'The Green Hornet'
(Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wilkinson, et al / NR / 93 mins)
Overview: The hard-partying son of L.A.'s most powerful media magnate realizes his true calling as a crime-fighting vigilante after his father perishes under suspicious circumstances in this big-screen adaptation of the popular radio serial, comic book, film, and television series originated by Lone Ranger creators Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) single-handedly built a media empire, but unfortunately his industrious genes weren't passed down to his son, Britt (Seth Rogen)!
Verdict: The 'Green Hornet' is not exactly a B movie, but lots of people are laid waste by falling objects in surprisingly old-school ways.
Even its flurry of CGI activity, stylized slow-motion shots and high-tech gadgetry offers little payoff, despite an eclectic cast.
This current iteration of the old radio and TV show stars Seth Rogen and Taiwanese singer/musician/actor Jay Chou as the masked vigilante Green Hornet and his sidekick, Kato. The woman they both halfheartedly desire is Lenore, blandly played by Cameron Diaz.
There's not much chemistry among any of the trio. But there are more unimaginative car crashes, explosions and other acts of generic mayhem in this movie than bees around a sticky jelly doughnut.
This misguided crime-fighting update shoots for silly laughs but only occasionally lands them. As directed by Michel Gondry, Hornet's visuals have a few pixilated flourishes. But the production design is more cluttered than eye-catching, and the near-pointless use of 3-D simply muddies the photography.
Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg are responsible for the story's reboot, with a disjointed screenplay and jokes haphazardly thrown around in the hope that some will stick.
Rogen's obnoxious, overgrown rich kid, Britt Reid, is unconvincing as any superhero. And while Chou has the slick moves and good looks needed for his skilled sidekick, Kato, his halting delivery often impedes their patter.
Where the original Britt was a debonair publisher by day and a crime fighter by night, Rogen's version is just a spoiled party animal with no involvement in his father's news empire until his dad's death. The elder Reid is played imperiously by Tom Wilkinson (The Ghostwriter), a mystifying choice by a talented actor.
Equally hard to comprehend is why supporting-actor Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (the unforgettable polyglot Nazi in Inglourious Basterds) would take the part of a caricatured crime boss. It must be the Oscar curse at work.
The involvement of impressive actors may be the result of the lure of director Gondry, whose résumé includes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But that collaboration with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman was far more ingenious.
Hornet and Kato cruise the crime-choked streets of Los Angeles in a tricked-out 1965 black Chrysler looking for bad guys to bash. (They also take down some law enforcers in the process as the police chase them, but such collateral damage gets lost amid the frenetic shtick.) The Hornet is mostly a hapless loudmouth. It's Kato's Matrix-inspired, time-slowing vision and his stealthy martial arts moves that come closest to dynamic.
On the other end of the excitement spectrum is Diaz's Lenore, Britt's temporary secretary who we're supposed to believe is an expert criminologist with a sage overview of the current state of journalism. Edward James Olmos brings so much dignity to his newspaper editor role that he seems to be in another movie. James Franco's cameo is the film's funniest sequence.
Some of the car gadgetry, Kato's specialty, looks cool, but too much 3-D time is spent on splintering windshields, windows and sundry reflective surfaces.
The 'Green Hornet' is otherwise colorless, numbing and sluggishly paced.