Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stirring the Hornet's Nest

As a film property, the Green Hornet has been bouncing around the development slate for so long now that whatever pop culture cache the character may have had (from his popular 1930s radio show, but more likely thanks to the late Bruce Lee's role as sidekick "Kato" on the short-lived '60s TV series) has long since gone away.  The Hornet is now in the same position as The Shadow, or Doc Savage.  Yes, the names may be familiar to a few, but for most general audiences, they're an almost-total blank slate.  Even for me, I have a very basic familiarity with the character and concept, and that's about it.

Thus, after rights-holder Columbia spent more than a decade flirting with everyone from George Clooney to Greg Kinnear to play the lead in their Green Hornet feature film, the idea of casting Seth Rogen who, let's be honest, doesn't exactly exhude "superhero," as the millionaire-turned-vigilante was either a masterstroke of expectation management, or a desperate bid to give the property some currency.  Adding Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to the mix as director is, again, one of those decisions that will either be lauded for its brilliance or derided for its boneheadedness, and either way it'll be in hindsight.

Hornet was supposed to see release this summer, but has been pushed back to January to convert the already-finished film to 3D.  Either that's a positive assessment of the movie's wide appeal, or a desperate bid to make some extra bucks off an apparent turkey.  I get no clues from the just-released first trailer, which isn't that bad for what it is.  My initial read is that Rogen really did get into shape for the part, and appears to be playing it (somewhat) straight.  The tone of the sell seems a bit schizophrenic though, as if the studio hasn't quite figured out if it's an action movie with comedy, or a comedy with action in it.  I'm willing to give it a shot, but I'm genuinely curious what the postgame on this one will be.

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