Day 21 - JONAH HEX


#762 - JONAH HEX

If I was at someone's house and we needed something to do - if there was no mediocre movie that I had not seen, or a good movie that I had seen, if there was no game on, if there was no episode of a mediocre TV show that I had not seen, or episode of a good TV show that I had seen, if the girl was not at least mediocre-looking (or the guy really really really good looking) - if we truly had nothing else to do, I would not mind watching JONAH HEX.

(How's that for an endorsement? Put my quote on the back of the DVD, Warner Bros.  I dare you!)

There's nothing super-terrible about JONAH HEX.  It doesn't suck on ice. (That should read "stink on ice" to hit the metaphor correctly, but I like my version better.)  It's just sort of there.

Confederate Chic, by Calvin Klein
Jonah is played by Josh Brolin, everyone's favorite surly actor of the past few years.  The character is basically an extension of Brolin's Llewelyn Moss in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, if Moss had  survived his confrontation with Anton Chigurh sans family and worse for wear.

For you see, Jonah Hex does lose his family, and is branded to boot, in the opening sequence, by one Quentin Turnbull (played with "buy a roll of stamps and mail it in" ho-hummedness by John Malkovich), for reasons initially unclear. Hex dies - no wait! - he doesn't; brought back to life by American Indians, and tries to chase down Turnbull.  When Turnbull pulls the meanest trick of all - dying - Hex becomes a bounty hunter.

They could have called this movie "Being John Malkovich and Not Giving a Shit"
We learn all this in the first five minutes, and sure, it could have taken longer, but we got things to do, for low and behold, soon we discover that Turnbull is still really alive, and planing to destroy the good ol' U.S. of A. on its Centennial birthday (that's 1876, for those of you from Missouri), as payback for the Civil War.

If you think I've given anything away you really don't understand this type of movie.

There are some interesting parts.  Aidan Quinn shows up as President Grant; I like Quinn no matter what he's up to. And Will Arnett shows up as a Union Army Captain, futher cementing the reputation (that we started learning a few weeks ago with his new FOX comedy Running Wilde) that Gob Bluth might be the only character Arnett can play.

Megan's only job was to look good sweating in a corset. Mission accomplished!
Perhaps most hilarious, Megan Fox shows up as a hard-edged prostitute with soft-spot for the disfigured. My favorite part of this subplot is not her by-the-numbers not-a-surprise-in-sight performance, but the fact that apparently the producers did not have the budget to hide her "Brian" tattoo, for current/ex/whoknows boyfriend Brian Austin-Green of 90210 fame. (Seriously: click on the picture for full-size and you'll see what I mean; it's right below the money.)

Also, Hex can talk to dead people, although there is rules and stuff. (Ain't there always?)  This is by far the most interesting part of the movie, and made me wish there was more of it.  There is also this evil snake-dude who spits venom who chews on Bo Duke - wanted to see that developed too.

In fact, JONAH HEX would have made much much much more sense as a Television show, which is not surprising seeing as how it was adapted from a graphic-novel comic. I learn from Wikipedia that originally they tried that route but were pushed to a movie instead.

I understand the reasoning (money), but why not try to make a good movie, or at least one that lasts a little longer?  HEX is listed at 82 minutes, but that's B.S. The first minute and a half Studio logos, and at 73 minutes the credits start rolling.  What's left is lean, mean, and very very short on exposition.  It's not entirely bad - sometimes origin stories get a little tiresome, but some more meat could have made for a finer meal.

JONAH HEX reminds me a lot of WILD WILD WEST, in that it has a Western feel, there is the Steampunk aspect (where non-existent Sci-Fi technology is set in the Past), there's a Southern General trying to destroy America with a weapon of mass destruction, and you can't help but smile at who plays President Grant. I was also reminded of CONSTANTINE (dealing with the Underworld), and given that Hex was difficult to look at, I kept thinking of Nancy Grace.

Reading my review back over, it seems pretty negative, which is both true and misleading.  There is simply no way I would ever pay to watch this movie, but it wasn't offensive or anything.  About the only part that bothered me was when Hex tells President Grant (in July of 1876) to come find him if the country needs help again. Grant left office in early '77, making the conversation somewhat anachronistic.

I don't know if Hex knew that. I don't know if any of the filmmakers knew that. I know it really doesn't matter - it's just a friendly gripe.  And in the end, that's all I'm doing here: some friendly griping over a movie that really doesn't matter.

[Want a much better idea than watching JONAH HEX? DC Comics released an 11 minute R-rated animated Short with their terrific "Batman: Under the Red Hood" DVD. Watch it on YouTube or below (full-screen has good resolution).]

Unless you're too scared, Go to the 31 Days of RAWR!

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