Gang, by previous articles, you should know that I love the Jonah Hex comic. I also happen to really enjoy the Jonah Hex movie as well, and watch it a few times a year. I know, a lot of people I know crinkle their noses at the mere mention of the movie, but there was a lot of good things that went on with that movie, aaaaand some not so good
Since I’m under Coronatine, I have had more than enough time to watch this movie, and revisit this just miss classic.
1. The Character
Jonah Hex is a character that is made for movies. It’s such a great book, I am a little sad that it’s made by DC. Why, because DC messes up almost all their movies. As a character, he’s just wonderful. He is a hero, his is a bad guy, he is a good guy, despite scarring he gets almost any lady he wants, and much like Batman, he has a code of ethics that is his, and his alone, and really, his justice is quick, and legal under the law of the day. Granted, he’s not a looker by any means, but Josh Brolin was made for the role (Clint Eastwood is too old)
2. The Cast
Josh Brolin has been in three “comic book” movies (He’s Thanos, Cable, and Jonah Hex), and to me, this was the role he was meant to play. He’s a great actor, but I love the casting. Megan Fox wasn’t my favorite to play Tullalah (Lilah) Black. She’s just too perfect looking for the time period. I’m sure there were beautiful women back then, but not Megan Fox level. John Malkovich as the villain was good. His character suffered from the meh writing the most, but he played a pretty good bad guy. Honestly, not the strongest casting either. Michael Fassbender played Burke, and he was amazing in this role. He was Malkovich’s right hand man, and was great being evil, maniacal, and loving his work. His Irish accent got a little old, but the personality he brought out was perfect. Tom Wopat makes an appearance, Will Arnett, and Brent Hinds from Mastadon is in a blink and you miss him scene.
3. The Costume in the Film
I liked the fact, in a time right after the civil war ended, the soldiers looked a little fresher than townsfolk, but not much. The clothes looked worn, the people looked…musty…when they needed to look musty. I watch Westerns, and always wonder how they can wear the same clothes for three days, and not have a speck of dust on them. Drives me crazy. I imagine that in the time it occurred, people smelled a bit…ripe. The creases weren’t crisp, the colors weren’t as bright, and not everyone wore a cowboy hat. (few did, they would often wear “bowlers”, though caballero’s wore sombreros.
This movie plays fast. This movie is fast. Clocking in at 81 minutes, it is a really quick movie. And in that 81 minutes, the story flies. I think in parts, taking a little time, maybe filling out the story would have helped, but we’ll talk about that in the second half of this article.
It’s a fun movie. I had no chance of winning an Oscar. Or a Golden Globe. Heck, Toy Story 3 came out the same day, it isn’t even going to win movie of the week. (Though not going to win saddest animated film of the week either) But it’s fun. Nobody really overacts. It’s a nice fluffy tale, fitting of a three run set of a comic book. Megan Fox is showing all sorts of 1800’s cleavage, Fassbender’s psychopath is creepy, and Brolin shines.
I always enjoy this movie. As someone who’s attention span can be short, this movie is perfect for me. It has it’s flaws (coming next), but as a whole, I feel it is wrongfully panned by most, and they have heard bad things, so they are looking for all the bad. And you know what they say, when you are looking for bad, you find the bad.
Speaking of the bad, here are five reasons the critics are right.
1. The Script
The script had potential. When Josh Brolin first read it, he insisted it got rewritten, and he pictured the movie as sort of like “High Plains Drifter”. Unfortunately for him, and us, he did not get that. I felt the script was written by someone who had never read a Jonah Hex comic book, or watched a Clint Eastwood movie. Maybe that was the directors fault. To me it smells of a script that could have been taken one way, and then a focus group got a hold of it, sanitized it, and this is what you got. Megan Fox refused to do it at first, saying that it was too misogynistic. You can dull that down, but it is the mid 1800’s, and women’s rights had not made it out west yet. The script ended up coming out cookie cutter. Very little originality, for story that perhaps wasn’t the most original in the first place, but had the potential to be so much more.
2. The Set
The towns were too clean, the scenes were too fresh looking, there was no wear and tear on anything. Even the small town in the beginning looked like it was just built with aged wood. Gang, they used hand tools to shape logs and planks, not table saws. It’s ok for things to be irregular. I know gang, this probably doesn’t bother most, but it bugs me every time. (and clean clothes)
3. The Director
Jimmy Heyward came from Pixar, where he directed and created animated films, and I just don’t think he did a good job. He had an All-Star cast, a rich character, and he ran this movie so lean, that it’s flat compared to what you expect from it. This movie could have been 20 minutes longer. He could have added a bit to the back story, so you understand why Hex and Turnbull hate each other. You had the sets already, why not use them? For what he put on screen, he did an efficient job in making it flow and move, but there is no point in making chicken soup if there is no meat on the bones.
4. The Writer
Mark Neveldine came from an action background. Brian Taylor came from a punk band background, and the two of them have a style that is rather in your face. Jonah Hex is a story kind of character. He’s like a nice wine, you open him up, it takes a bit to develop. These guys write like Mad Dog 20/20, you open it up and chug it down. I don’t feel it was a good fit. If you look at IMDb, you can see the litany of goofs, and to me, I think they had in mind what they wanted to write, and forced the characters into them, instead of getting to know the characters, and writing the story around them.
5. The Marketing
It had a $47million dollar budget, it made $10 million, and then just disappeared. Releasing it against Toy Story 3 hurt a lot. When people see it made $10 million with that cast, they then start to assume it’s a bad movie. I’m not saying it was a great movie, but you needed a slow build up, you had to get non readers used to a character that isn’t all that well known, and you had to sell the genre again, yet gearing it towards a young generation. They did none of these. They threw it out there against a beast that had all the marketing, and it died with a whimper.
Gang, give it a try. You may enjoy it. I like it a lot. I give it a 7/10. I like Westerns. I like Jonah Hex.
The kids today, they could really care less about Westerns. You still see them on occasion, remakes mostly, and straight to DVD or streaming service movies, but they are geared towards people my age or older. Kids don’t know about cowboys. That time passed a century ago. When I was a kid, you still had all the stars of Westerns alive. You knew their names, you wanted to see the films. All the big stars of the time made westerns. They were huge.
Now….barely nothing. You get cookie cutter stories with god damn Trace Adkins starring in them. Not just a cameo, they let him do lines and everything. Terrible. My criteria for a western today is that Trace Adkins is not in it. That’s not drawing a kid’s interest.
I understand the feeling that they were maybe hoping the rocket pace would draw in kids, or the comic aspect…but they needed more. I hope that they give the character another chance, or at least an animated series for PG13, but I doubt I will ever see it. I’m a little sad.
Gang, you know where to find me @jaycanchu. Feeling lazy today, so go on spoilerverse.com and find all the other goodies.