Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

The Green Hornet

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Green Hornet

Captured in the Battle: Los Angeles game. Apt, no?

Dir. Michel Gondry

Theatrical in amazing 2-D.

I had been sitting on this for almost two months now when I found out The Green Hornet had been shoehorned into the shoddy Battle: Los Angeles game alongside generic ads for the Ericson. That’s rather unfortunate because Michel Gondry’s exploration of slacker heroism deserves more than to be the camping point for an alien that vaguely looks like a skinless Mayor McCheese.

Hornet follows Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), the party-hardy son of media mogul James (Tom Wilkinson, for all of seven minutes), as he has to grow up and deal with shit as only a man-child can: by playing dress-up and flexing his plastic muscles. And yet, Green Hornet is literally nothing without his Kato; here, Jay Chou gives the first of two standout performances as Britt’s wingman/mechanic/”Alfred.” There’s never any doubt that without Kato, Britt would be dead or drunk in less than a second. But still, Gondry plays with us the same way the original radio serials had to for a mainstream audience that needs an instigator, even if he is a layabout drunk who wants nothing more than to get even with his father.

It’s that motivation that gets Kato from designing unique coffee presses to multiple versions of The Black Beauty and gas guns. Of course, any decent hero needs the villain to match. It’s weirdly fitting we get Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) paired against James Franco to learn about the world that The Green Hornet wills himself into: crime is organized under an aging, unsure gangster who can’t fathom why the “old ways” are over. The charm of Waltz is watching him agonize over being a “Disco Santa Claus” while always confident he’s going to kill the new guy. Even his turn into Bloodnofsky, complete with blood-red cape and catch phrase, is appropriate for what Britt sees as proper heroism.

Gondry’s Hornet takes the escalation notions that Christopher Nolan played with in his Batman films to an absurd secondary level that seem immediately in place with Matthew Vaughn’s final scene in his Kick-Ass adaptation. Stranger still: since the Hornet is a “villain,” per se, he is in fact setting the bar for all future encounters. This is kind of funny if you think about the radio serial origin, where characters remained hard boiled and simplistic without need of ever dawning a cowl or cape because it’d look silly. The Golden Age concept of heroism is funny for that reason: a character like The Sandman makes perfect sense, but a Superman leaping buildings? Insane.

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Written by john lichman

March 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm

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