When Sony announced that Michel Gondry was directing Green Hornet, many people joked that the superhero flick would be composed of cardboard and twine. But instead, Gondry treated the audience to a new POV-style of superhero ass-kicking: the awesome Kato-Vision.
Early Green Hornet reviews all called the flick fun, but a hodgepodge of action and comedy. Still, the one thing most critics singled out was Gondry's Kato-Vision. Here is a clip of exactly what they were talking about:
In an interview with Screen Junkies, Gondry talks about his idea for Kato-vision. This wasn't the first time that Gondry's peppered his footage with slow-motion action sequences — he even tried to introduce this technique earlier in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:
Well, it's something that I like to play with. The idea of the scene in the garage, if the camera goes very slowly in a very steady way, it becomes a reality. This motion is real because it seems like normal. But then the character in this environment is going way too fast so there is a contradiction that is interesting for the audience. I always work like that. I did a shot for Eternal Sunshine that we couldn't use because it was too early in the movie and it would unsettle the audience if we took a train and we moved it four miles per hour, like super slow because we owned the train at this moment. I asked the little boy who was playing the younger Jim Carrey and was dressed as Superman, he would run as fast as he could but by doing that he would not go more than four miles per hour because he's a kid. But then we shot super slow so when we projected, the train was going full speed and then the little boy was following. This idea that you take a train that weighs hundreds of tons and you can control it like it was a piece of paper, then the rest of the world seemed to follow. You think that the world is bound by the heaviness of the train. That's how I see special effects all the time. It's a way to unsettle the audience, something that's not supposed to happen at this speed and then you change the speed, but the camera is moving at the speed that's a contradiction. It's confusing what I'm saying right now so I think you're going to have a hard time to convince your reader that I'm making sense.
He later goes on to explain the philosophy behind his decision to incorporate Kato-Vision...
Yeah, there is that thing you can argue, it's a sort of tradition of the theory of relativity. The perception of the motion is relative if you're moving with the object or watching the object move. It's all about that, so it's kind of close but it's helpful as one way to describe it, but it's kind of abstract. There is some sort of philosophy behind that. His fight is so violent that there is an impact in the audience perception of the environment. It multiplies, it stretches, the time stretches, the time compresses. The differences with what's been done is it's speed changing within the same frame at a different ratio while the camera is moving at a constant speed. It's a lot of parameters that we tried to meld together.
Interestingly enough, it was the Kato-Vision that basically sealed the deal for Gondry, when Sony expressed concern over letting him direct the action flick, according to Green Hornet screenwriter Evan Goldberg, in this interview with The Playlist:
They [Sony] definitely needed convincing. And he convinced the hell of out them with a fight sequence he brought inNone of us had ever seen anything like it. And he said, ‘You know what I can do. I'm going to prove to you that I can do things you might not think I can.' And it worked. They literally said, 'Michel Gondry? Never.' And he came in and blew everyone's mind away, showing he could do action.
True, this isn't really as unique as Gondry makes it sound, it sort of feels like a mash-up of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes action scenes and the light-up clue vision from Psych. But when it's put together you can't deny it's a lot of fun. So what do you think: Will we see Kato-Vision copied in future superhero flicks?