January 24, 2011

The Green Bee... B-Movie, That Is

Hatched by Dafydd

I may be stepping on Movie Badger's toes, but I happen to know I've got at least twenty pounds on him, and he has a glass jaw. Still, if'n he wants to chime in with his own review of the Green Hornet, he's welcome.

The best I can say is that I liked some elements of the movie somewhat:

  • I liked the costumes, the character names, and the Black Beauty, because they were essentially identical to those in the TV series.
  • I liked the Britt Reid/Green Hornet character arc, from vapid playboy, to thrill-seeking vigilante, to someone who actually cares about the people he's protecting. (Though not much concern about innocent bystanders and bydrivers!)

And... well, I guess that's it. I'm unhappy about the balance between sense of humor -- too much -- and sense of serious -- too little; one reason I-as-a-child liked the Green Hornet TV series more than Batman was that the former was a dramatic-action version of the latter.

Both series' superheros were ordinary mortals (and had great sidekicks -- literally, in Kato's case -- who were equally mortal); no Superman or Flash or Incredible Huck; no magical powers, no pagan gods. But Batman was camped up (those corny "Bam! Pow!" spelt-out sound effects during fights, the costumes and capes, and Burt Ward's pencil stub of a love muscle); it was a show for slow children and smirking, mocking, braying teens.

Contrariwise, my recollection of the Green Hornet is that it was presented in a more realistic and serious manner: No costumed supervillains, no silly riddles and other deliberate clues left by self-destructive criminals for the hornet to solve, no Republic serial-like cliffhangers (well, until the last episode, kind of).

The Green Hornet was to Batman as the Man from U.N.C.L.E. was to Get Smart. Even as a kid, I was a bit off-put by the conscious campiness of BM. So I was annoyed that much of the current movie has Seth Rogen (Britt Reid/Green Hornet) acting like a drunken, clumsy, credit-grabbing, arrogant, ungrateful, incompetent oaf, hamming it up and mugging for the camera. I have "issues" with Rogen himself; he seems so childish and truculent compared to the adult Van Williams in the series.

Of course, Rogen has executive-producer and writing credits on the production, as well as starring. I suspect this was a personal project, like Rocky, with comedian Rogen as the showrunner; and there was no way he was going to allow anybody else to play the title role.

All that out of the way, the plot is incredibly thin and very unoriginal, ripping off several of the series episodes: A crime boss has taken over "all the crime in L.A." (huh?), and the hornet wants to bring him to book. In fact, I think there was more plot in the 23 minutes of a typical Green Hornet teleplay than in this entire $120 million blockbuster 3-D feature. It's really just one shootout after another, one explosion after another, dressed with flipping cars, butchered bystanders, and more shattered glass than Kristallnacht... interrupted only by unrealistic unpleasantness between the main characters. And it has a Mission: Impossible 1 style "twist" that is just downright offensive to series fans.

In the final insult, they don't even play the heart-racing theme music (a modified "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov, played on a trumpet) until the very end -- and then they cut it short!

Very disappointing; though it was amusing to watch the putative "action" sequences and the end credits in "flat," speculating what they would look like in the 3-D version. Frankly, I would rather have re-watched Tangled in 3-D -- the best non-Pixar Disney animation since Walt kicked the farm -- than have seen this yawner.

(Sachi's review is that she almost fell asleep.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 24, 2011, at the time of 2:21 PM

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The following hissed in response by: BlueNight

The 3D was rotoscoped, and mostly distracting. There were a few scenes either shot in 3D or very well rotoscoped. The credits were worth the extra $3.50, however, and it wasn't as eye-bleedingly bad as Narnia: Dawn Treader's 3D.

We're exiting the era of science-as-hero and reentering the era where uncouth, unaware brutes are the men of the hour. This film is a clumsy representation of this "bro" zeitgeist that has been in play since "Dude, Where's My Car?". (That film was preceded by "There's Something About Mary" and, ultimately, "Animal House.")

The above hissed in response by: BlueNight [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 25, 2011 10:57 PM

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