I'm starting to wonder where it all went wrong for Michel Gondry. Cast yourselves back to 2004, he was the coolest commercial and music video director about, and he just released the absolutely marvellous and nearly unrivalled Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - one of my favourite films of all time. Then regrettably and inexplicably he's steadily got more unimaginative and uninspiring as his films have progressed, though Science of Sleep was hardly terrible, when compared to his previous effort it all felt a bit too samey, while lacking even less cohesion. Be Kind Rewind promised so much on paper but failed to deliver on the quirky trailers, resulting in something that was, well, boring.
Unfortunately for the French born director, his latest film, The Green Hornet takes his prolonged spat of banality to new heights. Loosely based on the classic pulp superhero of the same name, the film tells the tale of, obnoxious, newspaper editor, Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) as he decides, essentially out of spite, towards his father (Tom Wilkinson), to become the masked vigilante, The Green Hornet with the help of his associate, Kato (Jay Chou).
The film was a gamble that ultimately failed for both star and director. Though I'm not a fan of Rogen in the slightest, I can see his appeal across the dozens of comedies produced by Judd Apatow, and kudos for the amount of physical work he put into the preparation of the title role, but as a superhero he just failed in all departments. Yes, I get that was partly the point, and Gondry was clearly trying to poke fun at the whole superhero mythology but Kick-Ass this was not. Similar to Kick-Ass the film had a protagonist who obviously had no idea what he was doing, but unlike that film it lacked the sincerely brilliant comedy and the genuinely likable and well-crafted characters. Rogen once again was the idiotic, bumbling, buffoon who I cared little for - he might as well have stayed with his original rotund appearance if he wasn't going to use his new found strength to good use.
His co-star Jay Chou fared much better but the themes played on in the story were premeditated from the moment the film began. Seriously, even Batman and Robin even tried to crafted a better 'strained partnership' story than this (Okay, that's perhaps a slight exaggeration). It felt as though Cameron Diaz was seemingly slotted into a role to add an extra name to the poster, as she was ultimately quite needless to the overall story.
The Battlestar Galactica fanboy in me smiled in delight at Edward James Olmos' small role, in the feature. However, the highlight, unsurprisingly, was Christoph Waltz' (last seen as the stand out star of Tarantino's brilliant World War 2 romp, Inglourious Basterds) insecure and colourful villain who also shares the best scene of the entire film alongside a cameo appearance from James Franco, during the film's opening moments.
Admittedly I don't know enough about the character in a comic book context to complain about the inaccuracies when compared to the source material, but then I didn't know a thing about The Crow, 300, Blade and other such properties but found them all easily accessible and ultimately very enjoyable. I can't really imagine the original creators, George W Trendle and Fran Striker quite envisioned this shockingly unamusing parody of the character, when a straight action mystery in vein of some of the original pulp serials might have been more fun.
The special effects and action pieces were done relatively well but sadly lacked the visual magic of the director's films to come before. I also never quite got this "Spidey-Sense" the two main protagonists kept on possessing, and I can only imagine it was served for the purposes of the film's 3D conversion - once again I stubbornly and cynically stuck to my guns and caught the film in 2D.
The Green Hornet was littered with all the ironic quirks and parodies seen in previously like-minded films such as Kick Ass and Mystery Men. However, it lacked two key elements which made those films enjoyable, namely some heart and (heaven forbid) some humour. Seth Rogen was presented a chance to prove he was more than the hapless goof we've been subjected to, in recent years, but failed to make the most of it. Hopefully the other superhero film, with Green in its title, will fare a bit better later in the year...
The Green Hornet is in cinemas everywhere now.