Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Failed Redemption and Gay Jokes (or the Green Hornet)

Going into this film, i had no idea it was written by Seth Rogan, all i had heard is that it was funny, and similar to Iron Man. Well, it does have a few gags that work. As for Iron Man, it really tries to be the same movie, without understanding what made that movie work.

Basically, we have Rogan, who starts as an annoying rich asshole, continues being an annoying rich asshole, and ends, well pretty much the same, there's no character arc, and he literally takes a back seat to Kato, the hero and decent character of this movie.

Let's start with the good though, Christoph Waltz and Michele Gondry. With a script in more competent hands than those that scribbled Pineapple Express, this could have been brilliant. i love the intro to this movie, Waltz walking in to this club owned by James Franco. Franco with his best douchy acting explain that he's not afraid of Waltz's character Chudnofsky. That's he's old and out, a disco dinosaur. It's all about being hip and having a gimmick. See, he's Danny Cleer, and he sells meth, he's Crystal Cleer, check out his glass piano. It's all just really fantastic, and Waltz sits there like he's been beaten, like he really is old and out. And then be pulls out his double barrel handgun and takes out Cleer's henchmen. He then makes Cleer cry and beg like a baby before walking out, Cleer thinking he's off the hook "Okay, yeah, let me live, I'll tell the story of your legend. Hey, you forgot your briefcase!" The club explodes as Waltz nonchalantly walks out.

Now the character of Chudnofsky is an interesting one, he's the crime lord that's managed to take over all of he city, he's dangerous, crazy, and well known. However, since he's getting older, he feels he's out of touch, no longer scary, Cleer plants the first seed of doubt, (that we see anyway) and once the Green Hornet shows up it starts growing out of control. Unlike the Hornet, Chudnofsky actually has an arc, his evolution to Bloodnofsky, and his eventual downfall. i'm not entirely sure if he's dead or just blind at the end, blind would be far more fitting, seeing as how he let a slacker in a mask get the best of him.

Now Gondry, i love me some Gondry. Eternal Sunshine... is a brilliant film, the Science of Sleep is beautiful and depressing, Be Kind Rewind was a goofy fun, and hell even Human Nature has it's merits. His actual influence in this film seems pretty minimal, there were only a handful of scenes that had his touch. The first one would have to be the display of Kato's prowess.

The next would be when Chudnofsky (not yet broken) puts a hit out on the Hornet, we get to literally see the word spread out, every time someone is informed, the camera splits and we follow both people as they go and inform someone else. It's this beautiful visual web, that shows the network of villains, it's pure Gondry.

And now the bad, which is mostly everything else.
First off we have Rogan, an unlikeable rich douche that does nothing but use his father's money to party and get laid. Eventually his father dies, and he gets tired of people telling him what a great guy he was, his father was an asshole because he didn't want him to party all the time you see. And ends up getting drunk with his father's mechanic (the only person that would admit he was a bastard) and decides to behead his father's statue. After this Rogan gets into an altercation with a gang straight out of Streets of Rage, and nearly gets his dumb ass killed. Sure his intentions were good, saving a random couple the gang were after, but what the hell did he think he was going to do? Which seems to be the theme of this movie actually. People doing stupid ineffectual things because they think it's right.
Luckily Kato was there to take out an entire armed gang and save our doughy hero. The cops show up and they take off and manage to escape by seriously injuring a cop with their indestructible car.
Apparently Rogan's father was making his cars bulletproof to protect himself against Chudnofsky's influence. Or something.
So now high off the rush, armed with the knowledge that Kato is a genius mechanic and deadly martial arts master, Rogan decides they should use this to fight crime. So all he's is bringing to the table is cash. He doesn't even come up with the name. They get the idea that instead of posing as good guys, they'll convince everyone that they're bad guys as well, so then they won't look like vigilantes and the criminals won't have any leverage against them. It's a clever idea, but it not a new idea the film brings the Hornet mythos, that's always been there.
But things start to fall apart around here, originally the Green Hornet didn't kill anyone, which is why he's armed with the gas gun, here however, they do kill quite a few people, and this is before the final two baddies, just random thugs, dead. And this completely negates the reason for the gas gun. The only reason this thing exists is so Rogan can shoot himself with it for that joke in the trailer. Well, also so Bloodnofsky has a reason to wear a gasmask as part of his ensemble, but again that only happens so they can show how impractical it is, and make a joke about the lenses fogging up. And it could be a funny gag, but the set up is just convoluted. There's no reason for the gas gun to exist. Green Hornet and Kato are straight up murderers in this.

Another joke that doesn't quite work is Cameron Diaz. While making the newspaper focus on the Green Hornet, they hire her to research crime and predict the Hornet's next move, and she unknowingly becomes the brains behind the operation. It's a funny set up, but it never really has any payoff. She's also in the movie to provide a love interest and tension between Rogan and Kato. She sees Kato as the smart and charming man that he is, and seems interested in him, but spurns him for no real reason later. And all the while Rogan sexually harasses her at every chance he gets, and at least (and rightfully so) she despises him because of this. But i just can't help feeling that she rejects Kato, because if the lead doesn't get a woman, then to hell with the secondary character! Poor Kato.

Inevitably Hornet and Kato have a falling out, slightly over Diaz, mostly over Rogan being useless and stupid. They get in a fight, and Kato is cleaning the floor with Rogan, though not wanting to hurt him, but then suddenly they fall in the pool, and oh no, what's this, the amazing superman that is Kato cannot swim, he has a flaw, how totally not obvious! Unsurprisingly Rogan learns nothing from this.

After this Kato continues on as a the Hornet, and Rogan uses the paper and investigates some stories that his father oddly covered up. Now this could have been an interesting turn, Kato being the man on the street, Diaz planning what to do next, and Rogan running the paper, and fighting crime as his father tried to do, but some type of story arc is too much to hope for i guess.

Rogan eventually realizes the crooked DA had been blackmailing his father, and letting Chudnofsky rise into power unchallenged. Not only that, but he was the one that had killed Rogan's father. Here we have the real villain of the film! So Rogan agrees to meet with him to record him and expose everything, but of course he fucks that up. In the meantime Bloodnofsky, completely transformed into a super villain, complete with get-ups and catchphrases, hires the Hornet to kill Rogan.
Now, i'm not sure if this was "We can rule the galaxy as father and son" type of thing, or if he was planning on killing him after he assassinates Rogan. Plot wise it's fairly suspect, but i suppose Bloodnosfky isn't exactly sound of mind right then and there.

So the big showdown happens, there are car chases, and guns, and rolls of paper, and other than that last bit, it's fairly exciting. The problem however, comes down to the villains. Kato kills (or least blinds) Bloodnofsky, and then kills the DA with their wrecked car. At one point Rogan randomly develops kung-fu powers, and distracts Bloodnofsky so Kato can finish him, but, really? It's fucking Crank 2 all over again, the person with no reason for vengeance is getting the kill. i mean shit, the only reason Kato seems to have gotten involved in any of this is boredom and a paycheck. Nothing about the climax was satisfying.

So we end up with a plotless film, about a useless asshole, with no redemption, and far too many denials about being gay. It wasn't funny the first time guys.
Even Iron Man 2 wasn't this bad.

Now see, Iron Man was a great mindless action film, it had Downey, playing a rich, sexist, drunken asshole, and worse he made weapons of mass destruction. But you kind of liked him anyway, because he had charm. Eventually he does learn the errors of his ways, of his past, and is reborn
"I am Iron Man."

The second movie is terrible because not only is Downey suddenly an asshole again, but he's keeping everyone at distance, and is fucking everything up, and it's not fun to see. And worse it was all pointless, and terribly anti-climatic. And the ending battle? Well, Rourke is no Gozer.

Actually now that i think about it, i was wrong, the Green Hornet isn't trying to be Iron Man, it's trying to be Iron Man 2, and well, when you start your standards that low...

two and half out of five