Movie: 2 stars
Picture: 4 stars
Sound: 4 stars
Extras: 3 stars
File this one under Wasted Potential. The Green Hornet does have plenty of visual style, courtesy of director Michel Gondry. It also has the likable Seth Rogen as the title character, the awesome Christoph Waltz (Oscar winner for Inglourious Basterds) as the bad guy, and Cameron Diaz as the brainy eye candy. It even has one or two legitimately funny set pieces — not to mention a nice pedigree from old-school radio and TV.
What it doesn’t have is anything resembling a compelling story — said story being co-written by Rogen. The movie also lacks any chemistry whatsoever between the star and anybody else in the cast. That includes the sidekick, Kato, who’s played in wooden fashion by Taiwanese teen idol Jay Chou, taking on the Bruce Lee role from the TV series. Lee had the kind of onscreen charisma that comes around once in a generation. Chou most assuredly does not, but I bet the folks in Sony’s international marketing department were mighty happy to have him aboard.
Meanwhile, the words “Seth Rogen” and “badass” don’t work together any better on the theatrical screen than they do right here on your computer screen. Of course, that’s partly the point, because in this film, the character of the Green Hornet is a bumbling Maxwell Smart type of unlikely hero. For many scenes, however, he’s required to overcome his ineptitude and actually look like he could beat a villain senseless, or at least out-think him in crunch time. Neither of those things is happening here with even an iota of disbelief-suspending street cred. And if Rogen and Gondry were going for '60s-era TV camp á la Batman and other shows of the period, they miss that target by, oh, 10,000 miles or so.
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