When going in to watch a film with all the hype of The Green Hornet 3D, the whirlwind of information, opinion and conjecture about such a production makes it impossible to approach it without having any pre-conceptions. On the positive side, teaming the likeable Seth Rogen with the fabulously bizarre Michel Gondry raise hopes of a potent double header of comedy and glorious set pieces. However, the age it took to drag from development hell, the ship jumping of erstwhile director (and Kato) Stephen Chow and the tricky retrofitted 3D made many worried about the final product. Luckily, both sides crash together enough to leave a somewhat neutral plateau of hopeful trepidation. It is a shame, therefore, that such hopes were dashed.
Britt Reid (Rogen) is heir to his father’s media empire, and determined to enjoy every second that the party is high and responsibility is nowhere to be seen. Tragedy strikes, and after meeting coffee and car whizz Kato, he decides that grown up fun can be had committing petty crimes and fighting bigger ones under the guise of The Green Hornet. The terribly named Chudnovsky, played by a Christoph Waltz who dials in this performance so much that he could have just sat at home and used Skype, is the pissed off crime boss whose toes Reid and Kato trample on. The movie’s biggest star, Cameron Diaz, is seen almost as little as the effect she has on the plot, and by the end of the film, any stardust she could have sprinkled on proceedings is long gone. Hopefully, she got paid her normal megabucks salary, otherwise the mind boggles as to why she would ever take the part of the irritating Lenore.
The problems with The Green Hornet begin with Rogen. His usual laid back writing style has resulted in a weak script that limits the larger than life characters needed in a superhero film. In addition, Rogen has forged a successful career path for himself by playing loveable losers, who inspire audiences by having a good time despite a lack of wealth and prosperity. Therefore, Reid’s opulent lifestyle serves to make Rogen come across not as a loveable jerk, but simply as a jerk, with no sense of responsibility or concern for others. The only times we feel connected at all to him are when he is fooling around in the (gorgeous) Black Beauty with Kato, because space and resources are restricted.
Jay Chou is one of the very few redeeming features of this movie. He plays Kato with a vulnerability and strength, which suggests inner power and human fragility. However, the much talked about “Kato-time” actually looks quite dated, even if it is one of the very few opportunities we get to see strokes of Gondry’s stylistic brush. Action sequences are suitably gritty and spectacular, with the many scenes inside cars succeeding in not allowing the pace to drop.
Much of this is rendered irrelevant by the abysmal 3D conversion job done on The Green Hornet. One of the key issues with 3D is that wearing the glasses means that a good percentage of light and colour is lost. Never has this been more obvious than Hornet. Interior scenes are so dark the characters can barely be made out, and the focus is so ever-changing that blurring, confusion and colour loss are prevalent throughout. Retro-fitted 3D at least is not the way forward, and this is merely the latest big-budget example of this.
Overall, the problems with The Green Hornet 3D are numerous, and sadly, the laughs are not. Major stars are mis-cast, performances are dull, and camera work is uninspiring. If a studio is going to back the mouth-watering tandem of Rogen and Gondry, then they shouldn’t have rounded off every conceivable edge to result in a formulaic finished product. It should have been Superbad meets superhero, but in reality, The Green Hornet 3D is just super-bad