"The Green Hornet" Blu-ray Review
April 29, 2011 by Zach Demeter
A Green Hornet film was in development hell for years, possibly decades (I didn’t follow it that far back), before a studio finally got serious about making a film. Sony finally got the ball rolling when a serviceable script was introduced and…it was co-written by and starring Seth Rogen. Mind you the immediate reaction of all (myself included in that “all”) was “how is he going to play a superhero?” Rogen slimmed down significantly for the role and while he wasn’t showing off any sculpted abs, he didn’t look like a slobby slouch that you could write off as someone who couldn’t get a few good punches in. While the film failed to impress just about everyone, it’s overall ticket sales were bolstered by the overseas intake which pushed the $120 million dollar film to over $220 in tickets—not bad for a film that ranks rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a slacker by day, party animal by night... until he finds a serious career that’s seriously cool: crime-fighting action hero. As the Green Hornet, he teams up with gadget wiz and martial arts master Kato (Jay Chou) to take down LA's underworld. Even Britt’s assistant Lenore (Cameron Diaz) doesn't suspect this mismatched pair is the masked duo busting the city's toughest thugs led by Chudnofsky (Academy Award® winner Christoph Waltz, 2010, Supporting Actor, Inglourious Basterds). With style, swagger and an arsenal of awesome gear, the Green Hornet and Kato are doing justice their way, making every mission a mix of over-the-top action and outrageous comedy.
I think there is a key element that goes into watching this film: you have to believe that it is going to suck so incredibly bad, that when it doesn’t you are taken aback in such a fashion that you actually enjoy the film. That’s what happened with me and while I’ll probably start out by singing the films praises in this review at first, I will likely end up trashing it so thoroughly that I can’t wait to throw out the disc when I get home. Wherever we end up in a four or five paragraphs remains to be seen, but I will start out by saying that I really enjoyed this film and I think its carefree attitude is what made it so easily enjoyable.
The immediate thought when it came to this film starring Rogen was that it was going to be some kind of stoner comedy. While it does feature Rogen pal James Franco in it very briefly, that’s about the last of our stoner comedy memories that we get. Rogen plays it straight in this film and while he’s obviously someone who tries to be a ladies man, the film really doesn’t portray him to be the all-out jerk you expect it to. In stark contrast, Rogen’s sense of nobility is kind of impressive here and really just sets you up for something that you’re not expecting. It’s easy to look at this film as a comedy, but it’s more than that. Well not much more than that since it’s pretty much a straight up action-comedy, but the film has a bit of heart to it amidst the seeming randomness of the story itself.
Perhaps the films biggest flaw is the sense of randominity. You get the impression that Britt Reid gets his idea for becoming the Green Hornet from his father, but the way it’s played here he just comes up with it because...well, he probably read too many comic books. I don’t know anything about the history of the Green Hornet franchise but the story we get here does just seem very, very random in its presentation. Characters get thrown in an almost haphazard way and the whole thing feels like it may have been better served as a TV show (shocking!); still, even though the film encroaches on the two hour mark I never felt myself looking at the clock until the end when I wondered how they were going to wrap it up without it feeling too abrupt. They managed to pull it off though and while I’m sure the film could have any number of improvements made to it so that it flowed better, the story is still just entertaining to watch nonetheless.
For me the humor is just what sold me on the film. While not all of the jokes were funny, a lot of them were executed brilliantly. Some of the humor was childish and they dropped the s-bomb in this movie more times than I can count, but it really just worked. I really enjoyed almost everything about this film, from the characters, to the humor, to the action…I don’t know what it is, perhaps I was just in the mood to watch it but this was a very simple and very enjoyable action/comedy outing. The only downside to the film was the sometimes wonky special effects—Kato’s slowdown of time was really odd and Britt’s random ability to tap into that towards the end was strange as well, but I guess you kind of just have to roll with it in the end.
Another thing that needs highlighting is Kato and Britt’s relationship because it really is the focal point of the film. From the start their interaction is flat out hilarious and even when they go through their predictable “tiff” over who’s the leader of the Green Hornet initiative or who gets to go out with Lenore (Cameron Diaz) you can’t help but enjoy their quarrel. Hell, that whole fight between Britt and Kato really sold me on the idea that Rogen could actually fight—he took way more punches, granted, but he defended himself in a really believable way. Its little elements like that that help add to the believability of such a ridiculous scenario happening.
There is also the supporting cast, though it really just all comes down to Christopher Waltz who plays the villain beautifully—thank the maker Nic Cage didn’t show up in that role. Really the film is a bit kooky and you could say it’s moderately camp but it’s played straight so it never comes off as being silly just for the sake of being silly. I’ve undoubtedly seen better films from the action/comedy genre in the past, but as far as buddy cop/superhero type setups go The Green Hornet is really just a fun way to kill a couple hours. Recommended
The Green Hornet finds a home in a standard single disc Elite Blu-ray case—and that’s it, really. Unless you trade up to this fancy-as-hell three-disc edition, in which case this film will really stand out on your shelf. There are two varieties of this release for some reason; one with just the Blu-ray and one with a Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D/DVD combo pack. Not sure why they have two different versions, but there you have it. This super deluxe version has the three individual discs housed in a clear plastic, PS3 style case that kind of has a 3-D element going for it just on the packaging alone. The Black Beauty is prominently displayed on the front and the backdrop is actually an insider inside the case, so in a sense it looks like the Black Beauty is driving out at you. A cool little visual bonus—wasn’t expecting that at all based on the cover art they showed online! Menu’s are simple and easy to navigate and look great for a film such as this.
Moving onto the AVC encoded 1080p 2.40:1 transfer we get the usual flawless presentation out of Sony. The majority of the film oozes detail out of all of the frames, boasting plenty of detail in the myriad of sequences that range from daylight to nighttime in the city. I was really quite surprised by the amount of daylight sequences in this film; whether its Britt’s arrival home to find his father dead or the daytime meeting in a dirt pit, the film definitely had some surprising locations. The newspaper was a great place to have a shoot out too, with all the robotic reams of paper and the printing press. On top of that we have plenty of detail on character faces and the like, although there does seem to be a bit of a coloring issue at times—in particular the rooftop sequence with Waltz’s character and one of his henchmen. Their faces looked really, really orange at times—not sure if it was some neon sign doing it or what, but it varied from shot to shot. Unfortunately I have no 3D capable TV, so I can only comment on the beauty of the standard Blu-ray—but it is beautiful. Just about as beautiful as The Black Beauty itself.
The audio matches the visual presentation with great precision. I’m not sure I’ve heard a more lively presentation in ages, because this track was all over the place. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix spread the love across all the channels and it wasn’t just something that happened once or twice—every major action scene was spread all around the room and the shoot out in the office floor was just all over the place. I really think the audio mix had a huge part in my enjoyment of this film—if I had to listen to it quietly I doubt I would’ve had a dumb smile plastered on my face as much as I did.
• PS3 Theme
• Jay Chou Audition
• Double Barrel
• 3D Animated Storyboard Comparisons
• The Green Hornet Cutting Room
• Filmmakers' Commentary
• "Awesoom"-Gag Reel
• "Trust Me" -Director Michel Gondry
• Writing The Green Hornet
• The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool
• The Stunt Family Armstrong
• Finding Kato
• The Art of Destruction
All total there are an hours worth of features and deleted scenes, but the major highlight here is the commentary track with Seth Rogen, producer Neal Moritz, director Michael Gondry, and writer Evan Goldberg that is equal parts informative and funny. There’s a whole lot to like about this track and perhaps it was because I enjoyed the film so much the first time, but just hearing these guys talk about it was a ton of fun as well. Combine it with the other featurettes and such and this is a solid little disc for extras.
Overall The Green Hornet isn’t a perfect film but damn if it wasn’t a lot of fun to watch. The Blu-ray makes it even better with an absolutely killer A/V presentation. I doubt we’ll see a sequel to this film anytime soon, but the unorthodox ending definitely made for the possibility should the team re-assemble for (what will hopefully be a more cohesive) a sequel. Highly Recommended.
The Green Hornet arrives on Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD, Blu-ray, and DVD on May 3rd.