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We have a bunch of reviews of JONAH HEX! Things aren't looking up for the gunslinger...

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Recently, an early screening of Jonah Hex was held and it seems like a ton of AICNers were in attendance as we've gotten a half-dozen reviews from this screening. And the consensus isn't all that happy. Seems Mr. Hex might be floundering a bit... one of the below reviewers predicts this film will be considered one of the worst films of 2010 and the comparisons to WILD WILD WEST are abound. Let's dive in... beware of spoilers and keep in mind this is from a test screening and this isn't the finished cut. There may still be tweaks.
Hey Harry, Just got back from a test screening of Jonah Hex and figured you might want to hear about it. I'll try to keep this spoiler light but honestly there isn't much in the film you can't see coming a mile away. Basic plot outline, Josh Brolin plays a bounty hunter that looks like Two-Face. Origin story as told by serpia toned flashbacks: Used to fight for the South, didn't like the orders he was being given, so he turned on his squad, shot his Captain's son and then the Captain killed Jonah's family and burned his face. The Captain played by John Malkovich turns up (after having thought to be dead) with a new rebel army and a secret weapon. Government hires Hex to stop him. That's basically the whole film. The Good: Josh Brolin - does a great job as Jonah. The character is a mix of The Man with No Name and John Constantine. He’ll kill a few guys silently, say a short sarcastic one liner and then pick up a dead guy and interrogate his rotting spirit. He’s pretty good throughout the whole thing. The Opening Scene – Easily the best part of the film. Walks into a town and kills tons of people in a pretty badass fashion. Megan Fox – Honestly never been a fan, make jokes about her acting just like everyone else. But she actually does an alright job here. That said though, she basically gets three scenes. One with Jonah (which is supposed to establish a relationship but then she doesn’t see him again until the end), one with a bad guy and then she gets to show up at the climax and fire some guns (though does a good job). Michael Fassbender- Plays the main henchman, gets a nice little intro and then plays crazy second in command the rest of the film. The Bad: The Villain – I’m going to lean more on the writing but Malkovich seems to have phoned in his performance here. At one point he has to deliver his epic evil speech to his troops at the end, and he might as well of been sitting down reading the script for the first time. That said, he can only do what he’s given and that’s not much. He gets generic leader lines and shoots one or two people. No real depth and far from scary. The Ending – Okay so *SPOILER* here, basically the film decides that the magic element isn’t interesting enough. So instead they have the main problem be that Malkovich’s character has discovered and assembled this really big canon that he’s mounted on a boat and it fires what appears to be a dragonball and it makes whole towns explode. He is about to blow up Washington on the Eve of Independence Day when Jonah shows up to stop him. Every guy is shot and taken care of in seconds, Jonah wrestles Malkovich for a few seconds, manages to jam the canon and them ship blows up and that’s it. Honestly, although I hate to say it, the whole ending made me think of Wild Wild West. Same kind of look and feel, and just as uninteresting. *SPOILER END* The Generic: Everything else – Aside from some of Jonah’s dialogue, the writing is pretty plain and paint by numbers. He has a best friend he helped free from slavery we see once because he sells weapons like a new crossbow looking pistol that fires exploding bullets. Then we see the guy once at the end. No one really has much depth aside from Hex. The peak of the action is the opening scene and then from there it ranges from just “okay” to “was that really the best you thought up?”. There is about a 15 minute scene half way through where Jonah needs info so he goes to this guy who runs a boxing/fighting arena. They have a quick discussion and the whole time it keeps cutting back to this fight between a big guy and the “rattlesnake” which looked like something from the Descent except he did Kung-Fu. It goes on for a while and Jonah doesn’t even get any real info. The biggest disappointment I found is the magic, Jonah uses it to talk to a few dead guys throughout the film. Then there is a Native American scene where you get the crow barfing shot. They should have just gone that route and used it more, would have made it way more interesting. It was a test screening so not all the CGI was fine tuned but the whole film seemed done aside from a few shots. I know Mastodon is supposed to be doing the score and the first half of the film the music was pretty good but I did notice that during the whole climax the music being used was from 300 so guess that is still being worked on? Could be wrong though, but hopefully I’m not and they are going to change it. Movie is worth a watch for Brolin but honestly you could leave after the opening. (Also, they decided Jonah needed a pet dog, not sure why.)
Here's Jim "The Grit Kisser" Mitchner with his thoughts:
Hey Harry, I've never written before, but just got back from a screening of Jonah Hex. It seemed pretty late stage, some of the sound effects werent there, and some CGI wasn't finished but a lot of it was already done. I hadn't seen much on the site, and frankly before the other day this one wasn't even on my radar. I went into the screening knowing very little about the film, or the comic it's based on other than it's a western about a bounty hunter with a scarred face and there was a supernatural element. As for the film i know that Josh Brolin and John Malkovich starred which was enough to pique my interest. Even with low expectations this film was a complete and utter mess. For those not in the know, the film starts off with a scene, and animated back story sets things up. Jonah Hex(josh brolin) is a former Civil War soldier who fought for the south who's now a bounty hunter. He's got a nasty scar on his face that was given to him by his former commanding officer, Turnbull played by John Malcovich, as retaliation for killing Turnbull's son. Oh yeah, and for some reason he can talk to the dead. The movie started out fairly strong. The opening animation was very well done and sets up a lot of backstory in a way that doesnt waste a lot of time and lets us jump in with the character. There's also a couple of scenes that really show you how much of a bad-ass Jonah Hex is. At this point i was stoked, because although it was clearly aiming for PG-13, there was some good violence and the character of Jonah Hex is very well set up and though its a bit one dimensional Brolin gives a solid performance and does well with the material he's given. But very quickly the plot devolves into almost literally the exact same basic plot as Wild Wild West. I wish I was joking, but I'm not. As the film goes on there are two scenes are very very similar to scenes in Sherlock Holmes, and the film slips from something with some very real potential to an overly simple and far too familiar low rent summer action movie. The bad: I love Will Arnett, but he is horribly miscast here. He tries to have some gravitas here, but it was hard to separate Will Arnett and Gob Bluth and it took me out of the film in every scene. Maybe this wouldnt be as big of an issue to a non Arnett fan. A real serious problem is that both John Malkovich and Josh Brolin are great actors they're playing their parts from different places and together it just doesnt work. Josh Brolin is playing things pretty straight and very reserved, where Malkovich plays it pretty campy and its like oil and water. Megan Fox is as dull and cardboard as you'd expect her to be. There was lots of other things that really didn't work, mostly some obvious wink wink nudge nudge moments, and a couple moments where its clear the film makers think their audience is dumb and need things spelled out to them in awkward monologues. It's not all bad though, it's shot really well, the sets are great, and Brolin does a decent turn. But all in all, they've got their work cut out for them if they're going to try to fix this. If you decide to use this, can you credit me as Jim "The Grit Kisser" Mitchner?
And this is "Mattman."
Just caught a screening of Jonah Hex at The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles. We were told we were among the first to see the film. Effects were unfinished and the music was temporary (no sign of Mastodon), using some tracks from 3:10 to Yuma. The editing lacked polish, but I'm not sure any amount of polish or music can help this turd. The first scene introduces us to an overly happy Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) and his smiling wife and daughter. About five seconds later, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) bursts through the door, says some shit to the audience, err, to Jonah about how he wants revenge for Jonah killing his son in the Civil War. He forces Jonah to watch as his wife and daughter are burned alive, and then sticks a branding iron in Jonah's cheek. Cut to a very crude opening title sequence that is possibly meant to resemble comic book illustrations... I'm not exactly sure. It looked more like storyboard art, probably temporary. Years later Jonah is a badass gunslinger wandering from town to town. He's badly scarred, with some horrible rubber piece of skin stretching from one lip to the other. I know it's straight out of the comic, but the makeup is terrible, and clearly attempting to emulate Two-Face from Dark Knight, only without the aid of CG. It doesn't work at all, and it doesn't help that Jonah's ugly mug fills the screen for the majority of the film. Anyway, he kills a bunch of people with a chain gun and some annoying superfast editing, establishing that he's awesome. The death of Jonah's family doesn't seem like such a big deal, since he's now regularly banging prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold Megan Fox, who is dearly devoted to him for some unexplained reason. She appears at random points throughout the film, sporting a horrible southern accent (I think that's what she was going for), until it's time for her to get kidnapped and become a distressing damsel. Her character undermines the supposed tortured Jonah, who should be constantly mourning the tragic loss of his family while focused on destroying everyone responsible. But when you're plugging Megan Fox, who really gives a shit? Eventually we learn, without any prior indication, that Jonah can wake and interrogate the dead, like a less subtle version of that Asian guy in Lost. Handy talent. The origin of this fascinating supernatural ability isn't deemed worthy of any real explanation, aside from a throwaway line about how Jonah "came close to death" once. Apparently if you almost die, you can wake up dead people by touching them. Cool. Meanwhile, Malkovich gets his hands on some glowy orange balls that blow shit up real good and concocts a giant, chain-cannon mounted on a steel ship that looks like a design rejected from Wild Wild West (this film can't even successfully ripoff a BAD movie, let alone good ones). His plan? "Alright boys, let's blow up Washington D.C.!" Makes sense. If you're evil and come into possession of inexplicable nuclear balls, first thing you're gonna wanna do is blow up Washington. Jonah gets recruited by the president to save the day. He grumbles and growls his reluctance (cuz he's too cool to just say yes), and then proceeds to save the day, quite easily, and with a little bit of Young Anakin Skywalker dumbluck. I can tolerate a mediocre plot as long as I'm not bored out of my skull, but Jonah Hex meanders aimlessly for the majority of its runtime before finally reaching a VERY standard save the girl, stop the weapon of mass destruction, and kill the badguy climax. The random attempts at humor feel out of place in what should be a dark story. Jonah mumbles quips at his horse, and then collects an ugly stray dog and stares earnestly at it and grunts. A scene lingers on him trying to figure out what to say to the dog, before finally settling with, "I got nothing to say to you." The supernatural elements are few and far between, and ultimately feel out of place. This could have had a Dark Tower vibe to it, but instead it just feels like a standard western with the occasional weird magic shit thrown in. At one point, after another near death experience, Jonah has a dream about his dead wife and daughter, and then a raven literally flies out of his mouth. It makes no sense and is never explained. Apart from Josh Brolin, who does a serviceable job despite his distracting makeup, the acting is generally awful. Malkovich looks like he's tired of life. Fox looks like she's had one ambien too many. Michael Fassbender, who was amazing in Inglourious Basterds, plays an Irish villain who prances around the streets with a ridiculously exaggerated accent. He chases Hex around with a lit stick of dynamite before tossing it in the air and letting it explode above him. The film is littered with this kind of random nonsense. Possibly the worst crime of all is the movie has no distinctive style. The cinematography is flat as can be. In a western, I expect everything to be larger than life. I loved the dark look of the poster, but that's not this movie. Everything is bright and sunny. Also, while some very nasty things occur, you don't actually see any of it. This is a very PG-13 movie, despite it's dark themes, and there's never any real sense of danger. I was really looking forward to this. Jonah Hex is an interesting character deserving of something far better than this. As it stands, audiences previously unfamiliar with Hex will be left wondering why he deserved a movie at all. I'm Mattman.
Yikes. Now here's "SCRW WZRD."
Hey Harry, Yesterday at the Bridge, in Los Angeles, there were two screenings of "Jonah Hex." They claim we were the first to see the movie. I won't spoil anything beyond the setup (first five min or so of the film) in this review. To keep it short, "Jonah Hex" is really bland. There's not a lot that's particularly bad, but there's hardly anything that's really good. The story follows Jonah Hex, who has been recruited by the US Government to hunt down Quentin Turnbull, who aims to bring America to its knees on the centenial. The film has a really good pace, coming in around 80 minutes. There are no confusing or convoluted sub-plots; it's really bare bones and straight forward. And although there isn't really any depth to the characters, they are consistent; they dont act out of character. That said, it's just bland. The climax is really boring, there is no romance (despite their weak attempts), and the movie just really lacks character moments. Like I said earlier, there's not a lot that's just BAD, but by far the worst part of the movie was this exposition scene at the beginning. Three stupid old me sit around a campfire and spell out the story of Jonah Hex, and holy cow it does NOT END. They spell out EVERYTHING. You can tell it was tacked on from the re-shoots because it tells just about every cool thing that is later revealed. For example, there's this great scene, the first time we see Hex talk to a dead person. The way it's set up, it would have been a really awesome reveal! But we already know he can talk to the dead because the three old men told us about 5 minutes into the movie. The scene really talks down to the audience and says nothing that isnt more creatively revealed later. The other BAD is Megan Fox. Now, I dont like Megan Fox but I give everyone a chance. Like Will Arnett. Job has a serious roll in "Jonah Hex," but I gave him a chance and he pulled it off pretty well! But man, Fox is just so flat! She does nothing except look hot in a really sexy prostitute outfit. As an actor, she never makes the character likable. Even though she's badass in some scenes, she's always cold. Contrast this with Josh Brolin, who is fantastic as Jonah Hex. Here's this ugly man who is full of hate, but he still manages to crack some wit and charm through the disgusting scars on his face. Josh Brolin really is great as Jonah Hex. He delivers a really strong performance that's awesome and even emotional when necessary. He's also got wonderful one liners and some kick ass weapons, which you see in the SyFy preview that hit the web this morning. A lot of that preview (the daylight shots) is from the opening scene, which is just wonderful. If only the rest of the movie was like the opening! It's got a great tone and it's tons of fun. The opening is sadly one of the best scenes, and certainly the best action scene, in the movie. I have to wonder if the rest of the film looked like this opening before re-shoots, because it really sticks out from the rest of the film. There aren't a lot of scenes that look or feel like it. On Chud last week, someone pondered if he'd be writing another story comparing "Jonah Hex" to the superior shooting script, and I have a hunch that's a yes. So overall, "Jonah Hex" was a big "meh." If you post this, call me "SCRW WZRD"
And probably the most negative of them all:
Harry, We met briefly last year at comic-con after the Nick Simmons (*cough*plagarizingdouchebag*cough*) show at the hard rock hotel. In a convenient segue, I also met one of my favorite comic writers that night, Jimmy Palmiotti. Jonah Hex is one of the few comics I read regularly, and as a fan, I was excited to see a sneak preview of the upcoming film. Unfortunately, it was a complete disaster. Anyone who loves the comic needs to stay far, far away from this film. It’s a heartbreaker. Jesus, where to start? The short version is this: The film is more “Wild, Wild West” than “Fistful of Dollars”. Instead of creating a simple revenge tale steeped in spaghetti western style, they’ve created a goofy, supernatural, formulaic mess that involves a “nation destroying” super weapon created by Eli Whitney. (that is not a typo. Apparently the cotton gin guy also created super weapons, go figure.) The departures from source material come early and often, and are extremely silly. Gone are Hex’s abusive alcoholic father and abandonment to Indians that disfigure him in a coming of age ritual. In their place is a happy and idyllic Indian wife and son that are ripped from his arms and set ablaze by his nemesis, Quentin Turnbull, within the first 5 minutes. After an exposition packed credit sequence that explains Hex was rescued by Indians, given the power to speak to the dead (more on that later!) and has been chasing Turnbull for years only to have the old bastard to die in a hotel fire before he could exact his revenge (?!) we are plunked into a classic Hex scene— Having delivered the bodies of several wanted men to the local authorities, the mayor attempts to lawyer his way out of paying. Upset, Hex demands his pay and the mayor commands his men to “cut him down!”. (Listen closely, kids! This is where it gets good…) instead of pulling his pistols with lightning speed, Hex rears his horse up to reveal MASSIVE GATLING GUNS mounted to each side! The horse (a painfully obvious stuffed fake on a pivot joint) waves back and forth as Hex dutifully cranks away, gunning down the entire group. I shit you not. The entire audience let out a collective “What. The. Fuck.” It was at this point that all the studio people got up and left. Too bad, because later, he gets mini-crossbow guns that shoot dynamite! I’m sure they wish they hadn’t missed that… In the most bizarre change from source material, Hex can speak to the dead. He literally grabs them, and they reanimate, made fully flesh, and he interrogates them for information. Handy! I’ve only been reading Hex since the relaunch, but I never saw any stupid, supernatural bullshit where he could communicate with the deceased. This one was baffling to me. Why do this? He’s a gunslinger and a bounty hunter. You can’t tell an interesting story with that? You have to make him supernatural? It’s revealed that Turnbull (in another phoned-in performance by Malkovich, SIGH) is still alive and is raiding government trains and depots for the parts needed to recreate the previously mentioned super weapon, with the ultimate goal of destroying the united states (on the fourth of July!!!!!!111eleventy1!terrorist!!americafuckyeah!) Once assembled and placed on his warship, however, the design looks like a multi-barreled cannon that was rejected from “Wild, Wild West”. The icing on the cake comes when Turnbull prepares to fire on the newly constructed Capitol Building. Looking through the aiming reticule we see that it is not a crosshair, but is shaped JUST LIKE THE CAPITOL BUILDING! And look at that, it fits perfectly around the Capitol! That’s gotta be a sure shot, right? (I wish I was making this shit up.) The performances are uneven and painful. Brolin manages to be watchable, and the delivery of some of his lines is exactly as I’d imaged the character to be, but ultimately his performance falls flat. As stated, Malkovich phones it in, spotty southern accent and all. And Fox is a throw away, both in performance and necessity to the “story”. (she’s a hooker, but you know she has a heart of gold because after each trick, she puts her money in a little box with a picture of a farm in it! GROAN!) The truth is, the studio knows it has a dog on its hands. The studio reps tucked in the upper corner of the theater left after the howling reaction to the horse mounted gatling guns, and the entire questionnaire was geared towards the problems of the film. Specific questions asked for least favorite elements, what should be changed and where the movie was least enjoyable. Sadly, there’s no fixing this one. The problems are deeply rooted, and can’t be solved with an edit. Massive reshoots would be required, and that’s not going to happen before the 18th of June. Be prepared, folks. It’s early in the year, but I think this could be the worst film of 2010.
So, yeah. All in all, things aren't looking up for Mr. Hex. The positive consensus seemed to be that Brolin brings his all, Megan Fox is hot and the flick is well shot. The negative consensus seems to be everything else. Hope they tweak this one a bit. I'd love it if they eeked out a win with some careful editing and reshoots, but I think we're going to be stuck with a something closer to the reviews posted above. -Quint quint@aintitcool.com Follow Me On Twitter



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