Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Buzz on the Green Hornet

The Green Hornet
Directed by Michel Gondry
Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz
Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, Editor, The Daily Bosco

When it comes to The Green Hornet, the superhero originally created for the 30's radio show, I can be a geek sometimes. This is because after I watched the televison version back in the 60's I went back and listened to almost all of the episodes from the 30'-50's radio program as well as saw many of the old serial movies from the early 40's. I also read a lot of the Green Hornet Comics as well.

I can talk to you ad nauseum on facts about this masked crusader.

Like, did you know that The Green Hornet/Brit Reid is actually the cousin of the Lone Ranger? He was actually created by the same guys (Fran Striker and George Trendle) that created the Lone Ranger. Or did you know that his side kick Kato was orginally Japanese in the radio version in the late 30's, but with the USA going to war with Japan and the bombing of Pearl Harbor he then became known as "his valuable valet"? Later he was from the Phillipines and in the 50's he was from Korea.

Or did you know the original radio show used Classical music as buffer music and in the theme song? So as a lot of kids were listening to their favorite radio drama they were actually being introduced to fine classical music. I can go on...but I should probably get back to the review. And of course, a lot of these fun facts can be found online in such places as Wikipedia now.

The best heroes to me are the ones that actually have no super powers at all. They could be your neighbor or even you or me if we had enough ambition. And the Green Hornet (as well as Batman and Spiderman) fit the bill for me. In fact, the Green Hornet which predates Batman by more than a few years was the original in this genre. This is where the masked vigilante is mistaken for a criminal but solves crimes and brings criminals to justice. And to top it off, Brit Reid (Green Hornet's alter ego) is a newspaper publisher, which made it even more cool for me.

So I was worried that the new movie version of the Green Hornet was not going to meet with my high expectations for the franchise. I got even more worried when I heard the Director was Michel Gondry, a highly stylistic French director (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Science of Sleep and Be Kind, Rewind) and my hero was going to be played by comic actor Seth Rogen. Then I found out that Rogen was also going to handle the writing of the script. How was that going to work?

I decided to go to the theatres with an open mind on this. Afterall, another highly stylistic and different director Tim Burton directed the first Batman film and his lead actor was also a comedian, Michael Keaton. That worked out fine, so maybe I would be ok with this Green Hornet movie.

After viewing the Green Hornet I was pleasantly surprised that I rather enjoyed it. Because this Hornet doesn't take itself too seriously and that happens to be a good thing here. Where Burton and Keaton played it straight, dark, and serious... Gondry and Rogan use a combination of style and humor to paint the story to good effect.

And as a fan and self-proclaimed expert on all things Green Hornet, I can tell you that Gondry and Rogan pay homage to the classic Green Hornet in spades. For instance, the Black Beauty (The Hornet's car) is almost an exact replica of the George Barris designed car from the 60's television series. Classical music is introduced into the mix (like the original radio version). And some great Bruce Lee moves from the old martial arts films are replicated in the fight scenes by Jay Chou as the new Kato. Bruce Lee played Kato in the television series shortly before his untimely death. Even the closing credits utilize the old Hornet logo from the televison show and stylistic cartoon graphics.

In short this film was highly entertaining with a good mix of humor, bromance (between Kato and Britt Reid), exciting fight scenes and car chases as well as a pretty good thrashing of the Daily Sentinal building at the end. An excellent modern adaptation of the radio and television classic. And I understand the 3D Version is pretty cool too.

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