Seth Rogen can play the Green Hornet. This isn’t a character who needs the physique of a Batman or the agility of an Iron Man. He doesn’t even need to be graceful, just funny. And he is. A lot.
The film knows not many people will be taking it seriously, the whole kooky, campy aspect played up in a priceless brawl as super hero and sidekick begin battling it out in their home/lair. Jay Chou kicks and punches with the best of them, each hit given the added flair needed thanks to direction from Michel Gondry. All of the effect tricks are pleasing and original, separating the ever reaching super hero genre from itself. You could even call it classy, assuming that word ever applies to mainstream Hollywood productions like this.
Columbia didn’t seem to have any issue tossing gobs of cash at this one, those generous finances funding increasingly stupid car chases through buildings. Green Hornet loves smashing stuff as much as audiences love watching things being smashed. It has little regard for any sense of realism, physics, or logic, and why should it?
There’s never a sense that the film is taking place in any plane of reality, one of the opening scenes a key dialogue exchange between and overacting Edward Furlong and Christoph Waltz. Here the tone is in place, this following a seemingly dramatic bit of fathering on the part of Tom Wilkinson. It’s imperative, the sequence a showdown between criminals with ambition, both with a plan, and neither willing to work with the other. Gondry lets Waltz tear up the screen with a passe, calm, and then aggressive performance that sells his role as lead villain.
Green Hornet is written with wit and flair, casually fitting in expletives as a mere enhancer or frustration inducer, skirting that PG-13 line. Co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are in place here to follow the trends of modern comedy, reaching for the low-brow and aiming for quick wit with a side dish of witty comebacks. It keeps Green Hornet energetic between action scenes, and the interest in the material consistently fresh.
Oh, and this is a movie where they drive only the front half of a car for most of the finale. The back end gets sliced off in an elevator, so maybe you should taper your expectations based on that.
Green Hornet was captured on a variety of sources, from a clean looking film stock to two different digital cameras, the Red One and the Phantom HD. Digital was almost certainly employed for the slow motion fighting, the effect never jarring or out of place. In fact, it’s fairly consistent across the board, Sony’s AVC encode suffering from a minimalist layer of video quirks.
The compression itself is fine, the film situated with so many explosions, fast-moving fight scenes, and thousands of pounds of debris swirling about, that’s no small feat. Grain, when typically present, is resolved cleanly. Digital noise, while a minor factor, does intrude on the image’s overall clarity, although the intrusion is small.
Thankfully, the digital intermediate doesn’t tint this whole thing green, although surely the temptation was there to overuse it. Instead, flesh tones are flushed with oranges, and bright, saturated primaries are given quite a push. What greens are present (there had to be some, let’s face it) remain as aggressive as any other hue. Black levels are exquisite, occasionally biting a little too deep to take a chunk of shadow detail. It’s rarely something to be concerned with.
Objects feature firm definition aside from the mild aliasing on cars or other objects requiring fine lines. Like the image noise, this is a scarce issue, at its worst inside the garage not long after Kato (Chou) is re-hired by Britt (Rogen). You’ll find the occasional halo wandering around too. Facial detail is here and there, Gondry shooting from afar typically, rarely pushing the camera into the actor’s faces. The end result is middling definition, the finest of textures rarely evident. When they are though, the pleasing effect is natural and clean, giving the image quality a bit of a kick where it needs it. However, it tends to need it more often than not.
Enhancing the piece is a sharp layer of 3D effects, this a film that celebrates shattering glass, sparks, and ammo shells. Within the action scenes, something is always popping out to layer the battles. Despite the action being especially dark, rarely is the sense of depth lost. The car interior has plenty of gadgets, switches, and panels to take in, each with a bit of dimensional zip. The best stuff is probably Kano’s vision, which zooms in on specific dangerous objects as he fights, a red outline highlighting the object/person. It starts in the front of the vision then pushes away with great effect.
Non-action is adequate, producing clean 3D that despite being primed for cross talk with contrasting images, manages to avoid the problem. Actors look sharp and natural within the 3D frame, and backgrounds carry their own pop. Photography favors objects in the foreground such as trees, drapes, or other items to keep the frame lively.
As a straightforward action piece, this generous DTS-HD track is booming and forceful. You will believe that you have sat through a car smashing through a wall. The bass is that powerful, deep, and tight. Missiles fire off and impact their target with enough force to send your sub into retirement, and before it hit, the other channels pick up the directional slack.
This is a kitchen sink mix, providing a little of everything. Music from a variety of sources offers not only fidelity, but pure balance between the elements. It’s required to handle more shoot-outs than the notes taken during the viewing could handle, and even the more subtle action is superb. The house scuffle at 1:11:00 is filled with objects panning around and to the side, maybe even too much so as some effects seep into the rears without needing to do so (listen to the Foosball players rattling).
Minor annoyances aside (and those are minor to the extreme), every action sequence delivers as a demo piece. There’s enough stuff panning around through the stereos and the rears to make each one viable. Dialogue is inserted naturally, and the score takes a typical backseat to the endless barrage of gunfire… or explosions… or cars passing by… or debris fields… or whatever else. Fun stuff.
Extras begin with a commentary from actor/writer Seth Rogen, co-writer Evan Goldberg, director Michel Gondry, and producer Neal Moritz. The Green Hornet Cutting Room lets you play around with movie clips, editing them as you wish. Nine deleted scenes come in just under a half hour, a few of them nicely fitting into the narrative arc if obviously slowing the pace. A funny seven minute gag reel is followed by Trust Me, a featurette focused on the odd choice of director, and why he wanted the project.
The whole disc becomes a host to featurettes at this point, beginning with Writing Green Hornet (duh), followed by The Black Beauty (about the car), The Stunt Family Armstrong (detailing a longtime prolific stunt family spanning multiple generations), Finding Kato (Jay Chou’s international stardom and eventual casting), finishing with The Art of Destruction (detailing all of the sets that were destroyed). You can have a couple of trailers too if you want.