Sunday, January 16, 2011

THE GREEN HORNET: Advanced Review - 8 Stars

There are no spoilers in this review, but you are open to discuss anything you wish in the comments section.

Click on the images to enlarge.

One sentence to sum this review up: THE GREEN HORNET is the best 3D conversion I have ever seen. It rivals and is the equal of native 3D in many scenes!

This movie sets new ground for 2D to 3D conversions. The stereo in this movie is, at times, PERFECT. I do not say that lightly as you know. Congratulations to all involved - Sony (Grant Anderson / Rob Engle), Legend 3D (Barry Sandrew), Stereo D, Venture 3D and Sassoon Film Design. It is a massive achievement and sets the bar so much closer to native 3D.

Let's talk about the few negative issues first and get them out of the way. As a general comment, the 3D is over used. Unfortunately there are few if any breaks in the constant barrage of stereo viewing for your eyes to rest and therefore at the end of the movie you can expect a headache. Minor ache of course; mine lasted about 15 minutes, but still it was there. Would it stop me from seeing it again? No way! I am going again ASAP. The moments that TGH captures that are perfectly done far outweigh tired eyes.

Yes, the 3D was over used, but scene by scene it is spectacular. Some scenes though were needlessly amped up with stereo conversion (yes, that is Jim Dorey saying that!) that in my opinion could have been used to rest the audience's eyes. Scenes like when the District Attorney is in Britt Reid's office and you can literally see the DA's nose in 3D - sticking out at you. It adds nothing to the story, does not draw you into the scene and in fact dials you out as it is so obvious. The DA is standing too far back to be able to see his nose like that even if you were really in the room with him. It was exaggerated and unnatural to me. It makes you think about the 3D and not the dialogue. That's not good. I even took my glasses off later in the scene to see the image separation and of course there it was.

Another scene was more about communication between the director, cinematographer and the on location 3D expertise. When Britt and Kato first sit in Black Beauty (their pimped out crime fighting car - or is it crime committing car!) there is an overly generous dolly movement from left to right that is far too fast for the stereo conversion (and it would be in native 3D as well imo). Too much eye strain again to enjoy that moment and distracting from the dialogue. In 2D it would have been fine, but remember this movie has full time 3D so it was a strain when it could have been a more restful moment to enjoy.

The acting could have been much better in my mind, but the comedic relief moments were superb as one would expect in a Seth Rogen project. It was a pleasure to see Christoph Waltz in the villain role again - this time much less serious than with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Waltz saved this movie's acting score from being much lower in my review. And I am simply not a Cameron Diaz fan anymore. Did not enjoy her performance whatsoever.

Let's break down the aspects of my review:

Stereoscopic 3D (9 stars):
Again, perfect 3D at times. Gorgeous to watch, yet for those few times where the 3D was overly done and the overall over use of stereo brought down the score for me.

Story (8 stars):
I immediately thought to myself at the end of the movie that the story could have so much more about how these characters have changed (more on that below) but there was so little development involved. I did enjoy the angle in which Rogen explained how they were going to be different from other super heroes and act like a criminal to gain their trust (again no spoiler here).

Acting (7 stars):
Could have been so much better! I can see Rogen's enthusiasm for the role come through in his acting but I still don't think he was perfect for the role of TGH. Jay Chou was bang on though. Loved him. Again Cameron Diaz did NOT belong and Waltz was a joy to behold and carried much of the movie.

Character Development (6.5 stars):
The writers missed the mark on this one. I saw few changes in Britt Reid and only one resonated with me at all (I will talk about them in the comments - where spoilers are allowed) so I was disappointed. I got nothing from Diaz and Chou for development. Waltz's evolution was ok.

Suspension of Disbelief (7 stars):
As I said, the 3D at times was distracting and actually pulls you OUT of the movie a bit. I didn't enjoy that. However, other scenes brought you sublimely INTO the movie! Confusing I know, but there it is. I heartily enjoyed the movie though and was able to suspend my disbelief most of the time.

Directing (8.5 stars):
Michel Gondry did an amazing job with this project! He turned it into his own. Loved the pacing and how well everything held together, save those few stereo moments. More character development and story would have been prudent.

Sound / Score (8 stars):
TGH does not have the caliber of score as say TRON: LEGACY, but it is a good score. It suits the genre and action so go with it! :-)

Cinematography (9 stars):
One of the clear strengths of TGH! Perfect at times. Really draws you in. More attention has to be paid to the mash up between the camera work and stereo conversion but overall was superbly done.

Special Effects / Stunts (8.5 stars):
Another strength of the production. You can tell that a lot of money was spent on this production ($100m+, not including marketing). Nothing cheap about this movie. It is truly something to see for yourself - Black Beauty alone is worth the price of admission :-)

The few and small complaints I have are few and far between. This movie's 3D was superb and non-stop. I heard the audience's react to everything! I pay attention to those things. Even a simple static shot (no dolly movement which is often used to accentuate 3D) of the exterior of the Reid estate looked simply and utterly GORGEOUS. A couple behind me gasped at the clarity of it. It was shocking. Like you were really there. A perfect shot and conversion. Scenes like this rival native 3D - I defy you to tell the difference in that particular shot. This is a first for me guys. Conversion can be that good.

Then there was the mash up between the stereo work and the cinematography and it was amazing too. One particular shot again had the Reid estate but this time with a lateral movement and as the frame swept by the home, it transformed into the coffin of Britt's father (no spoiler as this is revealed in the trailer). It was an amazing and artistic effect, even with the obvious differences in those object sizes. Nicely done. This was a case of the 3D truly bringing out the creativeness of that scene. Loved it.

Some have complained in the past that you are not getting your money's worth with some 3D movies, that the stereo is hardly noticeable - well with TGH, you walk out of the theater knowing that you just saw spectacular 3D. No doubt about it. It is an experience to be had. Sony has a winner here and not only in the theater!

THE GREEN HORNET will excel in 3D home theaters too. It is that good. I am kinda curious how native 3D pundits (I am one!) will react to this movie. Personally I think that if the correct amount of attention is paid, and the right amount of money is paid, we are getting very close to 3D conversions rivaling native 3D.

THE GREEN HORNET is, in its own way, the poster child of stereo conversion. The first of hopefully many more 'rising bars' for conversion.

Special thanks to Empire Theatres for the screening.

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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