How much enjoyment you’re liable to get out of The Green Hornet is likely to be directly linked to how much of former porker Seth Rogen you’re able to tolerate. If you’re expecting some gritty, noirish costumed hero thriller with its origins in the pulp comic strips of the 1930s or even something camp and colourful like the barely-remembered 1960s TV series, you’re going to be majorly disappointed. If you’re looking for a glorified “But, hey, dude…” slacker comedy with much prat-falling, slapstick and inappropriate levels of swearing, this one’s for you.
Rogen plays Brett Reid, louche playboy layabout son of a media mogul who inherits his father’s fortunes and his business. He reluctantly teams up with Kato, one of his father’s employees, and, for various obscure reasons, they create the alter-ego of The Green Hornet to fight crime whilst simultaneously being vilified as public enemies. Sounds a bit dull? Well, it is a bit despite the inspired choice of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as director. But Gondry’s own sensibilities appear to be subsumed by Rogen’s because Rogen’s all over this like a rash. He co-wrote the screenplay, he’s the executive producer…this is his vision of The Green Hornet through and through, his vanity project where he portrays himself as the superhero but instead of having the wit and guile to create a character who’s actually dynamic and heroic, he’s resorted to his now rather tedious default setting of lazy layabout slob taken out of his comfort zone.
There’s superficial fun to be had here and some spectacular action to take your mind off how ill-judged the whole enterprise is. Fight fans will be frustrated by the slow-mo fisticuffs but there are stunts and explosions and gunfights aplenty to guarantee that while you might not particularly enjoy the film you’re unlikely to fall asleep while it’s on. Waltz as the vain crime boss is a vaguely interesting villain, Cameron Diaz seems to have phoned in her performance and the film only really shows any visual spark at the very end when the theme to the old TV series kicks in and we’re treated to a colourful and imaginative animated credits sequence. Superhero fans either adore the dark stuff (The Dark Knight) or detest the lightweight (Fantastic Four); Green Hornet is so irreverent and throwaway it’s hardly worthy of proper consideration and it barely qualifies as a superhero movie at all. It’s a monumental misfire which doesn’t work as a comedy and rarely works as an action film. As far as I’m concerned The Green Hornet can just buzz off for good.
A few bits and pieces as extras on the DVD but the majority of the supplemental material can be found on the Blu-ray which looks in detail at the making of the film - what a shame no-one ever bothers to explain why it turned out the way it did.