Proof Review: Jonah Hex [3.0]

JONAH HEX || Jonah Hex is not a handsome man. With scars covering his body, a grimace in his jaw, and the strong hint of weathering in his face, the man is anything but ravishing. The same can be said for the film. Jonah Hex was not enticing or refined. The film lacked the arc of a plot, the grace of similar comic adaptations, and the allure of coherency. Despite all of these flaws, much like Jonah Hex himself, I still found an attraction.

Josh Brolin is a rough-and-tough western renegade, Jonah Hex, who, after losing his family ventures off as a bounty hunter. Megan Fox is a smoking hot, gun wielding prostitute looking to make Jonah Hex her man. John Malkovich resurrects his evil mastermind performance from Con Air as Quentin Turnbull, the man responsible for the death of Hex‘s family and, soon, the destruction of the United States. How, do you ask, could this film fail? Regardless of such a stacked deck, it does indeed fail.

The film lacks an arc. Instead of a beginning, a middle, and an end, the viewer is strung along on Hex’s mish-mash journey, flat and horizontally. Previous films have pulled off the lack of an arc, but still found ways to build the suspense leading up to fights and climaxes. Hex does not. The fights with prominent characters, like Michael Fassbender and John Malkovich, are thrown at you without warning (and not in a good way). Main characters are completely expendable (Will Arnett and Wes Bentley for example). Without anticipation, Jonah Hex just happens, with the viewer experiencing no emotion or investment.

Jonah Hex is D.C. Comics version of Marvel’s Ghost Rider. However, Ghost Rider was salvageable. Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Donal Logue, and Wes Bentley work well enough together that the film is worthwhile. Jonah Hex scatters its characters across the game board and expects all the elements to still fall together in an interesting pattern. This was not the result.

Apparently, according to the lore of Jonah Hex, starting fires and causing explosions was what the wild west was made of. I cannot recall a town that was left standing, besides the Capital, by the end of the film. The film did, however, bring to my attention (a) how flammable buildings supposedly are and (b) how buildings can apparently explode when doused in fire. The graphics of the film left much to be desired. The cannonball graphics were laughable and the golden orbs were extremely out of place.

The makers of the film would have aided themselves by viewing Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline before making Jonah Hex. The idea of “Steampunk” (fictional works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy -Wikipedia) was masterfully crafted in the production of that film. Jonah Hex tries to accommodate the idea of Steampunk, but lets its anachronistic tendencies fall to the wayside. The death harboring ship cannon is obviously out of place in the original Western world, yet no attention is brought to its disconnection.

Jonah Hex relies completely on its graphic novel origins. The creators somehow believe that by adapting the film from comics, there is no need to follow normal movie-making conventions. Jonah Hex gets thrown into the annals of better films like Sherlock Holmes, Ghost Rider, and Wild Wild West. Though the cast is not at their best, they are ultimately what wins me over the most about the film. Left wanting more Megan Fox and John Malkovich as these characters means the creators at least did something right. As long as you do not anticipate an award-winning film, Jonah Hex is still enjoyable and satisfies the war-mongering, arsonist/pyromaniac in all of us. Leaving the theater, I felt as though I did not enjoy the film as much as I did, but looking back and awarding it 3 Stars, it left at least some impression with me.

[Directed by Jimmy Hayward] [PG-13] [81 mins] [18 June 2010]

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