Wild Wild West Review

This review was originally posted for the Ultimate 90s Blogathon, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.

Wild Wild West movie posterSynopsis
Army Captain James West (Will Smith) is tasked by President Grant (Kevin Kline) to work together with US Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) to find the ex-Confederate scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) before he can take over the United States government.

Review
Wild Wild West was a go-to movie for my friend and I back when we were growing up. Between the two of us, we could (and still can!) quote the movie in its entirety. Having watched this many times over the years, I acknowledge that the nostalgia factor might affect my enjoyment of the film, as I have found several flaws since watching it as a young lad. However, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be enjoyed on its own merits.

Right out the gate, this movie is goofy. Not funny, although it is that too, but goofy. Artemis Gordon’s inventions feel a little too perfect for the situations they get Gordon and Jim West out of. Arliss Loveless’ beard rivals Crane’s beard from The Hunger Games for most intricate movie beard, acting as the proverbial “I’m the bad guy” sign. Loveless’ invention to bring the “US government to its knees” is a giant, steam-punk tarantula. Everything about this movie screams “Saturday morning cartoon.” Nevertheless, it has a sense of fun that many film miss, which is why it still works for even as I’ve grown older. Wild Wild West never takes itself seriously, making it fun for both the actors and the audience.

The humor can be seen as a little juvenile, like the scene below, but that kind of humor is what I like. Will Smith and John Kline are enjoyable to watch together. This film came out relatively early in Smith’s film career. It is fun to see how he has brought the same energy and personality to his characters throughout all of his movies, whether they were in the 90s, when he started film acting, or today. I’ll admit I haven’t seen many of Kline’s films to compare Artemis Gordon to his other roles but his comedy here is more subtle than Smith’s which works because having two boisterous comedians would be too much.

Besides the two leads, the other two big supporting actors, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh are clearly having a good time too. The often scantily clad Hayek is obviously there for the eye candy and to give West and Gordon someone to compete for, but it doesn’t appear to bother her and she gives a memorable performance. Branagh gets fully into the maniacal villain role. It’s cartoonish and over the top but he steals his every scene he’s in.

I thought Wild Wild West was GOOD 🙂 It isn’t afraid to be silly and have fun with itself, which might turn off other viewers but I really enjoyed that. Everyone, from Will Smith and Kevin Kline to Salma Hayek and Kennith Branagh, feel like they are enjoying themselves. I grew up watching this film regularly and although its imperfections have become more apparent over the years, it still is every bit the fun, adventurous romp I remember it to be.

Favorite Scene

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Barry Sonnenfeld – Director
Jim Thomas – Story
John Thomas – Story
SS Wilson – Screenplay
Brent Maddock – Screenplay
Jefferey Price – Screenplay
Peter S Seaman – Screenplay
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Will Smith – James West
Kevin Kline – Artemis Gordon / President Ulysses S Grant
Kenneth Branagh – Dr. Arliss Loveless
Salma Hayek – Rita Escobar
M. Emmet Walsh – Coleman
Ted Levine – General “Bloodbath” McGrath
Frederique van der Wal – Amazonia
Musetta Vander – Munitia
Sofia Eng – Miss Lippenrieder
Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon – Belle
Bai Ling – Miss East

Lightning Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016) movie posterSynopsis
When gold baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) forces the residents of Rose Creek to evacuate their town, several people refuse. After her husband is murdered by Bogue for standing up to him, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) seeks help from the bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington). Chisolm recruits several other men to help teach Rose Creek townsfolk to defend themselves against Bogue and his men before they attack the town.

Review
I’ve never seen the original 1960s The Magnificent Seven and it has been a very long time since I have seen Seven Samurai, so I can’t really attest to how the remake of a remake compares to its predecessors. But what I can tell you is that it makes for a fun ride if you take it for what it is.  The Magnificent Seven is first and foremost an action flick.  There is the potential for great character development but this film foregoes that to pack in as much explosions, gun-slinging, and excitement as possible.  The titular seven are each given the simplest of reasons for helping the townsfolk of Rose Creek. But you know what? That’s OK.  Director Antoine Fuqua understands exactly what kind of movie he wants this to be and doesn’t try to pretend it is something it’s not.

The cast is pretty start studded, including seasoned stars like Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, and latest acting sensation Chris Pratt. I barely recognized Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays the Kingpin in Netlix’s Dardevil series, until a friend pointed out to me it was him.  Each character is unique and the cast is extremely diverse, making for some amusing and playful banter between them.  Pratt is a hoot as always and Washington gets the most screen time of anybody (mostly since he is the one who rounds up the group) but each of the other Seven gets their time to shine on screen.  The cast alone is well worth the time spent watching the film.

I thought The Magnificent Seven was GOOD :-). It is the definition of summer blockbuster. If you are looking for some deeper film with character study, then maybe check out Seven Samurai, one of this remake’s source materials. But if you want a popcorn flick with fun characters, good laughs, and a lot of action, then you’re looking in the right place.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Antoine Fuqua – Director
Richard Wenk – Screenplay
Nic Pizzolatto – Screenplay
Simon Franglen – Composer
James Horner – Composer

Denzel Washington – Sam Chisolm
Chris Pratt – Josh Faraday
Ethan Hawke – Goodnight Robicheaux
Byung-hun Lee – Billy Rocks
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – Vasquez
Martin Sensmeier – Red Harvest
Vincent D’Onofrio – Jack Horne
Haley Bennett – Emma Cullen
Cam Gigandet – McCann
Peter Sarsgaard – Bartholomew Bogue
Luke Grimes – Teddy Q
Jonathan Joss – Denali
Emil Beheshti – Maxwell
Mark Ashworth – Preacher
Billy Slaughter – Josiah
Carrie Lazar – Leni Frankel