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'The Green Hornet' tries to buzz

July 24, 2010|By Steven Zeitchik | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Comic-Con attendees weren't quite sure what to make of "The Green Hornet," Seth Rogen's reincarnation of the 20th century radio/television superhero. In Hall H on Friday, the footage played to a decent, if not rousing, reception and afterward, many of the questioners were as eager to talk about their love of the actor as they were about their excitement for the January film.

It's not for lack of some heavy-hitting talent. Rogen, who wrote the script with Evan Goldberg, of course succeeded in landing top-tier names, including indie auteur Michel Gondry and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, both of whom turned up at the Friday panel.

But despite the all-star lineup, the teaser session for the Sony Pictures' movie about former playboy Britt Reid, his titular alter ego, and his wing man Kato didn't necessarily bowl over audiences. Footage -- essentially an extended trailer -- showed action scenes that were reasonably received and several comedic elements that didn't quite hit. As it did in the original trailer, the movie seemed to confuse some moviegoers by falling in-between kitschy action and more self-serious inspiration ("It's not dying you and I have to be afraid of. It's never having lived in the first place").

Gondry affected a serious tone that didn't play as naturally to the crowd as other directors have. And while Waltz drew huge applause after his turn last year in "Inglourious Basterds" -- and was refreshingly honest with the un-Comic-Con-like admission that he actually wasn't a comic-book person (most attendees swear they've been geeks since birth) -- he did prompt some catcalls in the usually appreciative crowd for the admission.

But mostly the questions went to Rogen -- some of them from fans on the spacey side, prompting the star to make plenty of stoner jokes (about them and himself).

The movie of course also has the misfortune of arriving at the same Comic-Con as the more straightforwardly superheroic "Green Lantern," which Rogen -- no doubt having encountered the confusion before -- acknowledged by emerging on the stage and quipping to the audience that he knew they were expecting Ryan Reynolds. (More here on the entire development and production of "The Green Hornet" from my colleague Geoff Boucher.)

Rogen did put a decent spin on the film's 3-D conversion, which has been a bete noir for Comic-Con audiences this year, saying that he and Goldberg had wanted to shoot that way from the start.

Maybe the most noteworthy element of the panel, and film, lies with Rogen's evolution. With his character going from playboy partier to purpose-driven superhero, Rogen did acknowledge he was turning away from the schlubby loser character he had perfected in several Judd Apatow movies. "In this movie my character becomes a lot more heroic than he does in any of my other movies. It's a little different from anything I've done." It's still an open question how much audiences will want to see those differences.

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