The Green Hornet on Blu-ray

Monday, 09 May 2011 12:45

At Cult TV Towers, The Green Hornet television series of the 1960s, starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, is one of the shows we’re always making time to re-watch when the mood takes us. Much like the Adam West Batman series, getting a commercial DVD or Blu-ray release of it is proving problematic, due to some complicated rights matters which mean that, whilst they can be repeated on TV, it’s going to be some time yet before you can own a copy.  A shame this cannot be the case for the recent “Green Hornet” movie.

I avoided reviews of the film, so as not to spoil the experience. I had to avoid seeing it at our local Showcase cinema as they refused to show it in anything but 3D (not my cup of tea – when I emailed Showcase to complain that no 2D screenings were happening, they told me to wait for the Blu-ray release, which I have dutifully done – anyone think that this attitude of my local cinema is barmy?). We finally got to watch it this week. Was someone at the studio going to keep Seth Rogen under control so the result was a pleasurable experience?  Er ... no.

The Green Hornet movie in Blu-ray 3D & 2D and DVDSuffice to say that no review copies were available, which from Sony is something of a surprise, so they MUST have known that our review was not going to be a pleasant one. Take a cult franchise and decimate it and most producers these days know the critical reaction they are going to get.

Okay, much like when you have to give a damning job appraisal when you’re a manager at work, I’ll start with the good work first.  The Green Hornet’s travelling arsenal, ‘The Black Beauty’ automobile is faithful to the design concept from the 1960s TV series. It is much higher-spec than its predecessor. And all in a good way.

The Green Hornet’s gas gun also lives up to its reputation, being faithful to the style of the television original if not the design, although there’s no “Hornet Sting” device for this revamp. The costumes of Hornet and Kato are faithful, too, and at one point near the end, for just a few seconds there’s an outing for the original TV theme tune, about the only time in the movie when true fans will feel shivers going down their collective spines.

Kato is also extremely well-cast, played by Jay Chou, a Taiwanese pop singer who is a fan of Bruce Lee. There’s even a hat-tip to original co-star Bruce Lee, when the new Kato has some sketches of him in his notepad.  A neat little move; just a shame there were so few others like this in the movie.

Seth Rogen basically plays the same character in all his movies.  For those unfamiliar with his work, he has the same orbit as Ricky Gervais in being just as annoying. For some reason unbeknownst to the civilised world, he is a darling of Hollywood. His breakthrough was playing Ken Miller in the Cult TV series Freaks and Geeks, which has to be said is probably going to go down as the height of his career.  Movies like “Knocked Up”, “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” went down very well with the knuckle-dragging mall-occupying fluoride-and-aspartame-haggled dopes that seem to make up the middle teenage years of the USA. However, these three all had a budget of around $30million, which they’d claw back on the opening weekend.

Unfortunately “The Green Hornet” was given a budget of $120million, and had an opening weekend of ... just over $30million. So, any studio in future who gives Mr Rogen a budget of more than $30million seriously needs to have their head examined, or be honest that it must be some sort of tax dodge!

So, let’s go to the official spiel about the movie: Britt Reid (Rogen) is the son of LA's most prominent and respected media magnate, and is perfectly happy to maintain a directionless existence on the party scene – until his father James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) mysteriously dies, leaving Britt his vast media empire.

Striking an unlikely friendship with one of his father's more industrious and inventive employees, Kato (Chou), who gets a profile with Britt only on the strength of his coffee, they see their chance to do something meaningful for the first time in their lives: fight crime. In order to do this, they become deliberately perceived as criminals themselves – Britt becomes the vigilante “The Green Hornet”, as he and Kato hit the streets, and the bad guys.

Kato builds the ultimate in advanced retro weaponry, The Black Beauty, an indestructible 1960s automobile equal parts firepower and horsepower. With the help of Britt's new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz – who might as well have been telephoning her lines in), they begin hunting down the man who controls the Los Angeles underworld - the incredibly insecure and image-conscious Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz chewing up the scenery and outshining dorkdom’s Rogen with every word and facial tick).

Director Michel Gondry won an Oscar for ‘Best Writing, Original Screenplay’ for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” which he also directed, in 2004 – an honour shared with Charlie Kaufman and Pierre Bismuth - blots his copy-book considerably with this movie. In fact, if you look at his credentials there is nothing there which shouts at you ‘action movie director’.  Although there is plenty of action, the forced comedy, obviously stapled in and laboured by co-writer Rogen, is nothing short of pathetic, and a travesty to the Green Hornet estate.  I’m surprised those owning the rights didn’t demand that the title was removed from the picture!

When you find out that co-writer Evan Goldberg also conspired with Rogen on the likes of “Superbad”, “Pineapple Express” and “Knocked Up”, the train wreck in waiting should have been fully expected.  These guys had a chance to show they could do something DIFFERENT, they could in fact tackle an action movie.  Rogen the actor could have proven that he could have handled a more serious type of material.  I’m not saying that “The Green Hornet” should be po-faced, but it was never supposed to be a knock-about buddy comedy!

The studio will tell you that worldwide takings amounted to double the original budget, so they’re happy with the result.  However, make no mistake that audiences will be once-stung twice-shy with this franchise. “The Green Hornet” is not a gurgling buffoon, he’s a man on a mission.  Any sequel must be as different as what was achieved in the Star Trek universe between “The Motion Picture” and “The Wrath of Khan”.

Keep Chou. Move Rogen on to other projects - he’s demonstrated he can’t cut it in this genre. And somehow undo the travesty of representing D.A. Frank Scanlon (David Harbour) as a villain. While not quite as much of a franchise blasphemy as that of making Jim Phelps a villain in the first Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” movie, for Hornet fans soiling Scanlon’s reputation is on a par.

Words should also be said about the casting of Edward James Olmos as reporter and editor Mike Axford. Much like Diaz, Olmos had little to work with, but clearly acts as if he wanted to be somewhere else. Axford is a central character in the Green Hornet universe, and always came across as dedicated and enthusiastic – Olmos plays him like some dour life-threatened doorstep tradesman. Let’s hope he has other commitments if there’s a sequel.

Exclusively available on the 3D Blu-ray are 3D Animated Storyboard Comparisons.  The storyboard is a crucial stage in planning the shots of an intricate action scene.  This feature presents the original storyboards for a scene in direct comparison to the final film.  The storyboards have been brought to life with animated movement and rendered in 3D to take advantage of today’s state-of-the-art home viewing systems.

Other special features on the various discs are as follows:

On all format discs:

  • “Awesoom” –Gag Reel
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • “Writing The Green Hornet” featurette
  • “The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool” featurette

Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D discs only:

  •  “The Green Hornet Cutting Room”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • “Trust Me” –Director Michel Gondry featurette
  •  “The Stunt Family Armstrong” featurette
  • “Finding Kato” featurette
  • The Art of Destruction featurette
  • movieIQ
  • Jay Chou Audition (Easter Egg)
  • Double Barrel (Easter Egg)

Blu-ray 3D discs only:

  • 3D Animated Storyboard Comparisons

 

"The Green Hornet" is out now, with a running time of 119 minutes approx, a ‘12’ certificate, and a RRPs of at £29.99 (Blu-ray 3D), £24.99 (Blu-ray) and £19.99 (DVD), or get any of the formats for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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