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Reviews: ‘Green Hornet’, more

By Staff | Jan 26, 2011

The Green Hornet

For some inane reason a masked man with a kung fu sidekick evoked solid and serious crime fighting adventures in the 30s and 40s, but for the 60s and 70s and 2010, it’s a semi-campy game.

Radio’s “Green Hornet,” like his fellow crime fighter, “The Shadow.” both had an aura of vigilante. It’s a similar scenario that introduced Batman and countless other power gifted dudes.

The 3D re-invention has its eyes on the brief campy television series that introduced Bruce Lee as Kato. Publishing heir Brit Reid has a rebellious trust fund guaranteed playboy persona still searching for a day job that has as much satisfaction as one night stands.

Reid (Seth Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou), gifted at martial arts and mechanics, do the first portion in Judd Apatow-style college life celebration mode. Instead of “let’s party,” it’s “let’s beat up a few drug dealers”. The Apatow attitude is ingrained in Hornet’s star Rogen, who played Zack in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” as well as headlined “Funny People,” “Pineapple Express,” “Fanboys” and “Step Brothers.” More familiar with comedic trashing than dramatic tension, Rogen can’t shed the glib imagery, even as he feebly drifts toward a serious demeanor.

The second act abandons the “Father Does Not Know Best” motivation and turns up the smashing, exploding and vehicles-traveling-through-windows quota. Most viewers don’t forget the extreme-adventure-minus-plan premise bringing bruises, pain and ego slumps which the duo had captured to near perfection.

Add those bright comic book panel insertions (like the TV series) and you’ll likely not suspend disbelief when the two do the “take this seriously” routine.

Having overheard a few youthful “awesomes” in the audience, the majority absorb a seriously (but not fatally) flawed well -ntentioned action/adventure, which elaborate visuals cannot repair. The Hornet’s 21st Century “revival” is mixed, at best, and likely a one time outing.

Little Fockers

Warm and fuzzy flicks about happy but humorous or eclectic celebrations tend to enter the marketplace annually. The choice(s) usually rest a notch or two down from Disney, utterly family-friendly, opting for dysfunctional gatherings that succeed or fail on the strengths of the wacky personalities and hilarity (or lack thereof) surrounding the exaggerated situations.

“Little Fockers” has obsessed retired spy (Robert DeNiro) knocked off his nastiness perch by a mild heart attack. The brush with mortality stunts the world’s worst father-in-law, who bobbles his binoculars. With DeNiro not his usual off-the-wall crazy self, the tone transfers to the complete production — what was once so absurd it was hilarious (“Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers”) now wanes.

A conversational response in the film becomes metaphor– after women marry and have children, their love life diminishes. The post-heart attack DeNiro has put aside most of the ridiculously framed ultimate in-law interfering in the lives of grown children. His crusade to replace himself leaves too many unresolved character interactions. In short, this “Focker” stumbles short of its predecessors.

Black Swan

As string instruments pour out soft, smooth, classical styling’s punctuated by the LOUD fast forwards and resounding beats from oboes and drums, “The Black Swan” encapsulates a smorgasbord of emotions. Competitiveness and cheating for top billing on stage dominates as Natalie Portman plays a stressed ingenue plunging both in life and on stage into the dark side.

Incorporating star struck abuse endurance into the spotlight, “Swan” explores both subtle and dramatic self mutations of thy vessel (body) for depicting the line in the sand that normally separates the ‘character’ from the ‘actor.’