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Wild Wild West

Review by Jason Morrison

Wow, was this movie terrible. I mean truly bad. I was actually looking forward to it, too-- sure, I thought, another Will Smith summer action movie won't cure cancer, but it's entertainment. Men In Black was fun. ID4 was more of a roller coaster than a movie, but last I checked you had to pay $40 to ride the coasters, and $6.50 to get in a theater, so who's complaining?

Plus, all sorts of cool steam-powered mechs and robots and gadgets and some raucous fist fights? Bring it on! I love that kind of Difference Engine stuff.

But it was so bad. Did you see the preview? Then you've seen the movie. When I saw the part in the preview where Kevin Kline's character presses a button and a hammer comes down to knock Will Smith on to a table, straps him in and swings him under the train, I figured there'd be all sorts of crazy gadget hijinks and fast-paced comic action. You know, Smith getting all frustrated while Kline makes all sorts of improbable things happen in the train car? Nope. That's it. Hammer, table, Kline slips on a banana peel or something stupid like that, and that's it.

Maybe I've been spoiled by Jackie Chan, but I like action sequences to be creative and have, well, action. What was there was just plain average. The fights, even with steam-powered goons and a giant spider-robot, were predictable and about as interesting as a below-average episode of Renegade.

Smith is Jim West, a government agent who gets all the girls and saves the day all the time, and happens to be black, and this happens to be shortly post civil war. To tell you the truth I have no problem with that. He is, of course, not acting, but once again just being good old Will Smith, and again, no problem with that so long as the movie's still fun to watch.

Kline is Artemus Gordon, a government agent who would rather cross-dress than shoot his way through things. He has a rocket-powered bicycle.

They're both after Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), who was blown in half in the war and has now built a war machine (the spider) with which he will hold the country for ransom. Or more specifically, president Grant.

As any student of American history will tell you, Loveless would have done us a favor if he knocked off Grant. The guy was both incompetent and corrupt. But in this movie he's like Lincoln on steroids. That was annoying.

But no nearly annoying as any time Branagh appeared on screen. He has some weird, totally unconvincing accent he slipped in and out of and was constantly saying things that didn't really make sense. This was one of the worst performances all year.

Kline seemed to be phoning in his lines, as did the rest of the cast, except for Smith who quite convincingly played Will Smith.

Oh, and Salma Hayek was in the movie, I guess because she has nice breasts. Her character was a complete afterthought and didn't make any sense at all either.

There was one entertaining part of the movie. When West and Loveless first meet, they trade quips and puns, West making fun of Loveless losing his legs and Loveless bringing up the whole slavery thing. "A man of half you stature…" Ha!


(Out of five)

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