New on DVD: The Green Hornet

By Robert B. Desalvo

Seth Rogen co-wrote and stars in this post-modern superhero flick about a playboy turned crime fighter.

Director: Michel Gondry Rating: PG-13 Studio: Sony Pictures 

The Green Hornet started as a Thirties radio program and evolved into a Forties comic and Sixties TV series before Seth Rogen took a stab at it in this century for the big screen. Director Michel Gondry and Rogen—who co-wrote the screenplay with Evan Goldberg—have crafted a post-modern superhero buddy flick that feels fresh and crackles with energy.

Rogen plays Britt Reid, the slacker son of the owner of L.A.’s The Daily Sentinel newspaper. Britt is an unapologetic playboy who takes little interest in his father’s business until his father is found dead of an apparent allergic reaction to a bee sting. Britt fires almost all of his father’s staff except Kato (Jay Chou), his father’s mechanic, who is also a skilled martial arts expert and gadget wizard.

The bromance begins when Britt convinces Kato that they should become crime fighters that pose as criminals in order to infiltrate the criminal underworld. The duo uses the unwitting advice of sexy assistant Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) to raise the Green Hornet’s profile in the press. Their efforts, which are widely reported in The Daily Sentinel, anger Russian mobster Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) —an insecure criminal who is amusingly paranoid about how scary he appears to others. Many street battles between Chudnofsky’s goons and the Green Hornet and Kato ensue in the Black Beauty—the tricked-out sweet ride designed by Kato that is almost indestructible—before the final showdown.

The best moments in The Green Hornet occur when Britt and Kato bounce ideas off each other and try to deconstruct what works (cool car) and doesn’t work (tights) with superheroes. Jealousy brews between Britt and Kato with each suspecting the other of making a move on Lenore, and the ensuing smackdown the two give each other in Britt’s Hef-style mansion will make you mourn the subsequent destruction of its pimp toys and gadgets.

There are plenty of superhero movies that take themselves way too seriously, but The Green Hornet is not one of them. Rogen and Chou make a fun pair and Waltz chomps into yet another chance to play a dangerous smarmy character like the one he won an Oscar for in Inglourious Basterds or the nasty ringmaster he is currently playing on-screen in Water for Elephants. Whether you check it out on DVD, Blu-ray or Blu-ray 3D—which replicates the impressive theatrical 3D presentation—The Green Hornet stings in all the right places.

Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a filmmakers’ commentary, Chou’s audition, a gag reel and three making-of featurettes. BD exclusives include cutting room material, “Trust Me: Director Michel Gondry,” “Finding Kato,” “The Art of Destruction” and “The Stunt Family Armstrong.” The Blu-ray 3D adds 3D animated storyboards for more glasses-on fun.


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