If you had told me this time last year that I would end up enjoying the Seth Rogan-starring Green Hornet more than the long-awaited live-action debut of Green Lantern, I would have thought you were crazy. In fact, at first I wondered if my decision to finally watch Green Hornet so soon after also seeing Green Lantern was some sort of madness. And yet, here we are – with me about to tell you why I kind of really dug this movie.

Now, granted, part of it might be that I DON”T have any real sort of affinity for the Green Hornet character, not in the same way I do for Green Lantern. If I was obsessed with the old radio serials and classic TV show, it’s possible I’d be a little upset over seeing it transformed into such a comedic take on the superhero genre. Sure, I’ve enjoyed watching the old Green Hornet re-runs on TV from time to time, but overall I was ready to approach this movie with a completely open mind regarding the character and the film’s approach.

Plus, I still like Seth Rogan. While I wasn’t the biggest Knocked Up fan in the world, I’ve enjoyed most of his other work. One thing about Green Hornet is that I was legitimately intrigued to see him try something like this. I know a lot of people wrote it off almost immediately after hearing about it – but then, a lot of people thought Michael Keaton was going to be a shitty Batman, too.

So here’s what I have to say about Green Hornet – it was fun. I realize that might sound sort of simplistic, but what can I say. To me, it was fun in a way that Green Lantern never was. Again, this might have to do with my indifference towards the source material. Green Lantern tried to lighten up the tone of its material, to the detriment of the film, I think. And yet here we have a movie that never really takes itself that seriously, and I enjoyed it. I’m weird like that.

Although, it should be said, I actually think it works better in Green Hornet because the movie knows what kind of tone it is going for. It’s not an awkward mish-mash like other comic-book movies I’ve seen, that often awkwardly turn on a dime from deadly serious to over-the-top goofy. Green Hornet just decides to have fun the whole time, and that makes it a little easier to forgive its faults.

And it DOES have faults. For one, it’s about twenty minutes too long. Also – and I realize this goes just a little against what I was just saying – but I think Rogan should have cut back on the jokes just a little bit whenever he was actually the Green Hornet. It’s fine when he’s Britt Reid, and his hilarious banter with Kato during their non-superhero time is the highlight of the film. But I would have liked to have seen the wisecracks toned down some whenever they’re actually in action, as it would have made those sequences feel a little more substantial and important. And the movie definitely could have used a lot more of Christoph Waltz, who is pretty awesome in the scenes he does have, as the city’s number #1 gangster, now worried he is not as scary as he once was and obsessed with trying to be as theatrical as this new Green Hornet character.

My only other complaint is that, in a visual sense, this is a pretty disappointing film from director Michel Gondry. It always seemed odd that he was doing this film in the first place, but I started to get excited about it the more I thought about it, thinking he would bring all sorts of cool imagery to the superhero genre. For awhile I thought I was right, as the early Kato fight scenes are filmed in what I’ll dub “Kato-vision,” which you can see a bit of in that trailer above. But then, for some reason, the movie just sort of forgets about that, and becomes a lot more generic looking in its second half.

Still, overall, I liked this movie. I think what I liked most WAS the idea of two guys deciding to be superheroes not only out of a desire to do good, but mostly because it just seems like a really fun thing to do for them. Most superhero films act like the main character’s powers and responsibilities are such a heavy burden. This one felt more like Tony Stark in Iron Man, with a guy who just seems to really enjoy being able to do all this stuff, even to the point of getting a little too overzealous about it at times. Again, maybe it wasn’t entirely appropriate to choose a pre-existing character to explore that kind of idea, but it DOES make for a unique spin on the superhero film. Seth Rogan always said the tone he was going for was the classic action-comedies of the 80s. I can see what he means, and I thought it worked most of the time. If there’s ever a sequel, I’d still like to see him treat the Hornet persona with just a little more gravitas, but overall, I think they did a fairly decent job with this one. It’s possible I liked Green Hornet more just because I saw it so soon after the bad experience of a superhero movie that I really was looking forward to and was disappointed in, but who cares – all that matters in the end is that I DID like it. This one was a pleasant surprise.

This review was originally posted at Trevor Likes Movies on June 23rd, 2011.

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