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People watch Michael Gondry films for his unique brand of filmmaking. His work – characterized by surrealism, fantastical imagery, meticulous attention to detail, and explorations of memory and relationships – has cemented his position as one of the handful of living auteurs. However, his latest film, next year’s Green Hornet, looks to fly in the face of Gondry’s unique style. Check out the trailer and my first impressions after the jump.

I don’t want play the hipster and start screaming “sell out”, but the strongest impression I got from the trailer is that this film looks purely commercial. There’s nothing of Gondry’s unique style present here at all, none of his trademark creativity or weirdness at all. From start to finish, the trailer paints The Green Hornet as a purely derivative superhero story.

After seeing the trailer, I can’t help but think that Gondry was the wrong man for this movie. Not that the film looks bad by any stretch. It just looks totally whitebread. Gondry making Hornet makes about as much sense as Tarantino making The Smurfs: you have to get rid of what makes their work unique to prevent your precious licensed property from becoming unrecognizable.

The next biggest thing that struck me was how much the Hornet’s origin seems to be cobbled from other, better heroes. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a playboy party animal realizes he’s been wasting his life on frivolous pursuits and spends his billions on high tech gadgets to fight crime. To be fair, the Hornet preceded and at least partially inspired Batman and Iron Man, but this film seems explicitly designed to capitalize on the popularity of both franchises.

In fact, a little supplementary research on Wikipedia (I am a professional, after all) reveals that the Green Hornet’s origin was altered for this film. The original radio program “detailed the adventures of Britt Reid, debonair newspaper publisher by day, crime-fighting masked hero at night” (source), which is markedly different from the Tony Stark-esque party boy origins found in the film.

Peter Sciretta of the excellent film blog /Film summed up my thoughts on this trailer very well, writing “Honestly, I’m shocked at how normal and rather generic this film looks, especially considering Gondry’s involvement.”

Stray thoughts:
– Why do Reid and Kato decide to call themselves the Green Hornet? In the trailer it seems that Reid just pulls the name out of nowhere, apropos of nothing. The film may offer some kind of explanation, but the trailer offers no clues.
– Oh good, Cameron Diaz. That’s what this film was missing. I just can’t get enough of her dull, vacant eyes and listless performances.


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