For months, the Green Hornet movie has been the butt of jokes, concern and outright derision - But, if initial test screenings are to be believed, it might be the best superhero movie in a long time.
Almost from the time it was first announced, Sony's Green Hornet movie has been plagued with bad press, whether it was the choice of star (Co-writer Seth Rogen, whom many feel wouldn't be able to pull off being an action hero), director (Michel Gondry, who's critically acclaimed for movies like Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind, but again, too offbeat for some - And, also, more importantly, not Stephen Chow, who was originally announced as director to the excitement of many movie fans, only to drop out over "creative differences") or the continuing forward motion of the release date (Originally June 2010, then December 2010, and finally January 14th 2011). That initial shots from the movie, as well as the first trailer, seemed to provoke casual indifference more than excitement just compounded the buzz - This was a mess of a movie. Add in urban myth about people walking out during the movie's trailer at this summer's San Diego Comic-Con, and the fix seemed to be in for The Green Hornet... until, apparently, this week.
According to the LA Times, the movie tested very well for an audience this week. Very, very well, in fact:
According to one of my spies who was on hand, after the ratings cards were tabulated, the movie had scored a 93 rating in what is known as the top two boxes (the percentage of people saying the film was either excellent or very good) with 83% of the moviegoers saying they would "definitely recommend" the film to their friends.
Suddenly, there are rumors that the January release date isn't, as initially assumed, trying to hide the movie in the post-holiday rush, but instead giving the movie a chance to breathe, away from the Christmas blockbusters, and that all of the bad press and fan backlash will work in the movie's favor, underplaying expectations in the same way that Red managed to escape the crush of anticipation that overwhelmed other comic movies like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World or even Iron Man 2.
I'm not convinced that it's true; the trailer is interesting, but not necessarily great - a couple of nice moments don't really make up for the surrounding "eh," really - and this new take on things strikes me as a way for the publicists to save face as the movie ramps up for eventual release. But at the same time, I find that I really want the movie to be good, and to do well, and I can't really explain why: Is it because I like Gondry's other movies, and find Rogen to be an affable on-screen presence? Is it because I want the naysayers to be proven wrong for once? Or maybe I'm just a secret Hornet fan hoping for something better than his mid-60s television series. I'm extremely cynical that the movie will live up to the 93 rating - I'm doubtful that most movies could - but if this turns out to be not just not the disaster everyone has been expecting, but actually the surprise hit of the year? That's be kind of great, it has to be said. Roll on 2011, and we'll see if the Black Beauty isn't the only sweet spot in the whole thing.