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Pampered heir Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a slacker by day and a party animal by night, until his media tycoon father dies suddenly of an apparent allergic reaction to a bee sting. Bitter after years of criticism and almost incapable of taking care of himself, Britt finds help in the shape of his father’s former mechanic and barista, Kato (Jay Chou). Their mutual dislike of Reid senior leads to an act of petty vandalism during which they foil an attempted mugging, thanks largely to Kato’s superhuman martial arts ability. Emboldened by their success they decide to become masked vigilantes, with Britt adopting the moniker Green Hornet (because Green Bee is lame). Enlisting the help of Britt’s unwitting secretary Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) they use the power of the Daily Sentinel to spread word of their deeds throughout the city, earning the ire of the LA underworld, and in particular supreme crime boss Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz).

 Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) destroys Danny "Crystal" Clear's (James Franco) club
As someone who visits the cinema once or twice a week I view a decent cross-section of films, from mainstream blockbusters to indie flicks. I do try to catch most of the 'event' films if only to see what all the fuss is about, but when it came to The Green Hornet my local cinema had made the decision to screen only the 3D version of the film. This ruled it out for a number of reasons. Firstly, I already pay my £15 each month for an 'unlimited' cinema pass, so I utterly resent being charged another fee for the 'privilege' of watching a film in 3D, especially if no alternative is provided. Secondly, The Green Hornet was not shot in 3D, merely post-produced, and asking cinemagoers to fork out extra for ‘fake’ 3D is disingenuous at best. Thirdly, I'm still not convinced by 3D. It doesn't add to my enjoyment of films, I just find it distracting. Granted this could be because I've watched bad implementations of 3D, but as far as I'm concerned it's a gimmick that is currently being used as a means to mask plot deficiencies with 'ooh, look, it's coming out of the screen' type effects. Still, my main complaint is that it’s a rip off. Note to studios: if you chose to shoot your movie in 3D, or even post-produce it into pseudo 3D, that's your prerogative, but why the hell should I be expected to pay more to support your ‘creative’ decisions? Some of us don't give a rat's arse about 3D and by charging twice you are actually losing revenue from a sizable amount of cinemagoers. Sorry, I just had to get that off of my chest. Rant over.

 Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) with a golf club
As it happens my unwillingness to pay extra to watch the film in 3D turned out to be a blessing. It's almost as if the universe was whispering in my ear, urging me not to pay an additional £2.50 to sit in a darkened room made even darker by a pair of polarised glasses. 'Why do you say this?' I hear you ask. The simple answer is this: The Green Hornet is isn't a particularly good movie. It’s billed as an action/comedy, but it never really manages to do either of these things particularly well. The action element is more successful, largely thanks to the filmmakers’ dedication to using practical effects whenever possible. This means that all of the car chases and explosions look great, but the use of CGI during the fight sequences—the one area where the action needed to look real—leads to a strange sort of disconnect. Given that Kato was once played by real martial arts master Bruce Lee it’s especially sad to see the character reduced to fighting in bullet time and pulling off physically impossible moves. Then there’s the comedy, which is basically the same as the other Rogen/Goldberg penned movies. Unfortunately the sort of humour that worked in Superbad just doesn’t work in this film and Reid/Kato’s relationship pretty much boils down to calling each other childish names before finally realising that they really are good buddies after all. If the truth be told it isn’t so much that it’s a bad film, just that it’s a uninspired film. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and it doesn’t present particularly likeable lead characters, which is a bit of a problem in a buddy movie.

 Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou)
There are some positives to take away though. As previously stated the practical effects lead to some decent action scenes. In fact, I’d even go so far as to call some of them memorable. While I didn’t really care for Rogen or Diaz’s performances I was impressed by Jay Chou, who I’d only ever seen in Curse of the Golden Flower before this. He might not be the fighter that Bruce Lee was but he is clearly a star and he gets most of the best lines. His performance is all the more impressive when you know that he basically had to learn English in record time to play the part. Although I’m not familiar with the TV series I did spot numerous references to Bruce Lee scattered throughout, from pictures in a sketchbook to more obvious stuff like his trademark nunchucks. Although seriously underwritten Christoph Waltz’s take on the neurotic villain is also one of the highlights, if only because he didn’t use a Jamaican accent (listen to the commentary track). There’s also a great un-credited cameo from James Franco and I also spotted Edward Furlong in there somewhere, looking positively dishevelled I might add. Even so, none of this is enough to counteract the film’s flaws.

Video


As previously mentioned The Green Hornet was originally shot in plain old ‘2D’ on 35mm film, with a few additional shots picked up using the RED One digital camera system. Whatever my thoughts about the feature I cannot deny that the 2.40:1 (1080/24p AVC) widescreen transfer is very impressive. There’s plenty of detail on show throughout, particularly in facial close-ups and fabric textures, and the few soft moments I did spot were more likely attributable to the anamorphic shooting format than anything else. Although I can’t vouch for their theatrical accuracy, the BD renders wonderful colours. The daytime sequences have that familiar 'recent film' look, by which I mean that the palette is pushed towards the warmer end of the spectrum and contrast runs pretty hot. While there's nothing wrong this I am getting a little bored by how many modern films seem to adopt the same look. The action sequences generally occur at night and feature a more varied palette, with lots of bright neon, fiery explosions and, of course, the signature green found all over the place. Black levels are very solid and shadow detail remains good in even the murkiest scenes. While it didn’t really do anything to alter my perception of the film, I think it’s fair to say that this transfer will leave the film’s fans very pleased.

 Kato (Jay Chou) fights!

Audio


The disc's main audio track is a DTS-HD Master 5.1 affair that does its part to make up for the film's narrative shortcomings. It presents strong, natural dialogue that maintains a good balance with the rest of the elements, even during the livelier moments. The surrounds are extremely well utilised for the action scenes, during which there are a tremendous amount of discrete effects in everything from fisticuffs and fire fights, to car chases and the all-out warfare that is the final act. Particularly memorable is 'Kato time', an aural effect used to highlight the way in which time appears to slow down whenever Kato does his arse-kicking thing. The sound of his breathing and heartbeat are amplified, while effects move through the soundstage with greater precision to create a thoroughly immersive experience. The ambient effects are also well represented, with bustling traffic in the street scenes, crowd noises and the like. However, the absolute star of the mix is the bass, which is just about as ferocious as any I can remember. It’s incredibly potent during the action scenes as it lends weight to punches, gunshots and explosions, but it’s also on hand to reinforce the more mundane effects and the music in a way that few recent soundtracks have managed. Speaking of music, it is a big part of the mix and the delivery is usually all-encompassing, filling the room with numerous raucous rock tunes. To put it simply, this is one of the best Master Audio soundtracks to grace a Blu-ray in some time.

 Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and Lenore "Casey" Case (Cameron Diaz)

Extras


The Green Hornet Cutting Room: Here’s where I sound like a luddite. This feature allows you to recut certain scenes from the film, add music and sound effects, and then save and upload for others to see. The choice of clips is limited, the user interface sucks, and I have zero desire to cut the film in the first place (that’s the editor’s job). Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get the appeal of these features. I guess it’s commendable that Sony is trying to do something different with the format, but despite all of the promises I’m yet to see an interactive Blu-ray feature that is actually fun to use. Your mileage may vary of course.

Filmmakers’ Commentary: The group commentary track is actually quite informative, with plenty of detail about the project’s origins, how various people were attached to the picture before dropping out, and various other production titbits. Gondry makes some interesting comments about filmmakers becoming too dependent on the audience, or in other words pandering to the lowest common denominator, indicating that he may not be entirely satisfied with the finished picture. Seth Rogen quickly shoots this down by saying 'if they're not laughing you're failing', but it would seem that the irony of this statement fails to hit home. There's also some interesting talk about Nic Cage's 'unique' take on Chudnofsky (he was going to play the character with a Jamaican accent) and Stephen Chow's involvement, or lack thereof. It’s actually a pretty good track.

Deleted Scenes (26:33 HD): There are nine of these available individually or via a ‘play all’ function. Most are presented in rough form, with production audio and no score, and are a mix of new scenes and scene extensions. There’s really nothing here that would have made the completed film better, but it’s always interesting to see what filmmakers cut along the way.

 Kato (Jay Chou) and Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) fight
Awesoom: Gag Reel (07:18 HD): This is a pretty standard gag reel, but I did find it depressing that the outtakes are actually funnier than the film from which they come…

Trust Me: Director Michel Gondry (09:33 HD): As you might have guessed, this featurette focuses on the film’s director. We learn that The Green Hornet was supposed to be Gondry’s first American movie fifteen years ago until it fell through and how he fought for the opportunity to helm the new project. There’s footage from early fight tests, an examination of ‘Kato time’ and Gondry’s shooting style in general, along with lots of ‘Gondry is great’ style interviews with the cast and crew. One thing that comes across is that the director is a really funny guy.

Writing The Green Hornet (10:35 HD): Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are on-hand to discuss how they created the script for their version of The Green Hornet. They explain how they attempted to create an origin story while staying faithful to the original work, by including occasional nods to thing from the TV show etc. There’s also talk of how the script was often rewritten to accommodate the actors’ ideas, especially after Nic Cage dropped out at the last minute.

The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool (07:17 HD): As the title suggests, this featurette is all about the Green Hornet’s car, Black Beauty. We’re shown footage of how they restored old 1965 Imperials for use in the film, how they were stripped and rebuilt for stunt driving, how the various weapons were added and more.  It’s amazing how many cars they actually reconstructed for use in the film and just how many they totalled, including an unintentional crash during the first day of filming with the first car (when the throttle stuck and it drove into a wall). It’s easy to see where the budget goes on these big action flicks.

 Kato's (Jay Chou) one-inch punch!
The Stunt Family Armstrong (07:39 HD): This featurette focuses on those individuals who don’t usually get the credit they deserve: the stunt performers. Many of you have probably seen Vic Armstrong without ever knowing his name or face, as he was the stunt double in films like Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Along with his brother Andy and son Scott, Vic talks about the business and the practicalities of creating the stunts for a show like The Green Hornet. There’s also footage of Andy behind the wheel during one of the film’s many car chases. The featurette also expands on how the filmmakers eliminated the need for CGI as much as possible, going so far as to build huge practical rigs such as a seventy-foot elevator.

Finding Kato (06:00 HD): A short featurette about the search for Kato and how they filmmakers eventually settled on Jay Chou. It includes some background info on the Asian star along with footage from his huge stadium concerts and interviews with the man himself.

The Art of Destruction (14:04 HD): Do you like watching stuff blow up? Well then, this featurette is for you! We’re shown on-set footage of most of the film’s big set pieces, including the hair-raising opening in which Christoph Waltz and some of the other actors are actually in the shot as a building explodes behind them. Unlike most films this was done practically rather than with CGI, the nutters! This should be interesting to anyone curious as to how stunt coordinators plan and execute the complex sequences found in many of today’s action films.

Previews: The usual Sony promos are included, this time for Blu-ray is High-Definition!, Just Go with It, How Do You Know, and Faster.

BD-Live: Yes, Sony’s online portal is once again present and once again it fails to include  anything of relevance to the main feature. It’s pitiful how poorly utilised BD-Live is after all this time.

 The Green Hornet (Seth Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou)

Overall


I have to say I was surprised to learn that The Green Hornet was directed by Michel Gondry, as it bears little to no resemblance to his other movies. Even so, most of the positive aspects appear to be down to the French director, from the decision to shoot things practically, to the quirky flashbacks and even ‘Kato time’. Unfortunately the script isn’t a product of Gondry’s mind, and it shows. It’s overlong, uninventive and unengaging. It is, then, especially sad that the Blu-ray release is getting on for demo quality material. Video and audio are both fantastic and for once the bonus material is actually quite interesting, even if it does lack a proper in-depth making of documentary. For the uninitiated it’s hard to recommend this as anything other than a rental at best, but if you were a fan you certainly won’t be disappointed by the quality of this disc.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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