Friday, January 21, 2011

The Green Hornet, IMAX 3-D

Growing up, one of my favorite television shows was The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee as Kato and Van Williams as Britt Reid and The Green Hornet. There was something about these characters I liked then but I could never really put my finger on it. As I got older I looked back and realized it was a series that resonated in places I didn’t expect. It didn’t have the fluff of the popular Batman show of the time and there was something about the show that seemed real a way I respected. It was a superhero series that presented reality more than many were accustomed to.

I can’t express how surprised and overjoyed I was when I first heard The Green Hornet was being made into a feature film. I can’t tell you how upset I was when I heard that Seth Rogen was the driving force behind the movie. Not only was Rogen to star in it, he was to help produce and write it. While Rogen is a decent comedic actor, he is far from good enough to pull off the role and complexity of Britt Reid/The Green Hornet. Netier was his comedy a style I thought would pay respect to the character and story.

The Warren IMAX just came from having the top rated screen in North America for the release of Tron. Coming to the same theater now was The Green Hornet. I decided to check out our cities newest phenomena, the largest and newest IMAX in America. I was willing to compromise to see the theater, and hopefully enjoy a movie I had low expectations for.

I have attended films in no less than 5-6 different IMAX theaters, and none of them even came close to comparing to the new Warren Theater World Class IMAX here in Wichita. I arrived 45 minutes early, and quickly realized, I should have arrived at least another 30 minutes earlier than that. I thought I had no chance for a good seat, but the massiveness of this theater had me sitting in the general location I always sit in. Thinking about the movie being on the IMAX and in 3-D was something I was also skeptical of. I had seen various 3-D action movies, and in most of them the 3-D was a gimmick to get people into the seats, not worth the extra cost. I quickly realized, some of my expectations were too low. Not was the technical expectations way below what I expected, so was my perspectives of the movie, at least to a point.

When I have to pay extra for 3-D I expect to get what I pay for. I was overwhelmingly surprised and pleased at the quality of the scenes in The Green Hornet. The quality direction provided by Gondry kept this fast-pasted, comic book, action adventure flowing nicely and it was a festive treat for the eyes and senses. This was especially true in the slow motion fight sequences. There were also three unexpected stars in The Green Hornet, the direction of Gondry, Jay Chou as Kato, and the car.

The Green Hornet starts out with Britt Reid as a small boy who has a fascination with superheroes. He has an overpowering father who happens to be a self-made, powerful, independent, newspaper publisher. He drives his young son Britt to be a man. Britt unfortunately grows up being his own man resistant to his father’s wishes. From a young child, to adulthood, Reid becomes a party animal whose character fits into the typical comedy as presented in the past by Rogen.

After the unexpected death of his father, a now 20 or 30 something Reid inherits his fathers, massive wealth. He stumbles on one of his fathers former employees, (Reid has fires many of his father’s former staff without meeting them). Kato makes a tremendous cup of coffee on one hand, and on the other, can create and invent all kinds of wonderful gadgets. The two eventually go in together to present a different kind of superhero, one which will appear to be criminals in order to ultimately get the real bad guys. The chief bad guy is Academy Award Winner, Christoph Waltz from Inglorious Bastards fame. Waltz plays the role of Chudnofsky, a man who seeks to control all of the crime and will not hesitate one second if needing to kill someone.

With The Green Hornet, a fun, action filled adventure takes place, that is actually well written, somewhat faithful to the original Green Hornet, and it is a joy ride for the viewer. There is a good job of character development and we see a legitimate relationship develop between Reid and Kato. While there may be personality traits one doesn’t appreciate we see growth in the characters. Not only does the story and direction help give credence to the development of story, but Jay Chou does a wonderful job as Kato. Chou, a singer musician, gives a credible performance and in many ways, is the glue that holds the story together. There is a terrific soundtrack to the film, with the only gripe being, not a long enough sequence of the original Green Hornet theme song.

One of the things I liked about The Green Hornet was how the film presents friendship, forgiveness, and the trust and respect needed to develop a meaningful relationship. We see a presentation of service and caring for others. It isn’t a perfect illustration but there are concepts that go beyond comic book violence. There are ample deaths in ways that are acceptable in movies like The Punisher, but somewhat surprising in this story, even with some innocent people getting killed as a result of a prideful arrogance. While not expected, I liked what I saw though; there are consequences of arrogance, pride, and ego. The characters eventually see the importance of give and take in a relationship, and the disadvantages of serving self. For real friendships to have a real impact on an individual or society, the characters see the importance of working together, while at the same time, recognizing the skills, talents and contributions of the other. One would think that John Maxwell could use the movie to draw illustrations to help in a new Leadership book for business people or church leaders. Britt Reid comes to realize that while he has the money, he needs a partner, ultimately, he also realizes he needs to have respect for that partner, including giving them credit for what they have done to contribute to the cause, while at the same time, allowing them the freedom to be who they are.

We often see people force themselves on others, or at the very least, expect them to be who we want them to be. The Green Hornet does a good job at showing the importance of encouragement, support, and individual talents. Most will accomplish little without the support of those around them, whether a pastor with their lay people in their congregation, or a corporate head who recognizes the workers who either promote, or build their product, whether in the corporate office, or assembly line of the factories. In The Green Hornet, we see a partnership and relationship develop, which for me reminded me of the instruction given by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament. We are a single body that when coming together, can accomplish many wonderful things.

While I was impressed with the movie and got more than I expected, Seth Rogen, while better than expected is just not talented enough as an actor to pull off the role of The Green Hornet or the dual identity of Britt Reid. He may develop into that role, and hopefully we see that in a follow up. This has the potential to be good series as has Batman, Iron Man and others. Thankfully, there are other things, from the car the Green Hornet drives, to a talented secretary played by Cameron Diaz, to the supporting role of Jay Chou, and Christoph Waltz that pull Rogen along to make the movie enjoyable.

While The Green Hornet is not a perfect movie, it is a good edge of your seat, fun ride. Outside of Rogen and a few other minor flaws I had a great time. For that, minus those minor issues, I give an enjoyable and entertaining 8, especially if on the IMAX and in 3-D

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