The Green Hornet Review

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Craig Grobler 3 Comments

The Green HornetRide with Britt Reid as he races toward another thrilling adventure! The Green Hornet strikes again!

I was lucky enough to catch a screening of The Green Hornet yesterday and enjoyed it immensely.

Before I start there are some things you should probably know about The Green Hornet:

  1. Despite the misguided fan boy moans about the obvious similarities between the two characters. The Green Hornet is not a rip-off of Batman. The Green Hornet made its debut on radio in 1936, Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics in 1939.

  2. Surprisingly it’s not mentioned a lot (and certainly not in the new film) but Britt Reid, wealthy publisher of The Daily Sentinel (and The Green Hornet’s alter identity) is a direct relation of the original lone crusader (& sidekick) The Lone Ranger (sometimes known as John Reid). In fact, the Reid’s family fortune was started by the same silver mine that was used to make the Lone Ranger’s trademark silver bullets. Both The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet were developed by Fran Striker (writer) and George Trendle.

  3. As a nod to the massive cultural influence The Green Hornet has - you are probably already familiar with The Green Hornet’s theme; Al Hirt’s unforgettable trumpet variation of Flight of the Bumblebee" was used by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill and can be heard when Uma Thurman's The Bride rides her Kawasaki ZZR250 through Tokyo. Tarantino also gave a nod to Kato, The Crazy 88 crew wear the same outfit that Kato wears.

  4. The Green Hornet started off as a radio serial back in the 30s detailing the adventures of "Britt Reid, debonair newspaper publisher by day, crime-fighting masked hero at night", along with his trusty sidekick, Kato. The radio series ran intermittently till 1952.

    On the back of The Lone Ranger’s popularity over 1940/1 two Green Hornet films were made. Around this time the first Green Hornet comic was published, and although the comic may have switched publishers it’s been running on & off since. Between 1966-67 the single season of The Green Hornet TV show was shown.

The Green HornetWhich is where my interest in The Green Hornet started. Not in 66/67 obviously - but that was the TV show that featured Bruce Lee as Kato “the sidekick”. Inverted commas because everyone knows that Bruce Lee was the man. In the eyes of a young boy seemingly here was a guy who could actually back up all his on screen exploits with real physical skill.

In Hong Kong The Green Hornet TV show was actually known as The Kato Show. Capitalising on Bruce Lee’s ongoing appeal in 1974 a film edited together from the TV show was released with only Bruce Lee being billed.

Yet despite its pedigree The Green Hornet has never really hit the mainstream the way other hero franchises have. Mainly because it’s previous, and most well known incantation the TV show was perceived as too mature for children but too childish for adults as well as a little too similar to the more popular Batman. So it kind of languished in limbo apart from die hard fans.

Although, some filmmakers saw this as an opportunity – a super hero story with all the traditional elements, but out of the mainstream enough to not have all the baggage of more well known tales. With the mainstream rise in popularity of the super hero this might be the right time to adapt. However on the flip side of the coin. With the rise in popularity of super hero films, the game has become a lot harder, audiences are looking for fresh originality and with so many heroes and story arcs out there, how do you still be original?

I can’t lie I am excited about the new big screen adaptation of The Green Hornet, but tried hard (up until minutes before the screening) not to let my enthusiasm get the better of me. I had enjoyed the trailers and early footage I had seen, but given the recent spoiler’sh media a miss. And despite the fact that Michel Gondry is fiercely original and makes unique films I am only too well to aware of raised expectations killing a film especially with the super hero genre being so hit or miss.

You can skip the below I only added it as a point of interest; Since the 1990s there have been rumours as well as fact about who would be involved in bringing the tale of The Green Hornet to screen, these have included;
Chuck Pfarrer had written a screenplay, Rich Wilkes rewrote the screenplay, George Clooney and Jason Scott Lee were to star as Green Hornet and Kato, then Greg Kinnear was to be The Green Hornet, Michel Gondry was too direct, Mark Wahlberg to star, Jet Li was to play Kato, Edward Neumeier to write it, then John Fusco maybe wrote a story, Christopher McQuarrie was writing it, then Kevin Smith was too direct and bring The Green Hornet to life. Jake Gyllenhall to star. In 2008 Sony announced that Seth Rogen would star and co-write with Evan Goldberg. Stephen Chow would direct, in 2009 Sony announced that Michel Gondry was directing and Stephen Chow was now Kato, then Jay Chou was Kato, Nicholas Cage was the villain, Cameron Diaz was onboard as the lead female, then Christoph Waltz was the villain.
Thankfully the merry go round stopped and we ended up with what I consider a pretty damn fine team given the results.

Director Michel Gondry and Co-writer Seth Rogen’s The Green Hornet follows the mythology of the original Green Hornet closely. After the death of his father party/playboy Britt Reid inherits his father’s empire including becoming the head of The Daily Sentinel. Teaming up with Kato they become the cool car, gadget armed masked crime fighting duo protecting the city from the tide of crime. But where the Green Hornet differs from other super hero tales is that – the duo are perceived as criminals themselves.

In the incredibly engaging establishingshot scene we are introduced to the outstanding Christoph Waltz’s Choad, Chudder, Chud Chudnofsky, the villain of the piece and through his hilarious discussion with a potential rival (awesome cameo alert). We begin to understand the world of The Green Hornet. Think more Iron Man than Batman. Pretty soon I’m swept away on an outrageous roller coaster ride and I’m loving every second of it. If I’m not laughing out loud at Seth Rogen mostly hit 30 gag a second dialogue and set ups I’m giggling to myself at the in side references to the earlier Green Hornet mythology without reducing it to a joke fodder.

The first half of the film is outstanding a near perfect off the wall blend of engaging story unrolling, compelling interesting characters and perfect, perfect, perfect visuals. His trademark surrealism delivering a pop up book to some of the 3D. So perfect in fact that I believe Michel Gondry has set the standard for “real world” 3D moving forward, each frame is planned for maximum effect. This is the most precise use of 3D in "real world" settings I have seen yet. The visuals alone are worth the ticket price.

The other standing factor of The Green Hornet is the chemistry between Seth Rogen and Jay Chou its spot on –the play between the super wealthy but idiotic playboy with a new found sense of justice against Kato’s focussed and incredibly skilled sidekick is brilliant. Seth Rogen may get all the lines, but Jay Chou as Kato steals the show with his coolness.

The Green Hornet
Christoph Waltz as the old time gangster in need of updating to more modern sensibilities is a pleasure to watch. I’m by no means a Cameron Diaz fan but I don’t think she is given the chance to act, although her role is pivotal and starts out well she’s quickly reduced to a prop to support bits of the story.

The Green HornetWhich brings me to the not so good. I saw The Green Hornet 3D on a fairly small screen, the same screen, projection unit and rumbling sound system that I occasionally raise up on a pedestal as being phenomenal. This was however the first time I had seen a 3D film on this set up. Unfortunately and after some research I have discovered that some of the fast moving action, especially in darker scenes become flashes of movement that I can’t really decipher. I guess it may have something to do with so much concentrated data being presented on a small area. Please note although I have heard similar reports but this is merely my observation. The outcome of this effect though, is that my eyes and processing power get tired very quickly. Affecting my viewing pleasure and possibly contributing to the second half of the film coming across as little flat despite the much higher levels of action, guns, bullets and explosions. During the second half the story jumps more to the traditional Super Hero form and becomes a little more predictable especially towards the climax. For reference and too frame this thought - this is exactly how I felt while watching Iron Man for the first time. So I guess if you liked Iron Man you’ll love The Green Hornet.

Overall I enjoyed The Green Hornet immensely but it’s not perfect. The second half dragging the outstanding first half down a bit. The characterisation is great. The 3D - is the best I have seen yet, in a real world setting. Michel Gondry’s title of creative genius is completely justified. I’m not a fan of the current trend of Hollywood self parody, particularly in the super hero genre (that has been parodied to death), but The Green Hornet pulls it off well.

The Green Hornet Review
The Green Hornet will be on the UK big screen this Friday 14 January, 2011

Director: Michel Gondry.
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz

More info:
Over at the Sony Green Hornet website


  1. The Green Hornet is a disjointed jumble of gag laughs, goofy stunts, and bizzare casting. Seth Rogen should not be in this movie as a main character, for one he plays on only comedy's why would he be good in a action movie idk who the director is but he needs to be changed.

  2. The Green Hornet is a disjointed jumble of gag laughs, goofy stunts, and bizzare casting. Seth Rogen should not be in this movie as a main character, for one he plays on only comedy's why would he be good in a action movie idk who the director is but he needs to be changed.

  3. Hey, thanks for taking the time to read my review as well as post a comment. Sorry you didn't enjoy it. I've read reviews praising The Green Hornet as The comedy/action film of 2011 as well as some that didn't rate it. So a typical film really - with some loving it and some hating it. Stay well.