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A QUICK HISTORY LESSON: "The Green Hornet" was created for radio in the 1930s and, as originally written, was related to another masked rider who fought crime. Said "Lone Ranger" also had a sidekick who matched him in popularity but that's not the point. The point is that fanboys looking for a connection in this new Green Hornet will have to watch carefully and think harder than usual. It's very cleverly hidden. For just about everybody else, though, The Green Hornet (teevee version) is best known for introducing Bruce Lee to American audiences as said Hornet's sidekick, Kato.
We admit, our status as a fanboy does not extend to the various generations of the family Reid, which will mean some razzing from our studio publicist ('cuz we didn't get it right in various emails when we wrote as if we knew something). Put simply, this Green Hornet would be (approximately) the great-great-grandnephew of the Lone Ranger, give or take a "great," depending on licensing agreements allowing the film to say it was so... Which they don't. So, those wishing to follow the family tree of the original Hornet, click here
Now, onto the reboot ...
IN SHORT: Half of it is tremendous fun. Half of it isn't. [Rated PG-13 for Sequences of Violent Action, Language, Sensuality and Drug Content. 108 minutes]
James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) is the upstanding publisher of The Daily Sentinel, the only family owned newspaper remaining in modern day Los Angeles. Reid is also an emotional abusive, absentee parent to son Britt (Seth Rogen), who wastes his days with wine and women and, well, Britt doesn't much like music so that's about it. When daddy James dies suddenly, from an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Britt is left in charge of the paper knowing nothing whatsoever about how to run a newspaper.
Britt cares little about the paper, more than willing to leave it in the hands of editor Mr. Axford (Edward James Olmos). What Britt wants is a good cup of coffee . . .
. . . hey, Rogen co-wrote this thing. He's a comedian. Let go of your superhero preconceptions and welcome one Kato (Jay Chou) to this story. Not only does Kato brew a mean cup of coffee, he has also created a garage full of weapons enhanced automobiles per the orders of an apparently paranoid James Reid. The existence of said automobiles inspires Britt to become the one thing his father apparently hated. A masked crime fighter! But, given the fact that he is completely unqualified and untrained to battle anything resembling crime, it is Kato who saves the night when a gang of vicious criminals attacks a pair of innocent anonymous folks.
Which wasn't the plan at all. Y'see, Britt figures the best way to battle crime is to become a criminal himself; that being the best way to take criminality down from the inside. No, it doesn't make any sense but Britt has a newspaper that can promote the efforts, so to speak, of this new masked man. His editorial board comes up with the name "Green Hornet." A new temp secretary, Lenore Chase (Cameron Diaz) is promoted to permanent status by Britt, to "research the history of the Hornet." Meaning? She's got a great shape, especially the lower rear portion, and Britt is all eyes -- hey, we're a family friendly site. It doesn't matter. Lenore has eyes for Kato, the "executive associate".
Strangely enough, the half of the film that works well is the half we dreaded. That pre-Hornet half is a lot of fun to watch. Then the Hornet steps in and the film shifts from comedy to actionflick and pretty much falls apart. For, in trying to take down crime from the inside, the Hornet comes up against the man who actually controls all crime in LA, one Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). Once the Hornet starts disabling his meth labs and such, Chudnofsky magnanimously offers to split the city -- he'll take the "A" sections. Hornet gets the "L" (or vice versa -- this is about where the film starts to fall apart). Kato senses a trap and, as with everything else in this relationship, it is Kato who has the brains. It is Kato who saves the day. It is Kato who is ignored by the press coverage of the new War of the Criminals in the city of angels.
There follows a bit about the long standing, slap on the back relationship between the LA DA Scanlon (David Harbour) and the Sentinel. It doesn't really matter. From this point out, the film gets frenetic and uncentered and basically blows itself up.
Any little kid dragged by their parents into this film will wake up at this point. Grownups surprised that the first half didn't stink will find themselves thinking that it was too good to last. And we found our self wondering how Olmos and Diaz got dragged into this thing.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Green Hornet, he would have paid . . .
We will offer up half a bag of props here. No person is ever going to top Bruce Lee and Jay Chou doesn't attempt to show off that he can. His scenes include a well-placed acknowledgement of Mr. Lee and that made our audience go "aww."
The Green Hornet wallpapers can be downloaded: click here
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