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"Jonah Hex" is a 2010 Western / Action film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, directed by Jimmy Hayward and starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and John Malkovich.
The movie opens during the American Civil War, Jonah Hex ( Josh Brolin ) is a confederate cavalryman under the command of General Quentin Turnbull ( John Malkovich ), Turnbull is obsessed with the fall of the union and orders Hex to burn down a hospital, Hex refused and was forced to kill his best friend, also Turnbulls son.
After the war is over seeking revenge Turnbull and a mob of his followers tie up Hex and force him to watch as his house is burned down while his wife and son are inside, Turnbull allows Hex to live hoping that he will die from thirst or exposure and scars him with a branding iron on his face with the letters QT ( Quentin Turnbull ) however Hex is rescued by some native americans who manage to bring him back from the dead, however apparantly they couldn't bring "all of him back" and Hex is left with the ability to communicate with the recent dead, touching them and being able to speak with them for a period of time.
Hex vows to take his revenge on Turnbull but learns that he has died in a hotel fire and so becomes a bounty hunter, but soon enough Turnbull resurfaces with his men and steals a powerful weapon, which forces the US government to enlist the help of Hex and enables Hex to complete his quest to take revenge.
Jonah Hex suffers from I believe too many writers on the project wanting to cram too many storylines and characters into such a small amount of time ( amazingly enough for a feature film it only runs 81 minutes ).
I think Brolin does a good job of portraying Hex ( not being familiar with the character though ) and is convincing as the tortured lawman, and the movie is stylish in places with some very cool sequences. but its where it counts where the movie fails, the plot is wafer thin and there isn't enough time spent building up Hex's backstory ( most of it is done in brief flashbacks ) and as such just screams that the whole project was rushed.
The supporting cast do an OK job, Malkovich's acting muscles are barely flexed here and you get the impression he was really just doing this for a pay cheque, Megan Fox doesn't need to give a decent performance, she just can continue to look smoking hot as she does in this movie and people will pay attention ( I know I did !! )
Overall this is quite the weak movie, I guess if you're a fan of the original subject material then great, but if you're looking for an entertaining superhero / comic book movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through you may want to look elsewhere for your thrills
(Film Only Review)
'Jonah Hex' is yet another comic book adaptation to follow on from the success of the superhero films Batman, Superman, Spiderman franchises as well as the more fantasy/history based graphic novels like '300', 'Solomon Kane' or 'Conan the Barbarian'. I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with the original Western themed comic created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga and published by DC Comics. I was looking forward to something with an unusual twist to the comic book genre. Jonah Hex first appeared as a minor DC Comics character in 1972 but soon after had enough of popularity to become the lead character in the comic-book Weird West Tales. He later gained his own title Jonah Hex, which ran from 1977 to 1985. The character is less superhero and more a Western Gothic character, mixing traditional western stories with the supernatural much in the same way that Clint Eastwood did in 'High Plains Drifter'.
During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex was a Confederate officer until his commanding officer, General Quentin Turnbull ordered him to burn down a hospital full of innocent people. Hex refuses, and in the ensuing argument was forced to kill, Turnbull's son Jeb. After the war, Turnbull takes revenge and holding Hex prisoner he forces him to watch as his family is burnt alive Turnbull then brands Hex's face with his initials and leaves him to die tied to a cross. Just as Hex is on the point of death Jonah is found by a tribe of Native Americans and revive him using magical powers. The experience leaves Hex with the ability to talk to the dead. Hex seeks revenge on Turnball for the murder of his family but when Turnbull apparently perishes in a hotel fire Hex turns his hatred to other outlaws and criminals and becomes one of the frontier's most feared bounty hunters. It's not long before his special abilities are sought after by the President in order to deal with a national emergency and Hex discovers that his nemesis Turnbull might not be dead after all.
I've read some scathing reviews of this film from plenty of people and so didn't go and see it on its release despite being a genre I would quite enjoy but when I had the chance to watch on DVD I still thought it would be worth a try and to be honest ended up I liking it a lot more than I ever imagined I would.
The film starts with a long narrative piece accompanied by comic book style animation that briefly tells the story of how Hex comes to be a bounty hunter, I thought this short exert worked really well and the animation was stylish and effective. The beginning of the film reminded me of the early spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood as the 'man with no name' also a bounty hunter. In the opening live action scene Hex rides into town trailing the bodies of some recently killed outlaws on the end of a rope, against a building we see a row of coffins waiting to be filled the scene is so reminiscent of the famous coffin scene in 'A Fistful of Dollars' that it would be too much of a coincidence for one not to have influenced the other.
The look of the film is good, the frontiers towns of the post civil war west are suitably run down and grimy, the people look desperate enough and you can smell the sweat on their dust coated clothes.
Also to admire is the imagination that was used in the sequences where Hex talks to the dead. He has to touch a corpse for it to come back to life (only to his eyes) and thus he can ask questions of them as he hunts down criminals they had known when alive.
Josh Brolin is fine as Hex, a angry brooding character whose life has been torn apart by the murder of his family and whose vengeful focus has been denied to him by the apparent death of his greatest enemy. As usual John Malkovic delivers a manic over the top performance as the evil General Turnbull with good support from Michael Fassbender as his psychotic Irish side kick Burke.
The love interest is provided by the very good looking Megan Fox as the prostitute who cares for Hex for more than professional reasons.
The plot involving a new super weapon stolen from the government about to be used by terrorist to destabilise the fledgling American Union is a little silly but the special effect and CGI are very well executed. The film obviously had a decent budget thrown at it.
Maybe the film's failing lie with the director Jimmy Hayward's lack of experience in live-action films only having directed the animated 'Horton Hears a Who!' in 2008. He doesn't make the most of the scenes with special effects, which are visually stunning in some nicely choreographed set pieces. Even though they are exciting you never fully engage in the action and overall it all leaves you a little flat. The film never seems to have the conviction in the genre and the violence never reaches the brutality of better films like '300' and 'Sin City', which is a bad thing. After a promising beginning you are left wanting a little more.
One of my biggest gripe with this film was that possibly due to the extensive facial make up worn by Brolin; I couldn't always make out what he was saying. Maybe his gruff expression and growled diction was all part of his character trait.
Josh Brolin ... Jonah Hex
John Malkovich ...Quentin Turnbull
Megan Fox ... Lilah
Michael Fassbender ... Burke
Will Arnett ...Lieutenant Grass
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Runtime: 81 min
Overall I thought this was a fairly good film as adaptations go, certainly better than most (thinking of 'Solomon Kane' for instance). Yes the plot was ludicrous but taking into account some solid performances by Brolin, Malkovic, Fox and Fassbender, some very well done action sequences and some imaginative visuals I thought it more than made up for it. This is by no means a classic but certainly worth a watch on DVD.
'Jonah Hex' on DVD is available from Amazon for £3.99 with free delivery at the time of writing this review.
Worth a watch.
Jonah Hex is yet another comic book adaptation coming at a time when such films are becoming positively common-place to the point where the market is rapidly being flooded. This year alone we can expect to see Green Lantern, Captain America and Transformers 3 to name just a few. It has lately become almost as though if a film cannot be tied in to a comic book series or toy franchise, its almost not worth studios banking on!
Jonah Hex can be fitted into two genres though. Not just a comic book, it is also a Western. Hex is a soldier during the American Civil war who is badly scarred and left disfigured. Facing near death, he is brought back to life by an Indian shaaman resulting in Hex developing special powers that allow him to temporary communicate with the recent dead. Approached by a goverment official, he is recruited as a bounty hunter as the only man who can take down megalomaniac, John Malkovitch, with whom he has had dealings with in the past. And so the scene is set for what should be a highly climatic showdown....
A straight-to-DVD film, this should be an instant wake-up call but Hex has an impressive cast on paper. As well as Malkovitch, the film also stars Josh Brolin and Megan Fox. But I have long been underwhelmed by Megan Fox's performances (all she appears to be is a pretty face with two big male-attractions on her chest) and Brolin is likewise far from making an impact on me after his roles in films such as No Country For Old Men which I found very disappointing!
I wanted to like Hex but it kind of lost me after the first few minutes. I didn't like the opening sequences where it is first explained how Hex gets his supernatural powers (it all felt a bit rushed to me) and though it had a few nice touches when someone asks about his scar, Hex replies "I cut myself shaving" just as in the comics), there are too many moments when the film treats the Western aspects almost like a joke. At tmes I was reminded of Blazing Saddles meets Wild Wild West with similar style futuristic weaponry used as was featured in the latter!
What is it about these films that attracts big name casts? Wild Wild West had Kenneth Branagh, this has Malkovitch and neither seems truly suited to their roles. Malky has played numerous bad guys and villains and so should have it down pat. My only reasoning is that here the scprit lets him down!
Truly, avoid this like the plague! There is a reason why it has been reduced in price so quick and its not a good reason!!!
One of the rare comic book characters I haven't really heard anything about, I went into this film with a completely open mind and no pretext of what the character or the plot should contain. After a promising opening of explosions, action and a heck of a lot of noise, I figured this would be another typical comic book adaptation, heavy on the action and light on the plot, with inevitable reference to its source of a comic book. I was wrong.
In fact, the first 15 mins and the last 10 are probably all you need to see, as not a whole lot happens in the middle. The film essentially pits the titular character, played moodily by Josh Brolin, against gung ho Confederate General Quentin Turnbull, with the Hollywood solidity of John Malkovich matching brolin for moodiness but going above and beyond in terms of dialogue. In fact, he does enough talking for the both of them, and with Malkovich's dry monotone that has become a bit of trademark, you'll find yourself wishing for someone with a bit more pizazz to their delivery, and not just with their pistols.
Hex can talk to the dead, and Turnbull wants everybody dead. The latter has become disenchanted with life, and seeks to destroy all that has wronged him, in his eyes, which is essentially the whole of the US. Labelled a terrorist, and certainly acting like one, estranged and untrusted antihero Hex is called in and a deal struck. I also suppose the fact that Turnbull murdered his family before his very eyes also helps persuade him to pursue the gung ho General. Thus ensues a very short series of chase scenes, minor plot developments, a disappointing level of support from the supporting cast (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Megan Fox and Will Arnett all fail to impress) and a predictable build up to the end. The only saving grace really is the performance of Michael Fassbender as the rather psychotic Burke, Turnbull's right hand man. Were it not for him, you could say that the entire cast had hit well below the mark.
I suppose it's a little unfair to judge Brolin on the performance here, as Hex is supposed to be a brooding and quiet character who does all the talking with his actions. The few scenes where he does his special 'thing' of talking to the dead by raising them from their graves and making physical contact with them are quite impressive, although the film is so flipping dark that it's hard to see exactly what's going on at these points. You wonder if they've deliberately made it dark so as to hide special effects and thus reduce the cost, or whether they're trying to set a graveyard like mood with the whole pale pastel colours and shades they use. Either way, it doesn't help, and these few potentially great moments are overshadowed by, well, shadows!
It's certainly an explosive film, and the action scenes are done well. At a running time of under an hour and a half, there isn't really any room for plot development beyond letting things run their course, and perhaps a bit more of Brolin brooding or a feeling of patience could have added some more atmosphere to things, as opposed to relying on fast paced high octane explosive action scenes to carry this through. The plot is shallow, nothing explored beyond its very basic and initial presentation. The balance of characters just helps give everyone someone to fight, and aside from the aforementioned action scenes, there's not really much to maintain your interest.
I've got to say, I was disappointed. Brolin had said that in all his years of acting, he'd never been so beat up and battered and bruised in having so much fun on set. The trailers promised so much more than we got, and it reminded me so much of Ghost Rider (still can't believe they're making a sequel to that drivel!) which was another utter disappointment. If what Brolin says is true, then perhaps the errors are within the editing room and on director Jimmy Hayward's lap. There's certainly potential, but when things are held together by explosions, you know that something has gone wrong. I honestly can't say I recommend this. I endeavour to watch all things related to comic books, and generally am very happy with even the most criticised of films, but I couldn't enjoy the majority of this, and 15 mins at the start and 10 mins at the end just aren't enough to make this worth a watch, in my opinion. Not recommended.