Welcome to the first in an ongoing series of articles entitled “In Defence Of…”. Each week one of the Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second team will speak up on behalf of a much maligned film, actor or director. This week, I’m taking a look at Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet.
Away from the overwhelming negative reaction upon its theatrical release The Green Hornet is a surprisingly enjoyable piece of mainstream American cinema. As a devout anti-fan of star Seth Rogen I never imagined that I would have such a reaction to a film which looked, from the promotional material at least, to be little more than an ill-judged vehicle for a figure completely unsuitable for the role of a superhero. Likewise with the choice of director, Michel Gondry, who, upon being deemed as one of the great independent voices in mainstream cinema, appeared to be slumming it in a work that had been drawn together from ten years worth of studio to-ing and fro-ing, in turn producing a film barely recognisable from that particularly distinctive directors usual work.
I was wrong.
In a year thus far notable for some genuine terrible pieces of blockbuster “entertainment” it was with great surprise that The Green Hornet impressed. I found it to be hugely entertaining, genuinely funny and surprisingly inventive.
As mentioned above, as a fan of Michel Gondry I, like many, if the ill-tempered “Voice Of The Internet” is to be believed, couldn’t help but feel bitterly disappointed when he became attached the project, but fear not, for his mark can definitely be felt upon the film. An incredibly ambitious sequence involving the use of numberous split screens, each one diverted from the last is perhaps the most notable Gondry-ism, with the director perfecting the technique during the time he spent predominantly producing music videos in the 1990’s, with the promo for Cibo Matto ‘Sugar Water’ Gondry’s most notable use of split screen technique. Similarly, much of Gondry can be seen in the overt mechanical props littered throughout the film, and Britt Reid’s A Clockwork Orange inspired opening romp through his fathers garage.
As noted in my review of Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass last year, the current wave of superhero flicks rests upon one major laurel; the theme of escalation. This was addressed most explicitly in the closing moments of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, with the notion that such was the relationship between good and bad, that they were forever intertwined, with each one matching the other in stakes as time progresses. The theme is addressed here too, and handled really nicely. While not hugely different to Vaughn’s film, the manner in which the rise of the super-villain is portrayed is genuinely effective, thanks to the logic that on-screen decisions are led by.
Similarly, the manner in which the very concept of the superhero sidekick is deconstructed is truly interesting. By exposing the politics and the psychological backbone of the superhero/sidekick dynamic, Gondry, Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg have introduced a genuinely original slant to a somewhat tired genre.
If you would like to contribute a piece on a film, an actor or director for a future “In Defence Of…” then please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org