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    The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

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    Paeter
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    The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on January 14th 2011, 6:05 pm

    I'm a big fan of Green Lantern, and it used to be that when I would tell people this, they might say "Oh, yeah! Kato was cool!" I got used to sighing as I explained that Green Lantern and Green Hornet were two different characters, and that Green Lantern was MUCH cooler. Green Lantern is still the cooler hero, but the new Green Hornet movie comes closer to competing than ever before.

    Seth Rogen, best known for raunchy comedies like "Knocked Up" and "Observe And Report", brings his comedic sensibilities to bear as both writer and star of "The Green Hornet", while trading in most of his raunchy humor for some really cool action and gags with more general appeal.

    Based on the radio and tv shows of the same name, the story centers on Britt Reid, the recent heir of his father's newspaper media empire. Realizing that he has wasted himself in a life of decadence, Reid decides to make a difference by becoming a masked crime-fighter. With one twist. He presents himself as a criminal, so that he is able to get closer to organized crime than a professing hero ever would.

    Aiding him and providing the vast majority of practical skills, is Kato, the mysterious Japanese man who served as auto mechanic and "coffee maker" for Britt's father. His true talents, however, including martial arts mastery and technical wizardry, are the most potent tools he brings to the table.

    This movie is just plain fun. The action scenes are very cool to watch, featuring a return to some of the stylized slow motion and crazy camera moves of the Matrix movies, with even more inspiration possibly being taken from Jet Li's "The One", in which the chief combatant movies in normal or slightly slower motion, while those he is attacking move and respond to blows at various slower speeds. It's really something to see and a visual high point of the movie. And if your action tastes are more down to earth, there's also a tricked out car and various forms of big, manly guns involved on a regular basis. Any fears I had about action being sacrificed to comedy evaporated in the first 30 minutes. This is a great action flick with some dazzling and clever stunts and effects that often had me grinning from ear to ear.

    The writing and performances by Seth Rogen (Green Hornet) and newcomer Jay Chou (Kato) were a ton of fun to watch. The rest of the cast does a fine job, and the chief villain, played by Christoph Waltz of "Inglourious Basterds", is very unique and fascinating in every scene, offering a few laughs of his own. Cameron Diaz also does well with her relatively small role, playing off of Rogen's comedic timing to good effect. But the stars of this movie are clearly Green Hornet and Kato, and the bond they form with each other.

    This Green Hornet is a fairly average joe who's a bit out of shape and just gets lucky a lot. But he's not so inept that every moment is played for comedy. In fact he has a few moments in which he rises to the occasion and pulls off some great super-heroics. But these are the exception to the rule, and his primary role is to create a character the audience can walk in the shoes of, enjoying the ride vicariously through him. The device works brilliantly and lends itself to some gratifying and hilarious moments. I don't often laugh at comedies, but this movie, not even a pure bred comedy, had me laughing a number of times.

    The script certainly allows for some interesting themes to discuss. The idea of doing the right thing, even when being condemned for it, is central to the concept. A few other elements are worth pondering as well. But the forward energy of the comedy and action never lets up long enough for any potentially worthwhile content to be noticed on a casual viewing.

    The tone of the movie is similar to the first "Iron Man" movie, although this film leans a little more on the side of comedy than action. But its a fantastic flick that I would highly recommend to almost anyone.

    Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.

    Quality: 9.5/10

    Relevance: 5.5/10

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    Rickster

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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  Rickster on January 14th 2011, 10:38 pm

    Does the movie make any reference to him being related to the lone ranger? [justify]

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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on January 15th 2011, 7:34 pm

    What's the language like? Seth Rogen belongs to my "potty mouth" club.

    I fully intended to give this movie a pass, based solely on the fact that it's a comedy and not a dramatic film. Maybe I'll shoot for a matinee.


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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  Nathan James Norman on January 15th 2011, 10:12 pm

    I saw Green Hornet last night and thought it was good . . . except for the flagrant dropping of s-bombs throughout the movie.

    Morality aside, it seemed lazy on the part of the writers (which included Rogan). I also found it interesting that whereas the 1960s Batman took a serious character and went campy, the 1960s Green Hornet was a serious show. Now, half a century later, Batman is only portrayed as serious and the Green Hornet is shooting for campy.

    Now, back to the profanity. The brilliance of the '60s Batman camp was that small children could watch the show and think it was a legitimate action show (I know I did), while adults could watch it for the not-so-subtle humor. This formula would have worked great for the current Green Hornet film . . . except the constant dropping of s-bombs makes the film only accessible to older crowds.

    They really missed an opportunity here.

    Also . . . I didn't recall any reference to the Lone Ranger, but in the credits (which were pretty cool in 3-D) had a copyright notice about the Lone Ranger in them. I must have missed the poster or reference.

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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on January 15th 2011, 11:27 pm

    Regarding language, I agree about lots of s-bombs, but don't remember any f-bombs, which pg-13s can usually get away with one. Outside that, I'd have to know exactly what constitutes "potty mouth" for you. I'd recommend screenit.com for a precise breakdown of all potentially offensive content. They do an amazing job.

    Nathan, I'm not sure what the definition of "camp" is, but the humor didn't seem to be shooting for "Batman TV Show" in this movie. It struck me more as comedic deconstruction of the genre rather than a tongue in cheek mockery, which the Batman show was.

    I can see your point about lazy writing, though it didn't bother me, given that the selling point for me was often the performances rather than the written jokes themselves. Comedic acting verses comedic writing.

    Is the movie worth seeing in 3D? (For more than just the credits.)


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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on January 16th 2011, 2:23 pm

    Well, "camp" humor derives from ostentation, exaggeration, excessive theatrics, and a pretentious assumption of sophistication with an underlying affection for the material. The 1960's Batman was a perfect example of "camp" humor, created at the height of the genre's popularity.

    "Mockery" as humor relies on imitation of a subject with particular attention to its flaws, inconsistencies, and underlying assumptions, where that imitation is taken to an extreme situation not intended by the original subject. It is often mean-spirited, showing a contempt for the original material. Perhaps the most readily available example of "mockery" as an art form is Family Guy and its cousins.

    "Deconstructionism" takes a subject matter and attempts to demonstrate that the given material is based on contradictory assumptions and internal opposition. It is similar to the "camp" approach, but strives for an irreducable interpretation of the material rather than a presentation. For this show to be a "comedic deconstruction of the genre" it needs to make the assumption that the underlying material is in fact ridiculous, and should not or cannot be taken seriously. A major difference between this approach and that of "camp" humor is that "camp" humor makes the assumption that a serious subject may also be taken lightly.

    Based on Rogen's previous work, I'd have landed Green Hornet squarely in the "mockery" category, sight unseen. I don't believe he is capable of a sophisticated deconstruction, nor that he takes anything seriously enough to be campy.

    Thanks for the Screenit referral, I'll be checking that site out. Language is a primary indicator of a film's quality of writing. Consistent and pointless use of vulgarity either to indicate extreme emotion or for comedic value is a huge indication of lazy plotting and meaningless character interaction. Writers have a lot of time to develop scripts, and characters should be able to speak without resorting to s---, f---, or g--d--- to evoke a reaction from the viewer. Plus, I don't want it in my house, teaching my children that this is a desirable way to express yourself.

    For my tastes, writing always trumps performance. Clever material will do much for a poor actor, but I find little value in a great actor trotting out unimaginative dialog, vulgarity, and cliche.

    The bottom line: I won't be going out of my way to see Seth Rogen's Green Hornet. It appears to rely on cheap gags, vulgarity, mockery, and caricature, with no love for the superhero genre. For a deconstruction of the superhero, I'd rather watch "Kick Ass", or "Defendor".


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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  litera9 on January 16th 2011, 4:30 pm

    I don't know. I want to see it because of the reviews that commend the action and humor; however, Rogen and his history make me hesitate. I'll probably wait for it to come on DVD, and then make my final choice.

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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on January 16th 2011, 8:54 pm

    mindspike wrote:
    For this show to be a "comedic deconstruction of the genre" it needs to make the assumption that the underlying material is in fact ridiculous, and should not or cannot be taken seriously.

    Based on Rogen's previous work, I'd have landed Green Hornet squarely in the "mockery" category, sight unseen. I don't believe he is capable of a sophisticated deconstruction, nor that he takes anything seriously enough to be campy.


    For a deconstruction of the superhero, I'd rather watch "Kick Ass", or "Defendor".

    Mindspike- Based on your feedback, I'd say this movie qualifies, at times, as "comedic deconstruction of the genre", but not consistently. Through Rogen's "Britt Reid", we see a recognition of the ridiculousness of what they are doing as masked crime-fighters, but at the same time we're also encouraged to just "go with it".

    Regarding your estimation of Rogen's capabilities as a writer, it should be noted that he was one of two writers on the project, and I believe his name was listed second. Based on the experience I had, I'm guessing he was a "writer" in terms of scripted and unscripted jokes and gags that made it to the final cut, but was possibly much less involved in the core of the script.

    As far as content goes, I think this movie would fit much better in your home than Kick-Ass or Defendor would, if that's helpful to you. But it sounds like you're going to screenit.com, which I think is a much better tool for your discernment than my or anyone else's subjective descriptions.

    My guess is that most folks who are familiar with Rogen's work will find far less objectionable or crass material in this movie. The "college dropout vibe" that Rogen gives off in most of his stuff is still present, though without the rated R sex humor and toned down in other regards as well. I could be wrong, but I think most folks will be pleasantly surprised if they can go in without Rogen's previous movies as mental baggage.


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    Re: The Green Hornet (Movie Review)

    Post  Nathan James Norman on January 19th 2011, 9:04 pm

    Paeter wrote:Nathan, I'm not sure what the definition of "camp" is, but the humor didn't seem to be shooting for "Batman TV Show" in this movie. It struck me more as comedic deconstruction of the genre rather than a tongue in cheek mockery, which the Batman show was.

    Point taken. Change "camp" with the word "humor" and I still think my analysis stands.


    Paeter wrote:Is the movie worth seeing in 3D? (For more than just the credits.)

    Not really. There were some cool moments, but not worth the inflated cost of admission.

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    Green Hornet language

    Post  Drew.Rub on January 20th 2011, 10:35 pm

    I also thank you for the Green Hornet screenit.com reference. The middle school pastor at church and his family were planning on seeing it, and I had heard the movie had some vulgarity in it. I didn't think he'd want to watch it with his kids. They seemed rather deflated.

    I'll recommend screenit to them as well for future movies they may be interested in seeing. Although I don't have kids, I prefer to avoid movies that have an overuse of vulgar language. I think Mindspike's comment on the consistent and poi ntless use of vulgarity sums up my view pretty close.

    Plus, since I work with middle school kids at church, I can't really justify putting myself into that kind of environment when I'm trying to tell them they shouldn't surround themselves with the same kind of things. Gotta stay accountable.

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