So the Jonah Hex movie came out Friday and made an underwhelming 5.38 Million. Rotten Tomatoes has it listed at 14%. Not a very good percentage. I had made a promise to myself to give the movie a chance; to go into the theater and not expect to see a direct translation of one of my favorite characters. I had two surprises Monday morning when I walked into the theater at 11:45. First, there were actually other people there. Not a lot sure, but I was expecting an empty theater. The second surprise; despite all its flaws, I enjoyed the movie.
I’m not saying it is a masterpiece. Maybe my expectations were so low it would be hard to make a movie as bad as I was expecting. But as I watched there were moments in the film that had me grinning widely; even cheering. There were things that made me roll my eyes too. A few times I even received a sympathetic pat on the arm from my wife. Bottom line though, I left the theater and enjoyed most of what I had just seen.
Spoilers after the jump.
I wasn’t sure which way to go with the review, but I’m going to start with the things and I didn’t like and move towards the ones I did. This is heavy spoiler territory, so you’ve been warned.
What I didn’t like:
Horse mounted dual Gatling guns. They are all over the commercials, so you’ve probably seen them. These things just look ridiculous. They are used in the first five minutes of the movie. Hex has to take out like eight people quickly. In the comic, he’d pull a revolver with each hand and put a bullet into each enemy. Instead he rears up his horse and the Gatling guns come out. Thankfully they are never used again. But that isn’t the only prop that looks like it was nicked from the set of the Wild Wild West. There are dynamite shooting crossbows. They are short lived too, but I fail to see where a Winchester or Henry repeater couldn’t have done the job. Hex does not need to be James Bond.
Of course the whole Nation Killer weapon was a waste. I don’t even know why the plot needed to be something that big. The best Jonah Hex stories have a much smaller scope. They are personal. The glowing spheres just looked like an excuse to fill the movie with CGI explosions. If they wanted Turnbull to threaten the US, have him try a simple presidential assassination or something. Every moment those stupid glowing balls were on the screen hurt the movie.
Mastodon is a fine band, I have no problems with them. I don’t want them providing the score for my Western movie. The music would be very good and then the electric guitar starts every time the action picked up. It was a jarring difference.
The hallucinations were confusing and unnecessary. Hex fighting Turnball one on one in the dreamscape didn’t work when he was shot and dying. It really didn’t work when it returned during the final fight of the movie.
I didn’t think I’d like it…but I did:
I was sure I was going to hate Hex’s ability to talk to the dead. But his conversation with Jeb changed my mind. It felt like something that should be in a Hellboy movie, but I enjoyed it. It isn’t something I want to see him start doing in comics, but it works for the movie version.
Burke. Why does the knife wielding Irish man have tribal tattoos all over his neck? I don’t know and they never say. But looking past that, he was the best villain in the picture. In my mind he upstaged Malkovich.
Smith. Considering how much I disliked the idea of Hex carrying around steampunk weapons, I liked his arms dealer. It is hard to say exactly why. Just his friendship with Jonah seemed to help flesh out the Hex character.
Lilah. I was worried about Megan Fox. Sure I knew she was pretty, but I’ve never seen her act. The movie doesn’t give her a lot to do besides constrict her waist to an amazingly small size. But she works. The fact they drop the name Tallulah is a huge nod to the comic fans.
Josh Brolin was perfect. There was a squint in his eye, a guttural muttering when he spoke. Of the things that did work, he was the driving force behind them. I compare him to Ron Perlman’s Hellboy. The movie might not have been perfect for the character, but the actor was.
The Dog. He was my wife’s favorite part of the movie. But it works. There have been plenty of stories were Jonah ends up with a temporary animal companion, be it dog or in at least one case, a wolf. It felt like something out of the comic and I loved it.
The comic intro. Using the animation to retell Jonah’s origin was very cool. It looked great and was a nice nod to the comics.
And that’s it. After the past few articles on the comic and television version of Hex we finally got to the movie. I’ll be picking it up when it finally hits DVD. There probably won’t be a Hex article for a little bit, it got pretty Jonah centric around here, but I’ll end this one with a sketch done by Phil Noto for my brain jar themed sketchbook. Excuse the crappy scan. And remember if my blog or the movie sparked some interest in the character, there are lots of places to check him out.