Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Review Monday

Jonah Hex (2010)

I've never been one to listen to critics (unless it's for a movie that I think is going to be terrible, then I read them to validate my own feelings). I think they are entitled to their own opinion, but I find that the movies they dislike are ones I think are wonderful. Which is why I don't understand why they thought this film was a complete and utter failure. I enjoyed it. I'm guessing it probably stemmed from uber fans who were expecting the movie to be like the comic book and it wasn't. I don't know. I've never read the comic book. But, as I learned at Mile Hi Con, movies and books (a comic book is still a book) have to be different.

This movie pretty much had it all. Bad guys (really cool bad guys who are just evil to the core), antiheroes, damsels in distress (sort of), a plot to destroy the world/U.S., and lots of explosions. Add into that some steam punk and supernatural elements and you're good to go. Maybe I just have simple tastes in films, but this movie kept me entertained. Plus, I really like Josh Brolin, so I had no complaints!

I thought the plot of terrorists working from the inside to bring down the U.S. was very apropo, too. We are still reeling from the events of 911, but we're also far enough removed from them that we can start talking about them through films. Recently, this discussion has taken place in films such as The Hurt Locker and other military films (which I can't remember off the top of my head!). Jonah Hex brings up the same types of fears and issues, but it does it from a fantasy perspective, so there can be a separation between actual events and the audience. It is actually very clever allegory.

Quentin Turnbull is a disgruntled Confederate General who is hell bent on getting revenge on the U.S. He is such a wonderful bad guy because he isn't bogged down with a conscious. He's just bad. He blows up women and children to make a point. He even blows up his own men. (Hmm, who does that sound like in the real world?) But he's smart. Same with his henchman, Burke. He does what he has to do to meet their goals, and he's willing to die for the cause. However, in the course of the film, the bad guys have to be defeated. It's the formula. Since we can't defeat the evil in the real world, we have to have some closure in the fantasy/film world, so the villains are destroyed. It gives the audience a sense of control.

As is the trend with movies nowadays, the hero is what can be considered an antihero. He's an antihero because he's not going after the bad guy for the good of the world, he's going after him for his own selfish ends/revenge, even though his defeat benefits everyone. Plus, he does it for the money. Most heroes won't take anything for their services. Jonah was also part of the Confederate Army, but turned on them when they started torching hospitals. There is the notion that he never really believed in the ideals of the Confederacy--he was married to a Native American, he never owned slaves, he turned on his own men--so it's OK for the audience to root for him. Despite the fact that he wears the Confederate hat and coat throughout the entire film, he's still one of us, not one of them. I think part of the reason he has the coat on is to separate him from us. Yeah, he's working as the good guy to rid the world of evil, but he's not exactly the same as us. He's in between worlds, the spiritual and the real, and also straddles the line between good and evil. Again, allegory. The reason he's so affective against the enemy is because he knows how they operate.

All in all, it was a really fun movie and a great social commentary. It had great actors and fabulous explosions. I recommend ignoring what the critics have to say and forming your own opinion about the film.

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