Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Green Hornet (2011) History and Review

Now, I was (kinda/sorta) excited about this Movie - everyone knows Im "old school" when it comes to my Super-Hero Tastes.

The Shadow, Golden Age DC, WWII Captain America Stories.

So I was hoping for the best with "The Green Hornet" and got the worst . . . . .

The Green Hornet started as a 1930's radio serial - Inspired by "The Lone Ranger" and created pretty much as a response to the popularity of the classic "Street and Smith" radio show "The Shadow".

The Green Hornet evolved into two Universal movie serials "The Green Hornet" (1940) and "The Green Hornet Strikes Again" (1941) - with Gordon Jones and Warren Hull playing Britt Reid/The Green Hornet in each respective Serial. Both were quite nice actually, had a reasonable budget and did quite well. Unfortunately, the second didn't do quite well enough to warrent a sequal.

Then, in the 60's - creeping in almost under the radar. We got a Green Hornet TV Show.
The 60's TV show, lasted for just one season - and starred Van Williams as The Green Hornet/Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato.

It was the success of ABC's 1960's Batman series prompted the network to adapt the venerable radio and movie-serial masked crime fighter the Green Hornet.

There was even a crossover to Batman- something rare in Superhero TV - Van Williams and Bruce Lee made a cameo as the Green Hornet and Kato in one of the series' many "window cameos" (while the Caped Crusaders were climbing a wall). This was in the episode "The Spell of Tut"!

Then, the following year - the Green Hornet and Kato appeared in a two-part Batman Story - "A Piece of the Action" and "Batman's Satisfaction" - in the story the Green Hornet and Kato are in Gotham City to bust a counterfeiting stamp ring run by Colonel Gumm. Ripping stuff to be honest, if you haven't seen it - make the effort!

Then we come to "The Green Hornet" (2011) - now, as usual - I'm going to ATTEMPT to be kind. But I won't lie, it's difficult.

Seth Rogen - the star of hits such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad - was star, co-writer, and executive producer of The Green Hornet - and it shows.

The whole thing lacks polish, and whilst Seth is a funny guy - his skills outside of the relatively narrow field of big screen comedy, are somewhat lacking. I think the BIGGEST mistake, was letting Rogen have so much input - leaving the whole thing a little cofused and lacklustre.

Is it a Superhero Movie, an Action Flick, a Satire of the Superhero Genre, or just a Comedy that just happens to have a Superhero backstory - the answer is simple, all of the above and NONE of the above - yes, the whole mess is that unsatisfying and THAT confusing.

Rogens Britt Reid is the wastrel son (and to be frank, if he were my son I would have disowned the bugger a LONG time ago) of a Los Angeles newspaper owner (played in a very two-dimensional manner) by Tom Wilkinson.

He lives a drunken debauched bachelor existence - these scenes are not funny, not sad or poignant - just rather embarrasing.

When his Father dies in (slightly) mysterious circumstances, wastrel Britt finds himself bonding with his late father's mechanic and coffee expert (I kid you not) Kato, played by Asian star Jay Chou.

Discovering Katos amazing martial arts skills and his apparent genius for creating weird and wonderful gadgets - he becomes The Green Hornet (ACTUALLY he's ALMOST called the "Green Bee" FFS) using the newspaper office to put himself in the thick of the action.

Christoph Waltz is the below-par villain who calls himself "Bloodnofski" (seriously, is this the f***ing best they could come up with) and Cameron Diaz (though lovely) – her character has been "done" in Iron Man (ala Pepper Pots), and though she's the "brains" of the operation - I found that to be really irritating, poor old Britt Reid is reduced to the role of a simpering moron - not cool!

The jokes aren't funny enough to cover up the other weaknesses in the movie, and the action isn't good enough to make up for the bad jokes.

Overall - (3/10 - and thats being generous)

If you are going to make a film, DECIDE what the film is before shooting it - the whole thing feels like they made it up as they went along. It's not polished, and its not professional, and its not very good.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Cape (A Review of the First Two Episodes)

Now I know Morf (Over at Pulp Monsters, the makers of  Pulp City) wasnt "keen" on the Cape - so I watched it initially expecting to hate it.

Certainly there were elements which were naieve, and its a fact that its been "trimmed" down from the shooting script I read last year. I reckon its original running time would have been somewhere around the 68 minutes mark (without adverts) rather than the 45 minutes and change it actually ran on the network.

HOWEVER I think the first two episodes of "The Cape" were really entertaining - great fun in fact.

The first (Pilot) episode really did suffer from pacing issues, it raced along with little or no character exposition - BUT (theres always a big but isnt there LoL) IMHO it didn't really suffer from this - the missing exposition would have merely been characters whining how crappy thier lives were anyway, so it was nice to see things get down to the "meat" of the actual action.

A couple of minor gripes with the acting, Vinnie Jones LITERALLY didn't seem to know where to go or what he was doing with his Character "Scales" - which tells me the Director was not giving Vinnie enough attention - Vinnie is not a natural actor, and always needs pushing in the "direction" thats needed for the character. Its particularly difficult with "non-comic" Super characters, as the actor has very little to go on beyond Series Bible/Script/and Director - and if one (or more) of those key areas are lacking - we end up with "wooden" acting.

Also throughout the Pilot, poor old David Lyons (Vince Faraday/The Cape) seemed a little lost - maybe that was how the character was meant to be "reacting" to his world falling apart - or maybe David was suffering from BDS (Bad Director Syndrome) like Vinnie was.

Simon West who directed the Pilot Episode, is more known as an Executive Producer rather than a Director - and I have a sneaking suspicion in the Pilot of the Cape we are seeing why. He seems OK at directing the broader scope of whats going on - but it seems that his attention to his Actors needs are suffering as a consequence. Time will only tell I suppose.

James Frain as Peter Fleming/Chess Camps things up nicely, he is a competent and established actor - who does well in any environment his work puts him in. So he seemed to be "immune" to West's mis-direction.

When we move onto Episode Two "Tarot" - we see a BIG change in pacing. Obviously written and edited for its time allotment. Its a much more satisfying "ride" for the viewer. The Actors seem much more at home in their Characters skins, and Deran Sarafian (whos directed Episodes of Lost, Fringe, and Night Stalker) handles his actors and the action well. Even the few moments of humour come across well.

Cain (the main Baddie in this episode) is excellent, creepy and full of malice - I hope we see more characters like him in the future.

Overall a weak but readily recovered start to the Series, I just hope "The Cape" goes the distance.