by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
“Green Hornet” Can’t Overcome Semi Campy Start; “Black Swan” Explores Acting Dark Side

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 (minus  potty mouths) college life  celebration. mode.  Instead of ‘let’s party,” it’s let’s beat up a few drug dealers.  The Apatow attitude is well grained 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 intentioned action/adventure which elaborate visuals cannot repair. The Hornet’s 21st Century ‘revival’ is mixed , at best, and likely a one time outing.

** out of *****   

SHORT TAKES:

Little Frockers

 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 ) surrounding the exaggerated situations.

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

 A conversational response  in the film becomes   metaphor --- after women marry and have children, their love life diminishes. The after 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 “Frocker” stumbles short of its predecessors.

 *1/2  out of ***** 

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  ingénue 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.’

 

****1/2 out of *****