Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jonah Hex

As further evidence that I’m either a brilliant iconoclast tilting at the conventional wisdom or else just too damn weird for my own good, I watched the universally-reviled JONAH HEX and found it surprisingly entertaining.

Now, I’ve been reading Jonah Hex in comic books for close to forty years now, and don’t get me wrong: JONAH HEX the movie is nowhere near a faithful adaptation of the character. The back-story is the same, but just about everything else is different, as the filmmakers give Hex the supernatural power of being able to bring the dead back to life long enough to talk to them and find out things he needs to know and have him fighting an old enemy who has built a super-weapon (originally designed by Eli Whitney) that he intends to use in a series of terrorist attacks meant to bring the country to its knees. Hex, who at the beginning of the movie is a bounty hunter like in the comics, is recruited by the government to stop the bad guy’s plan.

Yes, it’s silly, but for somebody who’s never read the comics (like the people watching it with me), I think it’s a serviceable plot. Josh Brolin does a good job as Hex, although the scarred-face makeup didn’t look quite right to me, and John Malkovich chews the scenery just fine as the bad guy. Megan Fox plays a whore who’s an old friend of Hex’s but doesn’t have a lot to do.

I do have some complaints about the movie that have nothing to do with whether or not it’s faithful to the comic book. The movie calls itself a Western, and yet nearly the entire thing takes place in South Carolina and Virginia. It seems to me it would have been more effective if the writers had found some way to move the action out west. Also, the big centennial celebration at the end where the final showdown takes place never would have been held at night. In 1871, such things were held during the day. Also, for a movie with as many special effects as this one has, at times it looked surprisingly cheap, like the producers couldn’t afford enough extras to make things realistic.

A lot of critics complained about how short JONAH HEX is. Not counting the credits at the end, it runs about 75 minutes. Well, that didn’t bother me. There’s always a lot going on, and it didn’t seem like a particularly short movie. Hey, a lot of B-movies from Thirties, Forties, and Fifties managed to pack plenty of stuff into 75 minutes. I do think this one could have used a little more exposition, as some of the plot was a little hard to follow, but another five minutes or so would have done it.

Overall, I wouldn’t say JONAH HEX is a good movie, but it entertained me more than I expected it to. If you can just forget about the comic book, or have no knowledge of the comic book, it’s an okay way to pass some time.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I think this is about the closest you've come to a bad review.

Charles Gramlich said...

I felt sort of like you. I enjoyed it enough to get through it without yawning, but over all I didn't think it was a very good movie or a very good Jonah Hex movie.

Chris said...

I'm a huge fan of the comic. I think Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have done fantastic with this character, writing one-and-done stories (there has been only one multi-issue arc over the 60+ issue run, if I recall correctly) that capture the West with a lot of fun and bloodletting. So I was stoked when the movie was coming out . . . until I saw the previews.

That said, I enjoyed it enough. No, it's not a great movie. Yes, they would have done a lot better staying closer to the work that has established Hex as a movie-worthy character in the first place and, given the cast, they had a great opportunity to make a real GOOD movie. But for whatever reason they went a different direction and blew it. But for me, if I tune all that out, it's an enjoyable enough experience to watch.

But I'm a sucker. I like seeing characters riding around on horses shooting guns.

Evan Lewis said...

I was entertained enough, but I expected a little more Western and a little less Comic Book.