On January 31, 1936 George W. Trendle and Fran Striker brought their new radio superhero to the radio airwaves with “The Green Hornet”. Seeking to capitalize on the success of their other creation, “The Lone Ranger” the duo brought his story from the old west into the present of the 1930′s and thus “The Green Hornet” was born. Britt Reid, owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel is The Green Hornet and Kato, his faithful valet is his crime fighting partner. Together they ride in sleek, streamlined, super-powered car The Black Beauty named because the car was kept in the abandoned barn next to Reid’s home.
The radio announcer told the listeners every week that, ” The Green Hornet “hunts the biggest of all game … public enemies who try to destroy our America.” In an effort to defeat these racketeers who had infiltrated insurance companies, construction, all types of legitimate business even the milk industry The Green Hornet, though on the side of the law, was treated as a masked vigilante and was considered worse than the criminals he hunted. Police Commissioner James Higgins was a confidante within the law enforcement community who lived in fear that one day he would have to put away his best friend. This series ran until 12/5/1952.
In 1966, for one season, ABC brought The Green Hornet” to television with Van Williams as The Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato. To avoid comparison with Batman Reid’s confidante within the law enforcement community was changed to District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon. Once again The Hornet has a super charged car with rockets, cannons and a personal satellite. And once again the duo are fighting racketeers in all manners of business including the milk industry. The show was well done and both Van Williams and Bruce Lee played their characters, as the radio show did similarly, as alpha males who were in charge of what they did, knew more than the criminals and believed they were right.
With this rich history behind them I am extremely disappointed that the new movie, “The Green Hornet” made very little use of it. Seth Rogen, who co-wrote the script, plays Britt Reid, alias The Green Hornet, not as a take charge alpha male who knows what he is doing but as an idiot who knows nothing, likes to party and who has no idea of what is going on. Jay Chou plays Kato, he knows slightly more than Reid and is the protector of the two and the designer of the weaponry. However both of them have to rely on the knowledge of the new secretary, Lenore Case played by Cameron Diaz as she has a major in criminology. Michel Gondry does a good job as director but he plays up Kato’s role over that of The Hornet, who is the title character and then the car is played up over both of them.
Be warned this film is being marketed as a superhero comedy film. They are not heroes here. Fighting bad guys just because they want a rush does not make them heroes. It also is extremely violent. The last forty-five minutes of this film is non-stop violence, others may call what happens action, in reality it is violence and not suited for kids. Finally, and I have to offer a spoiler alert here, District Attorney Scanlon, who was Reid’s legal help in the TV series is a bad guy in this movie. It seems what the creative team of this movie did was to take the names of the characters in the series and turn them to their own devices.
As a fan of both the radio series and the television series I went into this movie with great expectation. I was sorely disappointed! Perhaps if they had called it The Rotten Tomato and changed all the characters names it would have been better. Alas, we will never know. I do not recommend this movie!
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