Marvel has destroyed all superhero films! There was a time when a superhero film was an event – the first Spiderman, any Superman film, any Batman film (until Batman and Robin) but now they are a predictable addition to every summer movies list it has destroyed the very genre itself and Marvel are to blame.
The reason they are to blame is because they decided on the brilliant idea of creating a string of films that will culminate with this summers Avengers film. This meant that for the Avengers film to be a reality, they had to release at least four superhero films (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America). They actually managed to sneak an extra one in there! (Iron Man 2)
They have now created a type of movie that has been so badly over saturated that you have to do something special with your character to stop it falling into the “meh” category of superhero films. The Dark Knight managed this! Captain America and Thor didn’t! But this isn’t a comment on the state of superhero films, this is a review for a film that was released last year, The Green Hornet.
The reason I open with this rant is because the only way that The Green Hornet could be anything more than “meh” was if it did something different. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t difficult to see what that different approach should have been. The Green Hornet is a millionaire playboy who decides that he wants to be superhero. Rather than be the “normal” good guy and take the standard approach, he pretends to be a criminal, taking down the bad guys from inside their own world. It seems dark and heavy but the twist is that the Green Hornet himself is rubbish! He does however, have a sidekick called Kato who is brilliant! A martial arts expert, a genius with gadgets and machinery but getting none of the credit!
This premise is ripe for a proper, all out, tongue in cheek comedy! Seth Rogen playing Green Hornet but as an even more incompetent idiot than this character already is. Ramp up the ridiculousness of each “superhero” situation by having the actual hero be crap and the sidekick actually save the day each time.
That’s not to say this film didn’t flirt with this idea but didn’t do it enough. It felt like it was stuck between being a serious superhero film or a comedy superhero film. unfortunately this just leaves you with a film that is “meh.” The Green Hornet isn’t enough of an icon or even a good enough character in his own right to actually warrant an ordinary, “meh” film like both Thor and Captain America can. This needed to do something different and it just doesn’t.
This doesn’t mean it was awful or even boring. There are moments that are fantastic. When the film plays on the brilliance of Jay Chou’s Kato versus Seth Rogen’s rubbish Green Hornet, it can be really funny. They include very clever moments when you see fights from Kato’s perspective (everything slowed down with him planning his next move or target) and these really show off Jay Chou’s excellent martial arts skill.
The villain is played by Christoph Waltz who we know can play creepy and genuinely terrifying from his part in Inglorious Basterds but here the film casts him as more of a “comedy” villain, a clueless, past it mobster who keeps being told how to make himself cool. It’s to his credit that Christoph throws himself into this role and almost steals the whole film it wasn’t for the skills that Jay Chou shows off.
It’s because of these glimpses of brilliance that I know Green Hornet is a wasted opportunity. I don’t think it could ever have been top of anyone’s superhero films list (Dark Knight should be at the top of EVERYONE’S superhero list) but it still could have been in the same category as Spiderman 1 and 2, Batman Begins and even Iron Man (the template for all new superhero films).
Overall, I can’t get past the word “meh” to describe the film. Moments of genius don’t hide the fact that this is a wasted opportunity and will just fall into a very fast growing group of average superhero films that I hope the Avengers doesn’t join as well.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)