Archive for the ‘Wild Wild West’ Category

Wild Wild West

December 21, 1999

In Men in Black, Will Smith teamed up with director Barry Sonnenfeld to produce a movie that was high on special effects and perhaps a little low on plot. That film’s saving grace was the appealing performances of Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, as well as the clever script, which gave the actors plenty of throwaway lines. With that kind of pedigree, the expectations of the 90’s version of the 60’s show The Wild, Wild West were fairly high, and the movie was endlessly hyped as yet another ‘movie event.’

But the result is kind of like Men in Black on a bad day. Smith’s character, intended to have the same kind of devil-may-care attitude that Mel Gibson’s had in the Lethal Weapon movies, comes off as not only thoroughly obnoxious but also incredibly stupid. We’ve all seen films in which the protagonist is foolhardy and illogical in his never-ending quest for justice. Smith’s Jim West comes off as selfish instead of philanthropic, thick-headed instead of cunning, smug instead of suave. He’s not a daring secret agent – he’s nothing more than a stereotypical arrogant cop.

Smith gives the worst performance in the film, but he’s not alone. While Kevin Kline (as Artemus Gordon) and Salma Hayek come off okay, Kenneth Branaugh (yes, the Shakesperian!!) is all wrong as the evil Dr. Loveless. He’s way, way, way over the top. For someone who once played Hamlet, this is a major comedown. Can anyone say “Orson Welles”? I knew you could! Remember when, years after Welles did Macbeth and was a regular in Shakespeare’s plays on Broadway, he was found in horrible dreck like Transformers and Slapstick of Another Kind. Is this once-great actor wandering down this path? He may not have Welles’ corpulence, but he sure has the hamminess!

All in all, this is a waste of energy. Special effects are fine, but in this day and age, they’re really not all that special, are they?