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DVD Review: Jonah Hex
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Jonah Hex DVDJonah Hex
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Staring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Will Arnett
Warner Brothers Home Video
Release date: October 12, 2010

Jonah Hex is a film that deserves to be much better than it ends up being. The film is based on the western comic from DC, created in the 1970s by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga, revived in 80s and 90’s in more hybrid styles (notably post-apocalyptic western and horror western), and returned to his straight western roots in 2005 by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. It’s the Gray and Palmiotti series that serves as the main inspiration for the movie, although there is plenty of the horror and supernatural aspects from the 90s thrown in. The film probably would have been better served by just focusing on the traditional western elements. If you’ve seen the movie, but haven’t read the comic, I highly suggest giving it a shot. Certainly don’t hold the movie against the comic.

Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a former confederate soldier and current bounty hunter. He is the very definition of bad ass. He makes the Man with No Name look like a fresh on the trail farm-boy. He kills without mercy, and he’s not afraid to do what ever it takes to get paid. He’s set on the track of the man who killed his family, General Turnbull (John Malkovich). The General has some plan to ruin the country’s centennial celebration, which conveniently ties into Hex’s desire for revenge. So Hex starts tracking him down. And that’s pretty much the whole plot. It’s not what you would call a complicated story.

One thing they got right about this film is the characterization of Hex. Josh Brolin does a great job of capturing the brutality and heartlessness of Jonah Hex, and in a better plot, he would be very interesting to watch. Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, and soon to be Magneto in X-Men: First Class) also turns in a decent role as a creepy henchman (my favorite kind of henchman). Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is pretty much sleep walking their way through the film. Malkovich is wasted here, as he can usually be counted on to bring a bit of fun and insanity to a role like this, but you can tell that he just doesn’t care. Megan Fox is Megan Fox which means that while she may be hot, she can’t be trusted to bring a third dimension to her character. And who knows how they talked Will Arnett into this role. He must have lost a bet.

The film does have some serious problems though and the biggest problem with the movie is its tone. The film wants to be a serious Western, like the excellent comic series being published today. However, it also wants to be a slightly goofy comic book movie, so they tack on a supernatural element, which granted, was a part of the character’s history in the 80s and 90s, but feels out of place here. And he’s got to have a horse fitted with machine guns, and guns that shoot explosives. Then it also has to appeal to its comic roots by giving the villain a zany scheme involving some 19th century super weapon. I hate zany schemes (see also; Ra’s Al Ghul’s water evaporator in Batman Begins; see also, any of Lex Luthor’s plans). They never add anything to the plot, they never say anything about the characters, and they’re just always overly complicated. The film can never decide what kind of movie it wants to be, and so it becomes boring and lifeless.

On the plus side, the film is fairly short, and as I always say, if you’re going to suck, at least do it quickly. I mean seriously, this is a short movie, like an hour and fifteen minutes short. You could call the film lean, but really there’s lean, and then there’s just lazy. The film jumps from moment to moment, and doesn’t build any of the characters into anything you care about. It’s tough to tell if making the movie longer would have added anything, in fact, the opposite is probably true, so I shouldn’t complain that much, but it just boggles the mind that someone would look at this script and say “yes, this is the movie we want to make.” It just doesn’t seem that hard to improve the script, so it just stinks of lazy filmmaking.

Also on the plus side, MASTADON!!! The music playing during the end credits was awesome! And with that, you can tell that I’m reaching for straws on good things to say about this movie. Is it the worst comic book movie ever? No, it’s just terribly unambitious and rushed. It is the very definition of a rental (mostly because when it’s on TV there’s going to be a crap-ton of commercials. There’s so much time to fill). It’s only a step above most straight-to-video movies. There’s really just not much to recommend to on this one, even the extras on the disc are nothing more than a few deleted scenes, so this is getting a most lackluster 1 out of 5. Better luck next time.

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