"The Green Hornet" is what happens when smart people set out to make a dumb movie.
This hipper-than-thou would-be comedy can't decide if it wants to be a spoof of a super hero movie, or on homage to one. Director Michel Gondry and star Seth Rogen, who co-wrote the screenplay with Evan Goldberg, mock the conventions of the genre while indulging in them.
Interestingly, the Green Hornet -- who's best known to younger generations for a 1960s TV show co-starring Bruce Lee -- is one of the few costumed crusaders who didn't originate in a comic book. He started out as the star of a serial radio show in the '30s, followed by some cheapie movies, and only then did he show up in comics form.
Rogen plays Britt Reid, a petulant playboy and heir to a Los Angeles newspaper fortune. When his father dies mysteriously, he learns that the family mechanic Kato (Jay Chou) secretly built daddy an arsenal of weapons and gadgets, including a tricked-out 1965 Chrysler Imperial dubbed Black Beauty.
They decide to fight crime, but pose as criminals in order to infiltrate the underworld led by kingpin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), who frets about his drab image.
Gondry ladles on the slo-mo fight scenes and cool stuff like the Green Hornet's sleeping-gas gun -- which makes up for Britt's decided lack of combat prowess. The running joke of the movie is that despite being the sidekick, Kato is the real muscle, and brains, of the outfit.
There's one or two really good laughs, but mostly "The Green Hornet" fails to sting, either as a super-hero flick or a send-up of one.
Video extras are pretty good, especially if you upgrade to the Blu-ray version.
The DVD edition is still decently stocked, with a feature-length commentary track by the filmmakers, gag reel and two featurettes on the writing of the screenplay and rebirth of Black Beauty.
The Blu-ray adds deleted scenes, several more featurettes and a couple of Easter Eggs, including Chou's addition tape.
Go for the 3-D Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and you'll also get animated storyboard comparisons.
Movie: 1.5 stars out of four