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Shock, Horror: Is The Green Hornet Actually Good?

For months, the Green Hornet movie has been the butt of jokes, concern and outright derision – But, if initial test screenings are to be believed, it might be the best superhero movie in a long time.

Almost from the time it was first announced, Sony’s Green Hornet movie has been plagued with bad press, whether it was the choice of star (Co-writer Seth Rogen, whom many feel wouldn’t be able to pull off being an action hero), director (Michel Gondry, who’s critically acclaimed for movies like Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind, but again, too offbeat for some – And, also, more importantly, not Stephen Chow, who was originally announced as director to the excitement of many movie fans, only to drop out over “creative differences”) or the continuing forward motion of the release date (Originally June 2010, then December 2010, and finally January 14th 2011). That initial shots from the movie, as well as the first trailer, seemed to provoke casual indifference more than excitement just compounded the buzz – This was a mess of a movie. Add in urban myth about people walking out during the movie’s trailer at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con, and the fix seemed to be in for The Green Hornet… until, apparently, this week.

According to the LA Times, the movie tested very well for an audience this week. Very, very well, in fact:

According to one of my spies who was on hand, after the ratings cards were tabulated, the movie had scored a 93 rating in what is known as the top two boxes (the percentage of people saying the film was either excellent or very good) with 83% of the moviegoers saying they would “definitely recommend” the film to their friends.

Suddenly, there are rumors that the January release date isn’t, as initially assumed, trying to hide the movie in the post-holiday rush, but instead giving the movie a chance to breathe, away from the Christmas blockbusters, and that all of the bad press and fan backlash will work in the movie’s favor, underplaying expectations in the same way that Red managed to escape the crush of anticipation that overwhelmed other comic movies like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World or even Iron Man 2.

I’m not convinced that it’s true; the trailer is interesting, but not necessarily great – a couple of nice moments don’t really make up for the surrounding “eh,” really – and this new take on things strikes me as a way for the publicists to save face as the movie ramps up for eventual release. But at the same time, I find that I really want the movie to be good, and to do well, and I can’t really explain why: Is it because I like Gondry’s other movies, and find Rogen to be an affable on-screen presence? Is it because I want the naysayers to be proven wrong for once? Or maybe I’m just a secret Hornet fan hoping for something better than his mid-60s television series. I’m extremely cynical that the movie will live up to the 93 rating – I’m doubtful that most movies could – but if this turns out to be not just not the disaster everyone has been expecting, but actually the surprise hit of the year? That’s be kind of great, it has to be said. Roll on 2011, and we’ll see if the Black Beauty isn’t the only sweet spot in the whole thing.


  • BRiAN

    Stephen Chow is not playing Kato.

  • mmeans68

    Nope, but I wish he were. I’ll go see it, but won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to be a blockbuster. I’m curious as to what sort of audience, exactly, this movie was ‘tested’ on….

  • Deanjsimons

    Kinda getting sick of “Best superhero movie in a long time”

    We’ve had some fantastic jobs lately – Iron Man, Spider-man (1 and 2), X-Men (excluding 3), Batman/Dark Knight, Kick Ass

    So by long time are we referring to “best superhero movie in the last 8 months”?

    And that is discounting the fact that no superpowers are involved.

  • yomama

    Actors dont fit the movie!! what a waste!!

  • Zach

    You mean the knee-jerk reaction of scifi fans to a movie that they haven’t seen ISN’T generally reliable?


  • Dbratt

    I was in San Diego. And I was there for the Green Hornet panel/whatever you want to call it. It’s not myth. People were definitely walking out. It was brutal.

  • knightoftomorrow

    I saw the trailer before a movie. There is one reason, and one reason only, that I would even remotely want to see this movie. And that is Kato. It’s kind of sad that the sidekick character appears to be infinitely cooler than the main character. I don’t particularly care for Seth Rogan, I’ve found him to be vastly over rated.

  • Anonymous

    Green Hornet is a hard sell. It’s not a concept that was ever extremely popular, except for Bruce Lee’s role in the television series. It could be the best movie ever, but still have to fight to find an audience. The fact that it screened well is semi-promising. Guess we’ll see!

  • Sept_28_2003

    You do know what morons make up most test screening audiences?

  • nik

    You are also aware of morons who judge movies before they’re even out?

  • filmaticman

    #1. Why all the fuss of Rogen as the Green Hornet? Isn’t the Bruce Lee/ Kato roll the one anyone remembers? Rogen can only make the Green Hornet Roll better!

    #2. Since when does it matter who plays what in a movie? Michael Keaton – Batman, Toby Mag – Spiderman? Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible, Robert Downey – Iron Man… I could go on and on…..ALL WERE QUESTIONABLE by the hordes of nerdites.

    #3. What is it with people that can be so negative about a movie before it comes out?? You have to feel bad for these people that are unable to find the enjoyment and excitement of the film experience.

  • Jack

    I hope the movie is good, for no other reason than I like good movies more than bad ones. I have absolutely no investment in the Green Hornet character or mythos, but I like Seth Rogen & Christoph Waltz, & want to see them in quality, successful movies.

    I agree with the posters who warn against rushing to judgment. Of course, though people can’t judge a movie that they haven’t seen, they are 100% justified to criticize the footage that has been released. Trailers & previews are important. If someone says you cannot say anything critical until after you’ve seen the whole movie–and thus already paid for your ticket–he or she has conceded to the studios. They don’t care if you decide their movie is crappy or not after viewing, because they already have your money. If nothing else, studios should learn to produce trailers that accurately suggest the tone, style, & basic plot points of the movie.

    Of course, what I think is really worth questioning in the whole premise of this piece. I suppose it’s noteworthy that a movie with negative buzz is getting good test screening ratings, but–let’s clear our heads here–since when do “focus groups” & viewer “report cards” tell us anything meaningful about the quality of a film? Maybe I’m an old-fashioned “elitist” snob, but I still hold to the conviction that ratings, “test audiences,” first weekend box offices, etc have pretty much zero connection to quality. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend (not just in comics, but all media–particularly popular media like TV & film) in which the values of the financier have become the values of the critic. Reviewers refer to artistic creation as “content,” consider creative work’s popular appeal, equate financial success with artistic success, etc. Bottom line, Green Hornet may or may not be a good movie, but the result’s of a test audience’s customer satisfaction survey do little to help our determination.

  • Alex Dragon

    I thought the preview I saw looked interesting and entertaining. Most of the bad press and reactions from fans this movie is getting has to do with one thing: This movie doesn’t look like it’s taking itself so seriously. That’s all it’s boiling down to. With Rogen in the lead role and scenes in the previews played for laughs many fans are turned off by that because they think superhero movies must be serious. When they see superhero movies not taking themselves seriously the have BATMAN AND ROBIN flashbacks.

    But the think is that there’s room for serious, funny, scary and all types of superhero stuff as long as it’s well written and well done. Non-comicbook fans don’t care about the movie being deadly serious or even slavishly sticking to the source material, all they want is an entertaining movie. I have to imagine most of the audience at the test screening didn’t have preconceived notions of what the movie was supposed to be and accepted it for what it was trying to do.

  • Sageshinigami

    Agreed. I mean, what’s “a long time”? Two years? ‘Cause The Dark Knight is only two years old.

  • Mwedmer

    The only people that were claiming the movie would fail are people who can only see Rogan as the fat funny schlub that smokes weed.
    Observe and Report should have given a slightly different opinion to those people though because that film was not so much a comedy as it was a film about a guy with serious mental issues who sometimes did funny or frightening things.

    Also Pineapple express had him in a good fight scene with Gary Cole.

    Green Hornet will rock.

  • BB

    The trailer was bad because it gave the impression this movie is leaning toward comedy. Kato looks good, but the Hornet, even after the serious walk up call early on comes on like a clown. For the poster who said that Kato is the most important part in this film, true! But Van Willams was a great Green Hornet. Who knows, maybe the trailer was poorly put together. Still, after the first day reviews this movie will either sink or swim. It won’t take long.

  • Zen Strive

    Well, this could bode well for another green superheroes: Lantern, Arrow, and probably Robin :)

  • mmeans68

    Totally agree. I thought Van Williams was an excellent Brit Reid and was believable as someone who would don a mask and fight crime. The Seth Rogan (who is one of the least funniest people in the business, imo) Reid looks like someone who couldn’t fight a cold. I’m really disappointed in this casting and, while I don’t mind -some- laughs in a Green Hornet movie, I don’t think that should be the focus.

    And, for the people trashing everyone who’s badmouthing the movie before they even see it, look at it this way. If Hollywood wants to keep cashing in on the built in audience they have with a lot of these “old properties” they have….they can, at least, try to be a little true to them.

  • oy

    Pass…i’ll wait for DVD.

  • Gerryf19

    Personally, I am hoping for–and kind of expect–something along the vein of Hellboy. I had zero expectations of Hellboy and was pleasantly surprised when it came out. It was funny, had action, and was even poignent.

  • AirDave

    Michael Keaton is no Christian Bale – and very few actors can measure up to the bar Christopher Reeve set in tights – but I seem to remember a lot of nay-sayers of Keaton’s Batman – and even a little head-scratching at Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. I’d like to believe that Seth Rogen – or anyone – can pull off a decent Green Hornet film.

  • E. Travis

    I hope the movie is good. But I’m not going to the theaters to see it. Unfairly judgmental, maybe, but here’s my problem: I don’t see any reason /to/ see it.

    I’m not invested in the Green Hornet as a character. I’ve seen enough kicky-punchy movies over the last few years that I’m no longer drawn in solely by well-done fights. In the wake of two Iron Man moviese and two Batman movies, I’m not exactly jonesing for an ‘irresponsible playboy finds purpose in beating up bad guys’ story.

    I have zero feelings about Seth Rogen. None. I neither like nor dislike him. He’s there, and I just don’t care either way. The first trailer did absolutely nothing to make me believe there’s anything to the movie beyond a by-the-numbers origin story, with ‘Apatow-lite’ comedy and now-mundane effects.

    Long story short (too late), there are movies I eagerly anticipate seeing, and there are movies whose trailers pique my curiosity and interest. Then there are the other several hundred movies every year which come and go, and leave no imprint on me whatsoever. Unless something significantly changes in a trailer in the next month or so, this seems likely to be in that last category.

  • Mer

    Meh. Count me unconvinced, though I can’t stand Jay Chou, so I’m probably biased the same way the anti-Rogen crowd is. It’s just that I’ve seen three of his movies but no evidence to date that the kid can act in Chinese, much less in quickly-learned English.

  • Rob

    Saw a test screening last night. Audience response was very positive – lots of laughter, attention kept etc. Personally scored it “excellent” and “would definitely recommend” but then I like Gondry, Rogen and campy superhero movies.

    It’s a very different beast to Spider-Man, that’s for sure. Very little (obvious) cgi, lots of actual fight scenes, plenty of slapstick…

  • Rmansperger

    saw the trailer today. looks like Seth Rogan being Seth Rogan once again… only this time he dresses as The Green Hornet. Can’t say this looks good at all.

  • Ed S

    I’ve seen the trailer of this movie and it’s by far the worst movie of the year, and the year hasn’t even started. They pull some ass clown in to play the part of Britt Reid, I mean this guy is filthy looking unshaven and is not even good looking. The movie is played out as a spoof and shouldn’t be given any credits to the title “The Green Hornet” Sony I can tell is only in this for the money, and didn’t even really check out the script. Bad job to all of you, and especially the director for not catching any of the terrible acting.

  • Ed S

    You are so right in what you say about Hollywood being true to the remakes. This is really the only thing the people are asking for, and nothing else.

  • Margarita_felix

    The truth? I was kind of ‘forced’ to watch it. Haha. The trailer left me thinking… ‘Uhh… right.’ “Seth? I do hope you know what you are doing.” So there I was, sitting in the dimmed theater, anticipating total boredom, yet I couldn’t help but start ‘liking’ it. Or empathize with his embarrassing antics, laugh with his ridiculous lines. And, yep, the action scenes were actually good, Heh. Seth has a weird way of worming himself into your heart, so to speak. In short, I wanted him to ‘succeed’, his character, and yes, his movie.