Esme Grey (foenix) wrote,
Esme Grey

Let's Talk Movies: Jonah Hex

Thankfully, there were no plans involving giant spiiiiiders.

The short of it is, Jonah Hex is not a good movie.

BUT it *is* a fun movie.

And anyone who's read my website, or knows me well enough, knows that in my mind, fun can often trump badness.  Remember, I will say in the same breath how much I love Bordello of Blood and say it is a truly awful movie.

The movie was too short.  Yeah, most people watching a bad movie are glad when it's over, but the length is part of the problem.  Hex really needed a few extra scenes to flesh out the characters, show more things than tell them.  We are constantly told about how Jonah killed Jeb Turnbull, betrayed his fellow soldiers, and turned in Jeb's father Quentin...  It might have been nice to actually SEE that.  Some more character moments in this movie would have been most welcome.

Especially when, the best scene in the movie is a character moment, and it's actually close to brilliant.  The conversation Jonah has with a reanimated Jeb is easily the finest thing in the movie.  There's an emotional core to it between the two conflicted characters, it's a little bit fun with its humour, and the conflict between Jonah and Quentin being the two sides of the same coin is well said.  It's maybe an old trope, but I loved the way this movie presented it.  For those mere few minutes when they could have bothered.  If any of the multiple writers (How does something this short, at 80 minutes, manage to have that many writers?!) had really followed that thread through...then this could have really been something.

That's most of the bad.  The plot is holier than Swiss cheese, and it feels like we missed a few scenes somewhere on the editing floor, but it clips through at such a pace that if you're along for the ride you can get past some of that stuff.

It is both a shame and a blessing that the cast in this movie is pretty damned good.  A shame because you feel like the talent could be better used elsewhere, but the acting carries this story far better than it could have.  Josh Brolin is pretty damned amazing as Jonah Hex.  You feel his pain, on so many levels, both his physical pain for his scarring, his internal pain for everything he's lost, and the pain he wants to avoid by keeping the one person he cares about at arms' length.

Malkovich is phoning it in as Quentin Turnbull but, c'mon.  Even phoned in Malkovich is pretty good.

I seriously wish Lance Reddick, as the weapons designer Smith had more to do in this film, because I love watching him work, and he did more with the few minutes of screentime than most other actors would have done.  If hell freezes over and there's a sequel, he needs to be right up there with Jonah.

Even Megan Fox isn't bad.  She's not given a whole lot to work with, but she's a strong presence, and I believe her strength of character, and the sense that she's bored with her life but has nothing else better to do until Jonah wises up.

The rest of the cast is equally up to par, and put more thought behind the words than they probably had on the paper, and elevate the movie to a level beyond where it should be.

The plot is pretty straightforward.  Hex is scarred, family is killed, seeks revenge on the Confederate general who did it to him as that same man tries to get vengeance on the post-war United States.  Not a whole lot of surprises here, storywise.  The doomsday weapon is nicely over the top (I don't mind a little camp) and like I said, at least it wasn't a giant, mechanical spider.

And while I like camp, I felt it went a little too far into that realm at times.  The gatling guns on the horse.  The coughing up of a crow.  The pit fight with the snake man.  I would've traded those for some more character scenes any day.

Another thing I liked was the sense of humour.  Hex has a mean streak of black humour through him, as anyone whose gone through his experiences likely would have, and he has no patience for stupidity.  I got a good deal of laughs at the humour, and his bluntness causing some of that.

Highly flawed, but a lot of fun.  Worth a rental, or catching it on the tv later.  If you've got nothing better to do and want to kill 90 minutes with trailers, you can do worse than this light on plot explodey western.  But yeah, there's flaws so...

Oh, and you'll notice I didn't say anything about how the movie compares to the comics.  That's because I've probably read a whopping three appearances of Jonah Hex, and one of those is when he got Amalgamed with Marvel's Chamber.  So I can't say if this will piss off fans of the comics.  I think that's one reason I gave some of the stuff a pass, since it does seem awfully comicbooky in some of the logic and science and mysticism.  I can let some goofiness in for that sake.


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