Monday 24 January 2011


(Michel Gondry, 2010)

Seeking to marry the wry irony and braying adolescent wit of some modern comedy with the Superhero genre is a brave - or foolhardy - venture. It also seems quite pointless. Superhero films skirt comedy in their every contrived and restricted aspect: plotting, characterisation, design, visuals, music are all tied to the conventions of the Comics medium, and mainstream comics, at that, often making for deformed cinematic texts. To try to gently tease that easily parodied side of the genre while also playing a deadpan buddy comedy overloads The Green Hornet. That it also has to fulfil the base requirements of the genre by including fight scenes and car chases and confrontations means that it's basically a strange mess, tonally confused, narratively awkward and emotionally hollow.
Gondry - obviously an original and distinctive talent - is marooned by the screenplay and he shoots the majority of the spectacle like a competent tv director. Three scenes bear his obvious imprint: a contract spread by word of mouth reproduced as a split screen symphony, a fight scene making virtue of Kato as a 3D effect in his own right, and a sped up sequence of Seth Rogen and a girl snogging their way through a garage full of classic cars.
But this odd concoction ultimately pleases nobody, since it partly fails in each of it's aims: it's neither a fine Superhero blockbuster, nor a hilarious comedy. Rogen, always good for an off-kilter one-liner, is never a likeable or convincing lead and Christoph Waltz lacks any of the menace or charisma evident in his villain in Inglourious Basterds. He is not helped by a a character with a single quirk (an obsession with how scary he is) instead of a personality. Cameron Diaz scarcely registers at all, leaving Jay Chou to steal the show as Kato, getting most of the best action scenes to himself.

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