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5 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Jonah Hex
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Megan Needs A Shooter"
4 stars

“Jonah Hex” is essentially the cinematic equivalent of a hot dog from 7-Eleven--it appears to have been created entirely from random scraps picked up off of the floor and jammed together at random, it contains virtually no traces of anything remotely resembling nutritional value and it isn’t the sort of thing that most people would recommend to anyone that they hoped to retain as a friend or loved one in the immediate future. And yet, in much the same way that one of those otherwise suspect hot dogs can actually seem sort of satisfying under certain circumstances (usually after a long period of too little food and/or too much drinking), it is a film that turns out to be slightly more appetizing than it would initially appear to be and while it hardly constitutes a full artistic meal by any stretch of the imagination, it turns out to be easier to swallow and digest than most of the other offerings at the multiplex smorgasbord. (At this point, I would like to offer my assurance that the shaky and fairly tortured food metaphors will end as of right now.)

Based on a comic book that I have never heard of and neither have you, “Jonah Hex” is a fantasy-western that stars Josh Brolin as the title character, a one-time Confederate soldier (don’t worry--it turns out that he was one of those good and decent anti-slavery Confederates, according to the film’s lone African-American character who pops up for no other reason than to pass that information along) who defied an order from his crazed commanding officer, Quentin Turnball (John Malkovich), to burn down a hospital and killed his son in the ensuing skirmish before turning him in to the authorities. In response, Turnball killed Hex’s entire family before his eyes and branded his face before leaving him for dead. As it turns out, Hex didn’t quite die but somehow managed to acquire the power to talk with the dead by touching them and bringing them back to life. Now employed as a bounty hunter, he is pressed into service by the president (Aidan Quinn) when proto-terrorist Turnball resurfaces with a plan to launch a massive attack somewhere in the U.S. to coincide with the upcoming centennial celebration. Aiding Hex in his efforts to save the day is loyal prostitute Lilah (Megan Fox), whose central duty appears to be standing around in a series of revealing outfits and pouting mightily.

To put it kindly, “Jonah Hex” is a complete mess from start to finish. Between the abbreviated running time (the end credits kick in at around the 73-minute mark), the repeated use of patently unnecessary flashbacks and the utterly random ways in which scenes are put together and characters seem to come and go, it is clearly obvious that this is a film that has been the victim of an exceptionally brutal post-production process. As a result of all of this tinkering, very little of the film actually makes any sense--Hex’s backstory is reduced to practically nothing (perhaps not the smartest idea when you are dealing with a character that few members of the audience will be familiar with), his powers are barely defined and even the major gimmick of his being able to communicate with the dead is only brought up a couple of times before being abandoned. All of the action scenes are staged in such a confusing manner that it is only when they are all over that we can begin to figure what the hell just happened. And while the elaborate scar tissue that Hex sports on his face--the result of some long-ago Turnbull torture--may have looked neat in the pages of the comic book, actually replicating it on Brolin’s face has the unfortunate side effect of rendering most of his dialogue virtually unintelligible.

And yet, while the film may pretty much be a disaster by all generally accepted critical standards, I found myself looking upon it with a certain degree of affection as it rambled on its admittedly disorganized way. Perhaps this was because of the decidedly singular cast--besides the likes of Brolin (who is perhaps one of the few current male leads who looks reasonably at home in a Wild West milieu), Malkovich (who cheerfully chews every bit of available scenery that he can get his hands on) and Fox (who is actually on-screen for maybe 10 minutes tops), there are appearances from the eclectic likes of Michael Fassbender, Tom Wopat, Michael Shannon and, most inexplicably of all, Will Arnett in a non-comedic supporting role that nevertheless earns big laughs just from the sheer incredulity of his presence. Perhaps this was because every time the film threatened to flag (which is admittedly frequently), it would throw in some bit of weirdness into the proceedings to stir things up--my favorite being the arrival of a part-man, part-snake pit fighter for no other reason than to help kill off a secondary villain in an exceptionally colorful manner. Perhaps this was because the film never quite turns into the modern-day equivalent of “Wild, Wild West” that the crappy trailers and poor advance word suggested. Hell, perhaps it was just the simple fact that this is, I think, the first real American western to hit theaters since the “3:10 To Yuma” remake and I just appreciated the sheer novelty of getting to see such a thing once again on the big screen. Whatever the reason, the thing grew on me as it went on and I even found myself being somewhat charmed by its sloppy nature and the way that it unconsciously suggested the small-scale ambitions (though at a presumably enormous price) of any number of obscure B-movie oaters of similarly questionable artistic value that Hollywood used to grind out like clockwork.

Look, “Jonah Hex” is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination--it is too rambling and disorganized to work as a straightforward movie and not quite deranged enough to work as some kind of cult offering. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that you spend your hard-earned money to see it (or even sneak into the theater next door to catch it after watching “Toy Story 3”) and I am not certain that I would ever voluntarily sit through it again in my lifetime, even if a director’s cut hewing closer to its original conception ever came out. That said, I was never bored and I actually had a certain degree of fun while watching it, which is more than I can say for the experience of sitting through the likes of “Robin Hood” or “Prince of Persia.” Obviously, most of you will be seeing “Toy Story 3” this weekend but if you are feeling a little adventurous, you might consider giving “Jonah Hex” a shot. You could do worse and if you have been going to the movies this summer with any regularity, you most likely already have.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19471&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/18/10 00:04:31
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User Comments

9/19/18 Bored George If you're bored, this will kill 1.5 hours 3 stars
7/31/11 Chris F ok on a rainy day but not something i would watch again 3 stars
6/29/11 Kim Phan expected more from this! 2 stars
7/04/10 Duke of Omnium Somewhere, John Ford is rolling over in his grave. THIS is what the Western has come to? 1 stars
6/20/10 JEREMY This movie should have came out in the early '70s,when Westerns were still popular. 4 stars
6/20/10 Fred DuCoeur Absolutely terrible, possibly worst movie ever made 1 stars
6/20/10 Vlad the Criticizer So Sobczynski, it's a 4 star movie you'd never watch again? Weird review there, Pete. 1 stars
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  18-Jun-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-Oct-2010


  DVD: 12-Oct-2010

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