The Green Hornet is not a Gondry film


Written by Marlon Dolcy
17 Monday 17th January 2011


The popularity of the crime fighting super hero continues like a Juggernaut (bitch) through Hollywood, with the recent success of films such as Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2 and the Dark Knight. Green Hornet 3D; the latest addition to the genre, forms an unlikely alliance between actor, writer and producer Seth Rogen and French director Michel Gondry, to deliver the longest, most expensive final sketch of an SNL episode that has ever been seen.
The film had been plagued by bad buzz all during its production, including rounds of reshoots and a full scale marketing rethink. Not to mention Nick Cage exiting the project over differences between himself and Gondry and Rogen. Rumour through the internet grapevine was that the conflict came over Cage’s adoption of a Jamaican accent for his role as the villain, which would have been worth the entrance fee alone.
The film’s main problem is that it’s indecisive in positioning itself between satirising the genre and celebrating it. In the end the balance achieved is horribly wrong. Rogen’s sporadic script (which gives him some of the best lines) perseveres and builds on Rogen’s brand of asshole charm at the expense of decent storytelling.
Unfortunately this is also the film where Michel Gondry sells his creative soul to the devil that is Hollywood. Someone like Gondry is allowed a pass every once in a while for films such as these, as long as they are outweighed by their more idiosyncratic films. One known input in the film from the auteur (which in addition uses 3D heavily), was the invention of “Kato Vision” where (to try and explain it simply) the beginning of the action is freeze framed, important details, and props are noted and the jigsaw is put into place at the end through Kato’s bad ass kung fu moves and the use of slow and sped up motion.
Kato-Vision aside this is not a Gondry film, and he has admitted as much to the LA Times, detailing diplomatically his differences with Rogen over a series of scenes (the inclusion of Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise while Kato and the Hornet are driving being one of them). Not that Rogen particularly returned the favour, saying "“I remember when we were shooting it, he was sitting there with his arms crossed and a grumpy look on his face, but there wasn’t a second when we thought we might be wrong. We were like, ‘You are going to feel so stupid when you see that this is the funniest freaking thing in the entire world.”
A Gondry film is more often than not characterised by its lo-fi sensibilities including its heartfelt handmade aesthetic. But The Green Hornet should have been the ideal project for Gondry’s first foray into big budget film making. The lo-fi special effects adapted to his music videos such as The White Stripes' The Hardest Button to Button or Fell in Love with a Girl would have been better suited rather than the CGI special effects that we see in the film. The Lego formation and pixelation in those videos display a breadth of imagination that big bucks effects simply miss. There's nothing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here.

The film that sums up Gondry well as a director is the excellent Be Kind Rewind, where two employees of a VHS rental store are forced to recreate films such as Ghostbusters, Robocop and Rush Hour for their customers, after inadvertently erasing all their tapes. Using themselves as actors and cheap special effects they make up for what they lack in technical ability with charm and DIY imagination which in turn becomes more popular than the originals. One can sense that the two characters are in fact Gondry himself. Let us hope that one day Gondry might create a super hero film in similar vein.

Green Hornet is in cinemas now on general release


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  • Guest: shazzzzzzzzzzam
    Thu 27 - Jan - 2011, 23:57
    They marketed this movie all wrong. Should have played up the Gondry angle and downplayed the "big hollywood blockbuster" aspect. I didn't even know Gondry directed it until about a week ago. I probably would have gone to see it, if I had. Now the bad reviews are just too much for me to overcome and I'll wait for Netflix or bit torrent.