A flat take on minor comic book character is a curious waste of all the talents involved.
This story featuring the masked vigilante, who previously appeared in radio serials, comic books and a TV series, updates the action to modern day Los Angeles.
When Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), inherits his father’s media empire, he decides to turn his life around and become a crime fighter with the help of a mysterious employee named Kato (Jay Chou).
After recruiting a new secretary (Cameron Diaz), Britt (aka The Green Hornet) takes on a Russian crime boss (Christoph Waltz) who is controlling the city’s underworld operations.
Unlike more recent superhero adaptations, the tone here is closer to an irreverent 1980s action-comedy, with the script by Rogen and Evan Goldberg showing glimpses of their work on Superbad (2007) and Pineapple Express (2008).
There are some amusing moments, mainly between Rogen and Chou as they get to know each other, but mostly this is formulaic stuff.
The only trace of his considerable visual talents is a trippy ‘explanation’ sequence towards the end – that feels weirdly out of place – and some action shots designed for 3D.
Which brings us on to another problem with the film, which was the decision to post-convert the film into 3D.
Technically it looks quite sharp (although it wasn’t shot on dedicated 3D cameras) but it is used in a gimmicky way and overall was my first experience of a 3D-induced headache.
I’m unsure why this was the case, but it may have something to do with the amounts of quickly cut, meaningless action on display and the way in which it has been shot with even the most perfunctory scenes adapted for the third dimension.
Rogen and Chou have an agreeable chemistry together but nearly every other actor is given little to chew on.
Waltz seems to have been asked to repeat his creepy-but-funny Nazi routine from Inglourious Basterds and Diaz has a depressingly thin role as an obligatory love interest.
After a decade of superhero movies, it feels like major studios are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to characters.
The Green Hornet seems like a depressing portent of things to come, as B-list superheroes are reycled for the Comic-Con generation.
Like 3D, it seems like there are a lot more of these films to come.