People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
  Green Hornet finds its Kato; G.I. Joe is rad

Longtime readers know I’m a comic book geek, and superhero movies always get my attention. One of the more curious movies in the pipeline (and it’s been in the pipelinAn old guy as the Green Hornete for quite some time now) is Columbia’s big-screen version of The Green Hornet, starring and co-scripted by Seth Rogen, and helmed by Michel Gondry. Before Gondry signed on to direct, Hong Kong actor/director/comedian Stephen Chow was going to be behind the camera, and also playing the Green Hornet’s sidekick, Kato (this news excited the hell out of me, as I think Chow’s Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle are modern classics). Then Gondry came on board, and Chow was relegated to just acting. And then nobody heard anything for a while, until Comic-Con last month, where it was revealed that the production was seeking a new Kato, confirming rumors that Chow was totally gone from the project. (Comic-Con also saw the confirmation that Nicolas Cage would play the villain and Cameron Diaz will be Rogen’s love interest.)

Now Columbia has found its Kato in Taiwanese pop star/actor Jay Chou. Chou’s very big in Asia, starring in the 2005 Hong Kong adaptation of the Japanese comic and anime street-racing series, Initial D, which was a huge hit in China. While I’m still sort of bummed by Chow’s exit, Chou’s casting at the very least confirms that this movie will get made. The only thing I’ve seen Chou in myself is Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower (one of the most gorgeous movies I’ve ever seen; there isn’t a shot in that film I wouldn’t hang on my wall as a poster), and he was decent, if a bit stiff, in that. But he's saying all the right things so far, like that he's not going to try to ape Bruce Lee (wise decision).

The thing that’s still sort of blowing my mind about this Green Hornet movie is Michel Gondry. He’s definitely one of the most visually unique directors out there, having gotten his start making some of the coolest music videos I’ve ever seen (he did the White Stripes’ breakout Lego-themed video for “Fell In Love With A Girl” as well as some great clips for Björk, the Chemical Brothers and the Foo Fighters). He also directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of the most mind-crushingly awesome movies of the past decade, before disappointing me (and a great many others) with Be Kind Rewind (check out my DVD review here). He proved with the concert film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party that he can, in fact, make a pretty straightforward film, although that was a documentary. I’m assuming he won’t fill Green Hornet with bizarre dream imagery (one of his specialties; he's remarkably good at it), and his best films have been the ones where he’s working off of someone else’s script, so that also bodes well. And I’m getting the feeling Columbia/Sony has high expectations for The Green Hornet next summer, so I doubt they’ll let Gondry get too nuts with it. That said, I just rewatched a DVD collection of Gondry’s music videos (they’re pretty much all amazing for one reason or another), and I’m very, very interested to see what his Green Hornet is like. I'm sure one way or another it will be unlike any other movie of this kind we've seen so far.


Like an apparently large number of people, I caught G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra last weekend and I was surprised at how much fun it was. If you’d told me four months ago that of Paramount’s two toy-related franchise flicks, G.I. Joe would be better than Michael Bay’s Transformers sequel, I would have called you crazy, but…here we are. I had pretty low expectations going in (aside from a couple of pretty positive website reviews that came out a few days before its release), so that may have been a factor. But I had a riot from beginning to end. It was surprisingly violent (heads are blown off; several people get stabbed in the eye), and it found the perfect balance of being just ridiculous enough to be fun without insulting the viewer’s intelligence. I still can’t get over the fact that the two best big summer blockbusters were the two I was most skeptical about going in, Star Trek and G.I. Joe. The world of movies can be a strange place.

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