Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Green Hornet

It isn't out yet and I'm not sure that I will go to see it when it premiers so I might as well write about the Green Hornet now.

I've seen the trailers and the Mythbusters episode (they busted the stunts). It doesn't look good.

Then there is the release date - January is when studios dump movies. It is an off month for theater-going. Christmas is over, the kids are back in school, and a lot of the country has cold and snow. They have to have something new for the theaters so they release the movies that they are sure would do poorly, anyway. The movies that do well in January were already in the theaters before New Years. So, a mid-January release means that the studio thinks that the movie is a stinker.

There have been rumors of a funny take on a super hero movie for years. At one point Green Lantern was going to star Jack Black. I remember rumors of a funny Aquaman movie, also. This is the first one to actually make it to the screen.

From interviews with Seth Rogen, this movie was sort of inspired by the 1960s TV series. That was done by the same producers as Batman but they played it straight with the Green Hornet. There were still a few fancy weapons like the Hornet's Sting that could open locks but the plots and the villains were all toned down from Batman. Even the hero's "costume" mainly consisted of a black suit and overcoat with a fancy mask. It only lasted one season. The source material for the show was a radio show that is only spoken of in terms of the TV show.

A cable channel was showing reruns of the TV show a couple of years ago. It was more boring than I remembered it. Unlike Batman, the Green Hornet never became a cult classic. It was simply canceled and forgotten.

So, there is not much sacred territory. Besides the connection with the Batman TV show, the only other memorable thing about the Green Hornet was the actor who played his sidekick, Kato - Bruce Lee. In fact, Lee did actual side-kicks and other martial arts. Each show's climactic fight had the Green Hornet fighting the head bad guy while Kato knocked off the rest of the gang.

What's the point? I guess it is to make an "everyman hero". From the trailers, it looks like Kato is the real hero and the Green Hornet is just along for the ride for some reason - maybe because he is paying the bills.

To be fair, the Tim Burton Batman looked bad at first glance. Bruce Wayne was played by Michael Keaton, a guy known for playing Beetlejuice and Mr. Mom. Burton himself was mainly known for Pee Wee Herman and Beetlejuice. Batman worked because they played against type - they played it straight. Plus, Jack Nicholson chewed up the set in one of his best roles.

There is no Nicholson to save the Green Hornet. Rogen is the biggest-name star in the movie. Is was also one of the writers. That doesn't offer much hope of a watchable movie.

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