Saturday, July 3, 2010

Movie Review: Jonah Hex

Sometimes a brilliant movie comes out that critics simply can't grasp or appreciate.  In recent years, Speed Racer stands as the archetype of such a film.  In other cases, a movie is released that is certainly bad, yet enjoyable nonetheless.  Movies like Ghost Rider fit this bill; neither the critics nor fans of the comic thought much of that picture, and yet we found it entertaining.

Indeed, when we walked into the theater today, Ghost Rider was what we were hoping for: the reviews had been too uniformly bad to hope for more.

Instead, we got another Daredevil.  Jonah Hex failed to live up to the characters potential, failed to utilize its actors, and failed to deliver a level of entertainment beyond what you'd expect from mediocre television.

We should mention now that if you're sensitive to spoilers you should keep reading.  The shock of learning some of the movie's secrets may keep you from seeing the film, and, on your deathbed, no doubt you will think back on the two hours of your life you saved and how you were able to put them to better use.

To truly understand the movie, you need to grasp just one scene.  Just one.  Jonah Hex has tracked an associate of his nemesis to a pit fight, where one of the combatants is a mutant snake-man with acidic spit.

Now, ultimately, the snake-man offers some of the more interesting effects in the movie.  He's quick, brutal, and kind of cool.  He's only on screen for a few seconds, and Hex never fights or interacts with him.  He just knocks the guy he's fighting into the pit then leaves, so we never see the snake-man kill or eat anyone.

Outside, Hex runs across some guys about to kill a dog.  He rescues the dog, and it winds up becoming a slightly more significant character than Megan Fox's.

At no point in any of this is the audience interested or engaged.  Only... confused.  Why is this happening?  Why isn't the snakeman more significant?

Throw these onto the pile of unanswered questions you'll ask.  "How does the 'nation killing machine' work?"  "Why does Hex's spiritual battle occur in a dull, plain desert that's less interesting than where he's physically fighting?"  "Why are these scenes in the movie?"  "What the hell did he just say?"  And, of course, "Why in God's name are we watching this?"

At least it was better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

It doesn't matter whether you want to rate this against the best comic book movies or the best westerns: it's not doing better than one and a half stars.

There's some entertainment to be found in watching it fall apart, but that's all it really offers.  If you're interested in what could have been, track down the Batman: The Animated Series episode, Showdown, which features Jonah Hex and Ra's Al-Ghul.  Like Wild Wild West, there are several parallels to that classic episode.  They still haven't gotten it right, though.

No comments: