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Knight of the Empty Spaces
scott_wells
.::.::.:. ::: .:..:.:::


Current Thought
Magic is the art of the impossible made ordinary, the commonplace seen through the eye of its Creator, and The sound of a cloud in the sky.

Nothing is mundane.

Give up all your assumptions, preconceptions, knowledge, dreams and logic. Sink completely into love. Drown yourself in it. Become a part of the wave that stirs from creation of the Universe.

That's when you'll understand magic... and when you'll no longer need it.

September 2013
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Knight of the Empty Spaces [userpic]
The Green Hornet... a review and thoughts.


Has it really been that long since I update? Eeks.

So, anyway... We went to see The Green Hornet  (in 3D) last night. It was the first 3D movie I've seen since the new technology came out. I know people having been buzzing about it for ages, but thats how it is... sue me. the 3D was impressive, of course, but it loses something in scenes with a short range of focus. Close-ups or even midrange depth of field become rather bland.

Moving on to the movie itself...

The Green Hornet has been around a *very* long time.  He was created in 1936 for radio by the legendary Fran Striker, who also created the Lone Ranger. The Green Hornet's alter ego, Britt Reid, was actually meant to be the descendant of the Lone Ranger. Britt Reid was the millionare newspaper owner of The Daily Sentinel, which he used as a platform to expose the corruption and crime of the city. However, he frequently donned the mask of The Green Hornet and posed as a dangerous criminal in order to get close to the criminals he intended to bring down. He was aided by his partner\chauffeur\valet Kato, who was the muscle behind The Green Hornet. They would go into their conflicts in their carefully modified car 'The Black Beauty'... later described as their 'rolling arsenal'.

The character proved to have tremendous appeal and staying power. The successful radio show gave way to movie serials, comic books, and a short-lived TV series in the 1960s (done by the same people who did Batman, and aside from one crossover with that series, it largely maintained a slightly more serious tone.)

The feature film has been languishing in production hell forever. Since the 1990s, in fact. Names such as George Clooney, Kevin Smith, and Jet Li have all been attached to it at one time or another, and the property passed from studio to studio, until finally it was finally made by Seth Rogan and Michael Gondry. The result.... mixed.

The film had a lot of potential to it, and you can see it when you watch it. There are moments when the movie is fantastically entertaining, energetic, and fun. And then there are the other parts... to say that the movie was poorly paced would be an understatement. I don't believe Gondry has the experience yet to direct an action film, at this point in his career... he might one day be decent at it. The movie drags to get started, and is full of unnecessary scenes.  When it does finally pick up, the action becomes fast and furious, and entertainingly implausible.

Bad pacing however, does not necessarily condemn a movie to being bad itself. The character and the idea behind the character are appealing on its own. Jay Chou is perfectly acceptable as Kato, Cameron Diaz is charming as Lenore Case, Edward James Olmos is inspired and believable as Mike Axford, and Christoph Waltz is hilariously over-the-top as insane crime lord Chudnofsky (Who is desperately trying to update and revamp his image as a 'scary guy' throughout the movie.)

The Special effects are spectacular, as are the stunts. Anyone who comes out of this movie and DOESN'T want to own the Black Beauty is  clearly lacking any sense of fun or adventure. And there were some classic Green Hornet moments... 

So what's the problem?

Seth Rogan.

 As a character, Britt Reid was always a hard-edged newspaper man, with a lot of money and a touch of the playboy about him. But his mind was sharply deductive, and he had a keen sense of right and wrong, of justice. He was bright and sophisticated. He wasn't the greatest hand to hand fighter, but he was competent enough to hold his own.

Rogan's Britt Reid is petty, self-centered,  rude, incompetant at everything, flippant, sexist, and just about completely unlikeable. He's played for comedy alone... in short, he plays the same sort of 'underachiever doofus' that he always does. His presence, and his characterization strike a jarringly discordant note in the movie. Scenes will begin and seem promising, and then Rogan will open his mouth and it wll all come screeching to a halt. He lacks the sort of presence that a character like The Green Hornet needs. The Green Hornet scared the crap out of people when he walked into a room... if he needed anything beyond an intimidating presence, Kato took care of that. Rogan's version slouches about, looking more like a dumpy homeless guy than either a vigilante superhero or criminal kingpin. He has all the intimidating power of Lou Costello.

I understand the joke... that Kato is the competent part of the duo. He's the designer of the the Black Beauty, and all the Hornet's weapons and gadgets. He's the martial arts expert that kicks you in the face before you realize he's moved, and who can take out entire rooms of people using nothing but his thumbs. But the joke wears thin quickly... as does the running joke in this version about the ambiguously romantic nature of the Hornet/Kato relationship. 

Rogan's Hornet never rises to be the hero he's supposed to be. There are moment's which imply he's capable of it... which are then undermined by cheap laughs used to point out just how helpless he actually is. There are two moments in the film where he is given the chance to shine, just for a moment... and instead, they are used as elaborate setups to deliver the same tired punchline. 

The other characters suffer less demeaning treatments. Frank Scanlon, the District Attorney that aided the Green Hornet in the TV series as one of his few confidants, is predictably turned into another corrupt official. Lenore Case, typically seen as just the secretary/love interest for the Reid/The Hornet is here portrayed as an intelligent and supremely confident secretary and researcher... though she is given little to do except look uncomfortable at the awkward romantic attentions of both Reid and Kato. Her sudden inclusion into the confidence of Reid and Kato at the end of the movie seems abrupt and tacked on. Mike Axford is also given little to do... he is the gruff and serious editor of the Daily Sentinel ans the wise, sane voice in Reids ear. 

Stealing the show on many levels is Christoph Waltz as the insecure crime lord Chudnofsky...  a man so concerned with being seen as old-fashioned  that he tries all manner of outlandish craziness to make himself seem 'cool'... Its impossible not to laugh as he quizzes his victims about what they find wrong about his image. His signature weapon is as silly as he is, and seems mirror perfectly his insecurity and lack of imagination... its a twin-barreled automatic pistol. 

Also stealing the show is The Black Beauty, which rightfully takes its place as the third member of the crimefighting team. The car in the movie is the exact same model that was featured in the TV series, but showcased much more. At every turn, in every scene, the Black Beauty offers up a new surprise. Gatling guns, flame throwers, missile launchers, beanbag guns, strobing headlights.... even a record player. And thats the short list of the things it can do. 

The final showdown of the movie is frenetic... it doesn't slow down for a second. Its completely entertaining in a shoot-em-up, blow-em-up kind of way. Clearly, Michael Gondry has no sense of the term 'overkill'. And this works, in a way. There is a point went violence reaches its saturation point and it no longer becomes offensive. The sort of bloodless savagery turns into a cartoon, gang violence becomes nothing more than live-action Looney Tunes. And it works... the Green Hornet was never one to shed any tears over a criminal who was accidentally killed, but he wouldn't do it himself. This seems to be consistent here. However, while other incarnations of the Hornet might have considered such death's solemnly, Rogan's version is flippant about it if he considers it at all. 

So, in all, the movie is a perfectly fun movie, with a horribly, horribly miscast lead. This mistake is so pronounced, that I think its cost the film the potential for kicking off a successful franchise. Its not unwatchable for much of the time. Green Hornet fans will appreciate the nods to past incarnations (the costumes worn by Britt and Kato on their first outing are the mirrors of the original depictions, for example). Its not a complete waste of time, but save it for a matinee.  

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Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
Comments

I was worried about him too when I first heard it. And I now feel perfectly justified in that fear.

This has been a busy year for me. The summer and fall months were taken up with a LOT of ghost-hunting. Especially the fall, which included a lot of special appearances. A couple more episodes of the TV Show were shot.... I've not bothered to watch them though.

The rest of the time has been madness at work... we've been upgrading pretty much everything. We've eliminated Novell in our environment, and upgraded everything to Windows 7. Its been absurdly stressful...

How have you been?

Damn, sounds crazy. I've been moving house for the last month, it feels like. Otherwise it's been mainly classes and that's about all. I'm going to work at the on-campus book shop before classes start again, and hopefully be able to save a bit of cash. Same old, really.

I hope things calm down for you soon!