Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's put the X in Hex

Why not a Kiss reference? That's the best I could do, headline-wise, or whatever you call that part of the blog entry... Title, it says. We also would've accepted "All my Hex's live in Texas..." So cornly, so dumb.
Anyway, I couldn't help but notice my fellow critics really hatin' on ol' Jonah Hex. But, I dunno... I kinda liked it! But I'm perfectly willing to admit that there's not a lot to like here. But between this and True Grit, Josh Brolin owned the Western in 2010. Oh, he got his Duke on! Am I hip enough yet? I'm thinking the critics just don't like Megan Fox all that much, even though she's kinda purty. Wonder if they liked Passion Play at all. No one's reviewed that yet. I'm assuming Mickey Rourke plays the trumpet player with a heart of gold. Bad casting. He's supposed to be the ruthless gangster that we can't help but love! What was he thinking? Incidentally... and I got this from an IMDb Trivia page, so you know it's true, but Megan Fox plays Lily in Passion Play and Lilah in Jonah Hex, so you know she's got range.
But let's get back to the Hexster. Something about the casting of this movie that's just plain wrong. For example, Oscar nominee Michael Shannon is apparently in the movie, but I failed to recognize him. Guess I'll have to watch it again. He's definitely a chimera of sorts: voice of Steven Wright, hair of young Willem Dafoe, eyes of Steve Buscemi ... if Christopher Walken and Willem Dafoe were somehow able to have a kid, that's what he'd look like. Also, Tom Wopat was in the movie. Now a lesser movie would put him in a wagon, have that wagon get run off the road and go flying over a river, Confederate flag prominently displayed... but not this movie. But I did suspect that the one character was the Fitts boy from American Beauty. Oh, if only his career soared as high as that character did... kinda like watching Animal Mother make do with his tiny, tiny part in Independence Day. What a comedown. Oh yeah! And Will Arnett so playing against type. Why, Putty might as well have been in the role... but he probably would've sneaked in some of that ol' Putty magic. As for Brolin himself, well, when they remake Raising Arizona, he's more than ready to play Leonard Smalls, the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse.
On to the plot. Co-written by Neveldine & Taylor... yes, THE Neveldine & Taylor. Better add them to my Auteur Watch series, huh? Frankly, the film didn't stray too far beyond a reboot of 1999's other failed sci-fi Western, the Wild Wild West, as I first assessed the very instant I saw a trailer for Hex on TV. Let's face it: not a lot happened of big dramatic import just after the Civil War. I would've had more respect for this film if they showed President Grant with some kind of liquor bottle at his desk. Oh, but the playing hooky with history doesn't end there, of course... check the Trivia and Goofs page. They know more than I do. But I did catch an homage to that short cannon Buster Keaton used as a comic centerpiece in his classic The General. Anyway, as with Wild Wild West, a maniacal Southern bigshot returns from faking his own death to become a Bond villain, using a 19th century super weapon. This time, Quentin Tarantino... I mean, Turnbull sets his sights a little higher than Arliss Loveless, and goes NOT after the historic joining of the Trans-Continental Railroad, but rather after the White House itself. Jonah Hex is hunted down by the President's men and employed to go after Turnbull... for personal reasons, of course, outlined at the beginning of the film. Hex goes to the friendly neighborhood Gatling gun shop to armour himself to the teeth.
One thing I did notice was a certain monotony of the giant explosions in the film, of which there are several. A town gets blown up (by Hex), several train cars full of passengers gets blown up (by the baddies), and Hex uses dynamite arrows to blow up the bad guys, among other things. Also, the "super weapon" gets tested out on a small Western town before going to D.C. Here's the twist: it's not explained why it's particularly super or special... just that it takes an extra-long conveyor belt to load glowing spheres into place. The glowing spheres make special oversized cannonballs explode... again, none of this is explained. Sorry; should I have put 'Spoiler Alert'?
Oh, and Jonah Hex can resurrect the dead by touching them... yes, just like Pushing Daisies. My viewing companion didn't know that, though. And frankly, how often is Pushing Daisies going to be repeated on HBO? Egg-zactly. But if Sonnenfeld doesn't mind this concept being blatantly lifted, no one will. Oh, and I almost forgot: I forget what it was now... I think it was Turnbull's hideout, but it felt an awful lot like the black gate of Mordor from Lord of the Rings, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. The music seemed to think so as well. And of course, a "police ship" so swiftly intercepting the enemy ship... a tad too contemporary. And the way the police ship is removed from the picture... did anyone else think of Gary Busey's demise in Under Siege 1? Just me? Thought so. Never mind.
So to summarize. For some reason, I didn't find this to be the subject of such scorn and ridicule as, say, the Onion, and Ebert at least gave it two stars. Others weren't so generous. I just didn't think it was as bad as all that! Corny, yes, but not totally unwatchable. Sure, cinema in general is declining because of all this damn CGI, but the cinematography here was pretty good. Pretty slick. And if it was filmed on digital video, it sure looked like film, and without the streaking effects of bad digital video. Maybe if Josh Hartnett was in the lead role instead of Josh Brolin it would've skewed better with the Slim Jim set. As for me, I probably won't see it again... unless someone gets it for me on Blu-Ray! (hint hint...) Sigh. I never get freebies. I'll let you know when I do, though.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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