it's actually Kato, the real brains, and also the brawn, for the most part, of the team, that makes it work. Kato's the one that pretty much builds everything and kicks most of the ass, with Britt, as the Green Hornet, being the face of the duo.

At the end, both Chudnofsky and Scanlon wind up dead after wrecking the hell out of the Sentinel headquarters, and Lenore saves Britt from having to reveal that he's the Hornet by having Kato, as the driver, “shoot” him in the same shoulder he was wounded in as the Hornet at a press conference.

What makes this movie really work for me is that it, like 2008's Kung Fu Panda, gets just about everything right, primarily by taking itself only just seriously enough to be convincing in the right ways and, in spite of using established characters, being essentially the sort of movie that really has nowhere to go but up. After all, I would consider myself an average viewer of this film. I've heard of the Green Hornet and know enough about the franchise to have some idea of what it's about, even if I can't claim to know much more. Then again, like most people, at least in the last few generations, I grew up more with bigger names like Superman, Batman, and I'll even dare say Iron Man and Spiderman.

And, like Kung Fu Panda, I went to see The Green Hornet primarily to get out of the apartment for a little while and came back feeling pretty good about the experience. This is especially good, because when I last paid the $8.25 for a night show, it was for Furry Vengeance, which, as I said on That Guy With The Glasses, left me feeling as though I had been cheated out of the money. Since that didn't really happen with The Green Hornet, I can honestly say that I think this will be a good year for me at the movies.

Yes, I think 2011 will be a good year for me at the movies. And I deserve it for a change.

Quick Info:

The Green Hornet
Run Time: 119 Minutes

Seth Rogan as Britt Reed/The Green Hornet
Jay Chou as Kato
Cameron Diaz as Lenore Case
Edward James Olmos as Mike Axford

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