January 24, 2011

Dirty Cinephiles: The Green Hornet and The King’s Speech

Esa Keltamaki
Copy Editor

The Green Hornet (8.5/10)

As someone who watched the original Green Hornet series, I went into Seth Rogen’s latest blockbuster with certain expectations. Could Jay Chou walk in Bruce Lee’s shoes?

The Green Hornet chronicles the lives of rich playboy Britt Reid (Rogen) and his multifaceted friend Kato (Chou). The film somewhat typically follows Britt as he grows from a party-going, directionless hooligan, experiences a life-change, and gives his life a purpose.

He is introduced to Kato, a former employee of the Reid family, and a friendship grows in tandem with their crime-fighting exploits. The duo decides their vigilantism would be best carried out under the guise of mock-villainy.

The film features a well-cast group of actors, all of whom deliver quirky performances suited to the flick’s offbeat humour. Seth Rogen hams it up to delicious levels, and he’s well complemented by Chou’s controlled straight-man act. Christoph Waltz aptly depicts the film’s nonplussed villain, Chudnofsky, who struggles through a sort of misplaced mid-life crisis.

The supporting cast features Cameron Diaz, David Harbour, and Tom Wilkinson, each of whom delivers a rather standard performance. Surprise, surprise: Wilkinson is a coarse, unemotional bigwig, and Diaz is shoehorned into the cute-and-quirky female lead. James Franco and Edward Furlong pop up in quick cameos, with Franco’s uncredited appearance fittingly kicking off the movie’s ridiculous antics.

Technically, The Green Hornet is a fast-paced, enjoyably over-the-top cinematic romp with almost-farcical characters and action thrown in for good measure. The fun, jumpy musical accompaniment keeps scenes taut and energetic.

Michel Gondry helms the film’s occasionally too-ambitious direction. It succeeds for the most part, and he does a decent job of skirting the line between gimmicky and appropriate with 3D effects. The Green Hornet showcases Gondry’s growth, as he displays a sleek maturity with his nicely toned-down direction.

The movie’s only drawbacks are that Rogen’s irreverent humour might turn some people off, as he’s unrelenting with his shtick, and that the film can be a bit preposterous, particularly in the climactic action scenes. Overall, though, The Green Hornet is a playful picture right on cue.

The King’s Speech (9.5/10)

The King’s Speech is a touching, effusively charming film. The movie seamlessly blends cheeky dialogue, deep, blooming characters, stunning visuals, and on-the-spot acting into a masterpiece of modern movies.

The film tells the story of King George VI of England, his difficulties with a speech impediment, and the king’s relationship with an eccentric speech therapist. The plot is backdropped by his ascension to the throne, a looming second world war, and the issues of the royal family.

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush star as King George VI and speech therapist Lionel Logue respectively, and the experienced actors do not disappoint. Their witty, playfully engaging interactions are fraught with a woven chemistry that drives the film. Firth perfectly creates such frustrated urgency that his protagonist is almost immediately an intricate, three-dimensional person.

Supporting actors Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, and Guy Pearce complement scenes and serve to complete the fleshing out of late ’30s England. Bonham Carter in particular delivers a nuanced and reserved performance that fits nicely in the film.

The King’s Speech balances emotionally wrenching scenes with both joyful progress and earnest incidence. The beautifully set film floats along artfully crafted visuals, anchored by inventive cinematography, poignant direction, and refreshingly jarring editing. The swooping, imaginative shots never let you forget the severity of scenes, while aggressive crops and inclusive framing create relief from scene to scene without affecting the film’s pacing.

The film’s plot delicately balances speech sessions, familial moments, and references to an imminent war, with none overshadowing the others. The King’s Speech is an ambitious movie based on actual events, and it accomplishes great things. It is a brilliant production of such charm that the inevitable result of viewing is entertainment.

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Category: A&C

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