Whenever a project is this delayed, usually we get something like The Wolfman: full of ideas, style and potential but ultimately a mess which just doesn't work. And although The Green Hornet is a bit of a mess at times, I'm happy to report that most of it actually does work.
Most of it.
The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of film perfectly as James Franco's petty gangster taunts main villain Christoph Waltz until, of course, the latter snaps. The jokes come thick and fast, the feel is playful, silly and fun. Then we meet Seth Rogen's Billionaire jerk, a character who is dangerously close to being entirely dislikable but Rogen just about keeps him afloat. Things get interesting when he meets Jay Chou's Kato and although the latter's English isn't exactly perfect, he is as cool as it gets and pulls off Bruce Lee's old character brilliantly. The pair work well together and make a good anti-hero duo. Cue awesome car, wacky gadgets, exciting action scenes, lots of jokes (some hit-and-miss, mostly hit) and lots of good old-fashioned alternative superhero entertainment. Sadly the 3D adds little except some gorgeous closing titles even if some of the action admittedly benefits from it.
What lets the film down is a busy third act, a few too many tongue-in-cheek winks and, most of all, Cameron Diaz who is blatantly miscast here in a role which should have been given to someone a tad younger and perhaps less high-profile. Her scenes (and romantic subplot) feel tacked-on at the last minute and her "comedy" moments are near unbearable, which is a shame. Thankfully, Waltz is as glorious as ever and his clueless villain Chudnofsky is a delight so Diaz thankfully doesn't quite ruin it for everyone. Director Michel Gondry does well here and slowly climbs back up the hill after clunky outing Be Kind Rewind. Not that Green Hornet isn't a tad clunky but at the very least it is entertaining from start to finish. It's a shame he didn't channel more of the 70's style which made the original series as charming as it was and we could have done with more of the actual Green Hornet theme but on the whole this was not a bad effort.
Of course, no-one was ever going to beat Bruce Lee as Kato and even the people involved in the project prior to Gondry (Kevin Smith, Stephen Chow) could not have imitated the look and feel of the original series perfectly but following the harsh critical reception I was expecting a disaster and what I got was a fun ride.
Check it out.