- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2011

The comic book permeates all levels of popular culture. This sporadic feature reviews some recent examples from the world of digital video discs and also includes a recommended reading list to extend the multimedia adventures.

The Green Hornet (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $49.95)  I am part of a generation that sharpened its pop-culture teeth on the 1960s ABC television show “The Green Hornet.”

One of my first moments of pop nirvana was watching actor Van Williams as Green Hornet and the legendary Bruce Lee as Kato battle the Caped Crusader (Adam West) and Boy Wonder (Burt Ward) on a couple of very special “Batman” episodes.

Imagine my chagrin at hearing that the big-budget movie resurrection of George W. Trendle and Fran Striker’s Green Hornet would be led by dullard comic Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, the suave newspaper publisher by day/masked vigilante at night.

A Blu-ray arrives just months after the film’s release to confirm my suspicions of an uninspired effort. Hollywood continues to crush my sequential-art stars under the weight of mediocrity.

This is more of a bromance than a supercharged warrior film. Things occasionally blow up around the inept Hornet and efficient Kato while they comb the streets for criminals, encounter bad-guy Bloodnofsky and prove to each other that they are two heterosexual men.

Mr. Rogen giggles, grunts and guffaws his way through scenes, sucking his persona from his roles in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” and “Funny People” while registering zero percent on the debonair and cool meters.

Jay Chou as Kato keeps the film from being a complete disaster with his energetic and very Bruce Lee-like persona. He perfectly plays the brains and brawn behind the duo.

I’ll also offer kudos to the latest version of Black Beauty, the crime-fighters’ awesome vehicle, which has some impressive firepower.

Amazingly, Mr. Rogen’s underwhelming Hornet won’t infuriate as much as the wasted talent of Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos and Christoph Waltz. (Mr. Waltz, you won an Oscar; what are you doing?)

Mr. Rogen should have set his sights on a Forbush Man film adaptation and left the iconic heroes alone.

By the way, the package also includes the film in 3-D, but adopters of the gimmick will find more satisfaction seeking out Three Stooges shorts in the three-dimensional realm.

Best extra: Viewers won’t be impressed with a load of behind-the-scenes featurettes devoted to the car, fight scenes and writers; deleted scenes; and a gag reel worth gagging over. The optional commentary track featuring many of the key production personnel, including director Michel Gondry, is informative, but viewers also will have to listen to Mr. Rogen.

A welcome innovation is the Cutting Room, a way to create a quick mashup of a key scene from the movie. With access to shots, music and sound effects from the Black Beauty chase scene, a viewer assembles  via a basic editing suite and timeline  a personalized clip to upload and share with friends via BD Live

A mandatory extra should have been a decent documentary on the many media adaptations of the Green Hornet, including radio serials, television shows and comic books. Let’s also add an interview with Mr. Williams; that would be an extra worth watching.

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