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The Green Hornet (2011)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/3/2011

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/3/2011

The superhero movie trend has been going strong for over a decade now (and by this, I mean the most recent trend) and, judging by the upcoming summer movies, it shows no signs of slowing down. I'm sure that some are sick and tired of these movies, but I, for one, am not. As a life-long fan of comics and Saturday morning cartoons, I grew up with superheroes and I thoroughly enjoy the genre. The movies have been dominated by the likes of Spider-man and Batman, but there's always room for more, especially movies which can offer something quirky or different. And that's where The Green Hornet comes in.

Seth Rogen stars in The Green Hornet as Britt Reid, a notorious party-boy. Britt's father, James (Tom Wilkinson), runs The Daily Sentinel, and he's always been very critical of Britt, who lives off of his father's wealth and does nothing with his life. When James dies, Britt gets to know Kato (Jay Chou), the family's chauffeur, mechanic, and barista, and they pull a prank together. While doing, they foil a crime. Britt reluctantly takes an interest in the newspaper, and suddenly realizes that he and Kato can fight crime in the city, allowing the paper to spread news about their exploits. Taking the moniker The Green Hornet, Britt decides that The Green Hornet should do good deeds, but be portrayed as a bad guy while doing them, thus allowing him to move amongst criminals. This draws the attention of Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), the man who controls all of the crime in town. As The Green Hornet commits more nefarious deeds, his reputation grows. But, how can someone like Britt actually make this plan work?

A Green Hornet feature film was sort of a gamble, as the character isn't exactly a household name to most. I'm sure that many people assume that The Green Hornet is simply another comic book character. Actually, the character first appeared in a radio program in 1936 and continued in radio for years. The character also showed up in films and, yes, comic books. The characters most prominent exposure to a true mass audience came in the short-lived television series which ran from 1966-1967. The show is best remembered for the fact that Bruce Lee played Kato -- which explains the inside joke of Kato sketching Bruce Lee in the movie.

As for myself, I was somewhat familiar with the character, and, as far as I can tell, every incarnation of The Green Hornet has been played pretty straight. Several years ago Kevin Smith had been tapped to make the movie, but despite the fact that he wrote a script, the project never got off the ground. The Green Hornet was written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who had previously teamed up to write Superbad and Pineapple Express. Perhaps the idea for a comical take sprang from Smith's script (it's no great leap to assume this), but I was surprised by how much of a comedy this movie is. The basic idea behind the movie is pretty simple -- What is Batman was a moron? The movie takes this premise and runs with it, as Britt is a spoiled idiot who can't do anything for himself and it's up to Kato to do all of the work. However, this doesn't stop Britt from being egotistical and insisting that The Green Hornet get credit for everything.

Once you know that about the film, the cast of Seth Rogen in the title role makes (somewhat) more sense. However, that doesn't mean that he's perfect in the role. It's easy to assume that in real life, Rogen is the kind of person who is constantly cracking jokes in an attempt to lighten the mood, and that's how he plays Britt. Essentially, he's like the hero version of Rogen's character from Knocked Up. However, Rogen always looks as if he just crawled out from under a rock, so it's hard to buy him as a lifelong rich kid. Jay Chou, who is a superstar in Asia, is good as Kato, but he looks so much like John Cho that is kind of distracting.

The real star here is Michel Gondry who made his mark in film with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The Green Hornet is certainly a step up from his last outing, the disappointing Be Kind Rewind. This could have easily been just another super hero movie, but Gondry isn't afraid to bring his quirky style to it. Therefore, the fight scenes have a very cool look (as we see everything through Kato's eyes) and there's a hallucinatory sequence which doesn't really fit the rest of the film, but is cool nonetheless.

The problem with The Green Hornet is that it simply runs out of gas. At the outset, the movie's decidedly alternate take on the super hero genre is refreshing and there are funny moments in the first half. The first few action scenes are exciting and the gadgets created by Kato are undeniably cool. But, the second half of the movie gets too bogged down in the story, the jokes become repetitive, and we realize that The Green Hornet being somewhat of a loud-mouthed jerk may not be so cool after all. At two hours, the movie wears out its welcome, as the finale seems to go on forever (and we learn in the deleted scenes that there' an even longer cut). Reviving an old character while simultaneously spoofing the super hero genre was a good idea, and The Green Hornet certainly has its moments, but the parts are much greater than the whole.

The Green Hornet made me want them to drive every car in the garage except for the Black Beauty on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. One must be standing very close to the monitor to see any sort of grain or pixellation on the image. The colors look very good, with the greens dominating the picture. Much of the movie takes place at night, but the picture is never overly dark or bright. The picture has very good depth (even this non-3D version) and the level of detail is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. I guess that a higher bitrate doesn't always mean better sound, as the relatively low rate here provides excellent audio effects. The surround sound effects are nicely done and really stand out in the action scenes. The stereo effects show great separation and we get a good sense of objects moving from one side of the screen to another. The subwoofer effects are very good, but never overpower everything else. These effects are noticeable even at low volume.

The Green Hornet Blu-ray Disc contains many extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Seth Rogen, Producer Neal Moritz, Director Michel Gondry, and Co-writer Evan Goldberg. The Disc contains nine DELETED SCENES which run about 27 minutes. Most of these are simply extended versions of scenes already in the film. The bulk of this is taken up by an extended cut of the final chase scene which seems to go on forever. (Actually, it goes on for like 14 minutes, but it seems like forever.) We get a 7-minute "Awesoom" Gag Reel. "'Trust Me' - Director Michael Gondry" (10 minutes) takes us behind the scenes to show how the director brought his unique vision to the film. Rogen and Goldberg discuss their ideas, including things from the original story, and their writing process in "Writing The Green Hornet" (11 minutes). "The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool" (7 minutes) explores how the cars for the film were designed and built. We also see the actors driving the cars in tests. "The Stunt Family Armstrong" (8 minutes) introduces us to Vic and Andy Armstrong and their family, all of whom worked on the film doing stunts and second unit work. "Finding Kato" (6 minutes) profiles Jay Chou and we get to see him doing his day job as a singer in the East. "The Art of Destruction" (14 minutes) takes us on-set to see how some of the bigger explosions and action scenes were done.

Review by Mike Long.  Copyright 2011.