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'Hornet' is merely a cool ride

Published January 19. 2011 05:00PM

Cool car.

That is the major take-away from "The Green Hornet."

Seth Rogen is cool, too.

"The Green Hornet" is entertaining in a way that should please fans of Rogen, cool cars and action films.

Is "The Green Hornet" entertaining enough to pay the premium to see it in 3-D?

Probably not, since, as with the car that the Green Hornet (Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou) tool around in, the film's 3-D has after-market additions. The film's end credits list "3-D Enhancements."

The 3-D in "The Green Hornet" doesn't always seem to be in effect. I repositioned my 3-D glasses several times to see if they weren't working properly when scenes appeared to not be in 3-D.

It wasn't the 3-D glasses. The scenes were in 3-D. I could tell because when I moved the 3-D glasses slightly, the scene was appreciably lighter. A big complaint among movie reviewers, especially Roger Ebert, is that scenes in 3-D, with the 3-D glasses on, are darker. Indeed, they are.

Furthermore, do we really need 3-D in a two-shot, i.e., a dialogue scene between two persons, here, for example, Rogen and a secretary (Cameron Diaz)? Or do we really need to see a rose garden in 3-D?

Let's face it: 3-D is a gimmick. So, bring on the gimmicks. "The Green Hornet" needed more in-your-face gimmicks.

The action sequences in "Green Hornet" are nifty, but, again, the 3-D obscures some of it, even to some shots appearing blurry or out of focus, as are some of the foreground images in dialogue scenes.

The napkin-thin plot in the screenplay written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg ("Superbad," "Pineapple Express"), based on characters created by George W. Trendle for the original 1930's radio series, is a mash-up of similar superhero films: the son who has abandonment issues with his father, male buddy conflict and buddy bonding, and drug-dealing bad guys.

The Green Hornet, aka Britt Reid, is the hard-partying son of the publisher of a fictitious Los Angeles newspaper. When his father dies, Reid becomes his successor. Kato is his father's car collection mechanic-slash-expert cappuccino maker. I am not making this up.

Michael Gondry (screenplay co-writer Oscar winner, "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," 2004) directs with no particularly discernable style, which is odd, considering his previous work.

Rogen ("Funny People") has a likeability factor or not depending on your viewpoint. As the Green Hornet, with a Blues Brothers hat, he's Dan Aykroyd, to Chou's more physical acting. The duo's outfits, including Zorro-like masks, and especially Kato's chauffer hat, make no sense whatsoever, and make the duo look like they're wearing Halloween costumes.

Several action scenes emphasize martial arts. In scenes with Chou, a Taiwanese pop and movie star, the other actor speaking to him repeats his pronouncements and responses. That was smart as his English verges on the inarticulate.

Tom Wilkinson blusters through as the newspaper publisher father. Christoph Waltz, last year's actor Oscar winner, clenches his jaw menacingly as the drug-dealing henchman.

Cameron Diaz is breezy as the secretary with a heart of gold. Edward James Olmos appears as a newspaper editor. James Franco has an uncredited cameo in the film's opening scenes.

Now about that car: "Black Beauty" is a 1965 Chrysler Imperial Crown (the same as in the 1966-'67 TV show version), customized and modified with more spy geek gadgetry and firepower than James Bond's Aston Martin.

"The Green Hornet," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content; Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller; Run time: 1 hr., 59 min.; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The beginning portion of "The Green Hornet" end credits are rendered in comic book-inspired "Bang! Zoom! Pow!" Op-Art graphics.

Box Office, Jan. 14: "The Green Hornet" buzzed to No. 1, opening with $34 million; keeping "The Dilemma" at No. 2, opening with $17.4 million; and dropping "True Grit," after roping No. 1 for one week, to No. 3, with $11.2 million, and $126.4 million, four weeks.

4. "The King's Speech" continued its ascendancy to the throne, up from No. 8, with $9 million, $44.5 million, eight weeks; 5. "Black Swan" held steady, $8.1 million, $72.9 million, seven weeks; 6. "Little Fockers" fell from No. 2, $7.1 million, $134.2 million, four weeks; 7. "Tron: Legacy," $5.6 million, $156.9 million, five weeks; 8. "Yogi Bear," $5.4 million, $82.1 million, five weeks; 9. "The Fighter," dropped from No. 7, $5.1 million, $65.7 million, six weeks; 10. "Season of the Witch," $4.5 million, $17.9 million, two weeks

Unreel: Jan. 21:

"The Company Men," Rated R: Three businessmen (Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Joes) lose their jobs in the drama.

"No Strings Attached," Rated R: Ivan Reitman directs Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig and Cary Elwes in the relationship comedy.

Read previous movie reviews at Email Paul Willistein at: and on Facebook.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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