Kam On Film: ‘The Green Hornet,’ ‘Piranha’ DVD And More!

Kam On Film: ‘The Green Hornet,’ ‘Piranha’ DVD And More!

—by , January 19, 2011

The Green Hornet

Columbia Pictures

Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexuality and drug use.

Classic Comic Book Series Revived As Irreverent Buddy Flick

When you hear that The Green Hornet is coming to the big screen, it’s reasonable to anticipate a typical superhero adventure akin to Batman, The Hulk, Superman, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider Man, Iron Man and so many others of classic comic book lore. That is, until you also learn that this picture stars Seth Rogen, the standup-comic-turned-actor best known for cutting-up in irreverent teensploitation flicks such as Superbad and Knocked Up.

Since his pudgy physique and homely demeanor don’t exactly conjure up visions of a macho, leading man, he undertook the challenge of overhauling the Green Hornet’s persona. With the help of his longtime screenwriting collaborator, Evan Goldberg, Rogen reimagined the title character as the sort of sarcastic, trash-talking slacker he usually plays, as opposed to the selfless, suave protagonist found in the original source material. Otherwise, the storyline remains fairly faithful to the ‘30s radio serial and subsequent comic books.

Just past the point of departure, profligate playboy Britt Reid (Rogen) learns that his emotionally-estranged dad (Tom Wilkinson) has died under mysterious circumstances, ostensibly from an allergic reaction to a bee sting. The decadent bachelor fires most of his father’s staff at the mansion, and reluctantly assumes the reins of the media empire, including the local paper, The Los Angeles Sentinel. More importantly, he decides, to pursue his passion afterhours; namely, roaming the streets at night as a crime-fighting vigilante.

To this end, he enlists the assistance of his loyal manservant, Kato (Jay Chou), who not only knows how to brew a mean cup of coffee, but just happens to be a crack inventor, auto mechanic, chauffeur and martial arts expert all rolled into one. Donning masks to morph into their alter egos, the Green Hornet and his sidekick proceed to patrol L.A. in the Black Beauty, a bulletproof car outfitted with munitions ranging from machine guns to missiles to shotguns to flamethrowers.

A diabolical archenemy soon emerges in bloodthirsty Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), a Russian mobster who has cornered the drug market with the help of a crooked District Attorney (David Harbour). When not battling bad guys, Britt and Kato find themselves competing for the affections of Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), a secretary at the Sentinel with a degree in criminology.

But don’t let the straightforward-sounding plot fool you, for its execution is decidedly underwhelming. The problems with The Green Hornet are plentiful, starting with the fact that Britt Reid is an unlikable lout who can’t fight and you don’t really want to root for. He’s easily eclipsed by Kato who always miraculously surfaces to save the day.

As for the performances, Seth Rogen is upstaged at every turn by his talented co-star, Taiwanese actor/singing sensation Jay Chou, who makes an impressive English-language debut as the acrobatic Kato. Worse, the two never generate any chemistry, a big failing given that this flawed buddy flick frequently feels like a cheap imitation of the Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan trilogy which so naturally oozed an endearing sense of camaraderie.

The un-Rush Hour!

Fair.

108 Minutes.

Piranha

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Rated R for sexuality, profanity, graphic nudity, teen alcohol consumption, gratuitous violence and gore, crude humor and drug use.

DVD Features Man-Eating Fish Attacking Teens On Spring Break

This campy B-flick is the best offering from the tongue-in-cheek horror genre since Snakes On A Plane, another gratuitous gore fest with a good sense of humor. But its plot reads more like Jaws, given that the story unfolds in a resort town at the height of the tourist season.

It’s Spring Break, and thousands of college students have descended on fictional Lake Victoria in Arizona for a little fun in the sun and the water. And it falls to Sheriff Forester (Elisabeth Shue) and her beefy deputy dog (Ving Rhames) to keep the kids under control, although they are only anticipating having to deal with disorderly person issues like public intoxication.

Their primary adversary in this regard is Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), the sleazy producer of a string of titillating Girls Gone Wild-style videos. The dirty old man has arrived on location with a camera crew ready to stage wet T-shirt contests and to coax soused coeds to take off their bikini tops.

However, unusual seismic activity in the midst of the debauchery creates a fissure under the lake which leads to the mysterious death of an unsuspecting fisherman (Richard Dreyfuss). Against their better judgment, the cops never close the beaches, even ignoring the dire warnings of an alarmed scientist (Christopher Lloyd) out of fear that mass hysteria might be bad for the local businesses.

Beware, Hell hath no fury like a school of starving, teen-eating piranhas!

Excellent.

Running time: 88 Minutes

DVD Extras: Director’s commentary.

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

For movies opening January 21, 2011

BIG BUDGET FILMS

The Company Men (R for profanity and brief nudity). Downsizing drama about the fallout visited upon a trio of fired corporate executives (Academy Award-winners Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones) and their families following a restructuring by a conglomerate as a cost-cutting measure. With Maria Bello, Craig T. Nelson and Oscar-winner Kevin Costner.

No Strings Attached (R for sexuality, profanity and drug use). Romantic comedy in reverse about a couple of ”friends with benefits,” (Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) who first agree to a strictly physical relationship only to find themselves subsequently developing deep feelings for each other. Ensemble includes Kevin Kline, Ludacris, Cary Elwes, Greta Gerwig and Olivia Thirlby.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Applause (R for profanity). Redemption drama about the attempt of a substance-abusing actress (Paprika Steen), fresh out of rehab, to regain custody of her sons (Noel Koch-Sofeldt and Otto Leonardo Steen Rieks) from her skeptical ex-husband (Michael Falch). (In Danish with subtitles.)

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (Unrated). Japanese Anime sequel finds the paramilitary organization NERV making a valiant stand as the last hope of humanity in a showdown of Biblical proportions with the evil, immortal Angels. Voice cast includes Spike Spencer, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Brina Palencia.

Gabi On The Roof In July (Unrated). Romantic comedy about a profligate, aspiring artist (Lawrence Michael Levine) forced to rethink his wanton, womanizing ways when his college-age, younger sister (Sophia Takal) moves into his apartment for the summer in the wake of their parents’ divorce. With Lena Dunham, Amy Seimetz and Robert White.

The Housemaid (Unrated). Erotic remake of the classic Korean thriller about a rich man (Jung-Jae Lee) who embarks on an ill-fated affair with the nanny (Do-Yeon Jeon) recently hired to babysit his daughter, (Seo-Hyeon Ahn) because his wife (Seo Woo) is pregnant with twins. (In Korean with subtitles.)

Johnny Mad Dog (Unrated). Liberian Civil War Saga, set in 2003, recounting the rape, pillaging and other atrocities committed by an army of child soldiers during their march to the country’s capital, Monrovia. Cast includes Teddy Boy, Galaxy Chea and Prince Doblah.

Mumbai Diaries (Unrated). Serendipitous drama, set during the Monsoon season, about four strangers whose lives intertwine by chance, with the quartet being comprised of a Hindu-American banker (Monica Dogra), a reclusive artist (Aamir Khan), an ambitious laundry boy (Prateik Babbar) and a recently-married Muslim girl (Kriti Malhotra). (In Hindi with subtitles.)

The Woodmans (Unrated). Overwhelming regret biopic revisits the abbreviated career of the late photographer Francesca Woodman via wistful reflections by her painter/photographer father, her potter mother and electronic artist brother as they still struggle to come to grips with her suicide 30 years ago at the tender age of 22.

Zenith (Unrated). Futuristic, sci-fi thriller revolving around a pair of parallel plots set 40 years apart, one, revolving around a father (Jason Robards, III), the other, around his son (Peter Scanavino), as they try to crack the same conspiracy. With Ana Asensio, Zohra Lampert and Didier Flamand.

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