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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Comedy > Action > The Green Hornet (2011/Sony Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D & DVD)

The Green Hornet (2011/Sony Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D & DVD)


3D Picture: B+     2D Picture: B     DVD: C+     Sound: B & B-     Extras: C+     Film: C



It took a long while for a new Green Hornet to become a reality.  A huge hit on radio where it began, the last time the character was launched in any major form was the 1960s series with Van Williams and Bruce Lee which was not a hit, but Lee’s participation made it a cult classic and it has been influential ever since.  Memorabilia one the show is always priced very high.  Several attempts to revive fell through.  Among the known ones include a Mark Wahlberg/Jet Li feature film, a previous no-go with director Michel Gondry and Kevin Smith tried to script a feature he would direct before he opted out.  So when Gondry was back and joined by comic Seth Rogen, what kind of film would they come up with?


Well, we knew it would not be a serious one, especially with Rogen not exactly known for having a tuned-up physique.  Still, this could work.  Christoph Waltz was hired off of winning an Oscar for Inglourious Basterds sending up his villain persona, Cameron Diaz was signed as Lenora Case, Edward James Olmos not playing Irish as Mike Axford and Jay Chou taking on the role of Kato.  It turns out not to be a bad cast, but sadly, what could have been a hilarious laugh riot of a film falls apart midway and never recovers.


So what happened?  Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg wanted to do yet another comedy spoof of the genre and saw the opportunity to do this with a major character and set off in that direction.  Unfortunately, they did not understand what made the team work, threw in everything but the kitchen sink and the potential comedy is undermined by a one-note slacker attitude that stops being funny after a few minutes as Rogen’s Reid is the same character Rogen has played to death.  The team did a great job on Superbad, allowed Pineapple Express fall apart midway and lose control of this project even sooner.


Chou has problems with his English dialogue and Gondry is not exactly an action director, though he can definitely handle people and comedy.  His fifth feature film is easily his most commercial one, but he is not able to handle a narrative at feature length all the way, but any problems here are more on Goldberg and Rogen.


So the set-up has a very young Britt Reid dealing with his strict father (Tom Wilkinson) decades before, then Reid inheriting the family newspaper empire The Daily Sentinel in the present.  So is he an upstanding citizen well raised with fine money and resources as was the case in past incarnations?  Of course not!  He is a partying playboy not doing much with his life, but wants to do something to honor his father in some way.  Enter Kato, who very slowly becomes his friend and helps him start their fun-at-first superhero team run until it meets the harsh realities of people getting hurt and killed.  The film never takes that or anything else on that level seriously, which backfires, but the point where Reid and Kato have a Peter Sellers/Burt Kwouk Pink Panther type fight minus any of the wit or humor, the film jumps the shark and never recovers.


Also annoying is the film’s inability to admit some of the modifications to The Black Beauty come from the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger (like the ejector seat and tire slashers, though it does note the latter is by way of Ben-Hur) and the side gun inside the door (which Gondry suggested according to a featurette) are originally from the Thrushbuster car from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series.  This is among the many signs the makers think the audience is dumb.  The fact this barely made back its money shows otherwise.


Even if that is forgiven, the film veers so much away from the original material that (as in most cases) it does not know where to go or where to end.  The best way top see the trouble and how this could have been a good film is by comparing the later car chase in the final film to the extended one in the Deleted Scenes section essentially directed by Vic Armstrong, the best Second Unit Director around (whose work rangers from Bond films to Martin Scorsese films) is longer, more fun, more action packed, has more great moments for Waltz and is the kind of impact climax the film needed and the audience expected.  So what did they do?  Cut it down, ruin it, sand down the edges and render it much less interesting and entertaining.  I have a feeling that epitomizes the whole film, which is why it was relayed and never had a chance.  The makers should have had more confidence in their first instincts (was this badly test-audienced?) instead of delivering this bland disappointment that tired to appeal to everyone and landed up appealing to no one.  Sad.

The 1080p MVC-encoded 2.35 X 1 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray 3D version and 1080p digital High Definition image on the 2D Blu-ray version began production in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision by Director of Photography John Schwartzman, A.S.C. and it is one of the reasons the film has the good look that it does.  Additional digital shooting and 3-D work followed, with the 3D being decided just after production ended, so it was at least considered early in post production and worked on by several companies.  The Blu-ray 3D version, as expected, is a little darker as is the case with most such releases, than the 2D version, but has just enough 3D that works that it was worth the upgrade.  However, the 2D version looks good and rich enough throughout the regular Blu-ray with a few demo moments though it may have even had its image very slightly degraded and/or restylized, holding it back a bit, but it shows some detail the 3D lacks.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD version is no match for either Blu-ray version and is pale in its Video Black as well as not having the color range.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Blu-ray is well recorded and often demonstrates fine sonic range, especially in action sequences, but the dialogue is too much in the center channel more than I would have liked and that holds back the soundstage and sonic possibilities overall.  Considering this was released in IMAX with its 64 speaker set up, could this have sounded better that way?  James Newton Howard’s score is not bad and the original theme from the 1960s show joins the Black Beauty design from that show resurfacing here.


Extras include Blu-ray exclusive BD Live interactive features and 2D Animated Storyboards.  The 2D Blu-rays adds a feature length audio commentary track by the filmmakers, a Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes as noted (including the extended car chase and seven featurettes: Writing The Green Hornet, Finding Kato, The Green Hornet Cutting Room, Trust Me: Director Michel Gondry, The Stunt Family Armstrong, The Art Of Destruction and The Black Beauty: The Rebirth Of Cool.



For more Hornet, try these links:


1940/1941 Serials VCI U.S. DVD Sets


Umbrella Australian DVD Set editions



1974 Bruce Lee ‘feature film’ (out of print collector’s item)




For more on Gondry, try this superior set of his shorts work from the Directors Label called The Work Of Michel Gondry:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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