Jonah Hex – DVD Review
By Jeff Swindoll Oct 15, 2010, 14:57 GMT
Out of the pages of the legendary comics and graphic novels steps Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin), a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last resort who can track anyone... and anything. Having survived death, Jonah\'s violent history is steeped in myth and legend and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one on the "other side." His one human connection is with Lilah (Megan Fox), whose life ...more
It may not be as ugly as its protagonist, but Jonah Hex may not be the bomb of a film you’ve been lead to believe. It misses more than it hits quite a lot and feels like the studio may have tinkered with it, but it can entertain you if you’re not too picky.
Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) has a hideous scarred face and a grudge. The man responsible for both is Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), his former Confederate commanding officer during the Civil War.
Turnbull becomes a terrorist who decides to kill civilians to strike fear into the Union forces and Hex had none of it. He betrayed Turnbull to the Union, but he escaped and his son (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was killed.
Turnbull’s revenge was swift and violent. He orders his henchman Burke (Michael Fassbender) to burn down Hex’s house with his wife and child inside, but he leaves Hex alive to suffer the loss - not before he puts his white hot branding iron to his face to have a permanent reminder.
Hex recovers with the help of some Indians whose spiritual interventions bring him back from the brink of death and give him the ability to communicate with the dead. Hex goes on to hunt Turnbull down for revenge, but his prey is killed in a hotel fire.
Hex then goes on to take his ugly mug and damaged soul into a more profitable profession as a bounty hunter - a profession he excels at. The problem is that Turnbull isn’t dead and President Ulysses S. Grant (Aidan Quinn) discovers that he is planning a world shattering conflagration on July 4th, 1876 to make the South rise again.
He calls on Hex, who is found carousing with whore Lilah (Megan Fox), to track down Turnbull and keep the country together.
Jonah Hex was a DC Comics character that appeared in 1972. I have a vague familiarity with Hex and his scarred mug and parboiled eye are not hard to forget. It’s my understanding that the comic was a western revenge tale and the supernatural didn’t really come into play until later versions.
What I have more familiarity with is that Jonah Hex, the movie, was pretty universally panned and was one of the biggest flops of this year. The film had a 50 million dollar budget and made just over 10 million at the box office. The film also seemed to have fingerprints all over it.
The narrative ran about 73 minutes and was bolstered to 81 minutes when you added the closing credits or that was one of the complaints rendered. Running times are subjective to me since some of those fun films from the 40s ran a brief 68 minutes (I’m looking at you Charlie Chan) and they still had enough time to entertain (and you could even have double features that wouldn’t leave the audience exhausted).
I will say this about Hex, the short running time moves breezily along, but it makes you think that something is missing - hence the thought that Warner Brothers edited it down.
I don’t know what the behind-the-scenes gossip of that is, but it sure seems like it has been edited down especially for that lusted after PG-13 rating. Although truth be told, I thought the vitriol spewed at the film seemed a tad unwarranted. Honestly, it still is a half-baked film, but not the groaner you may have thought.
Let’s start with the good: Josh Brolin is pretty good as the Hex. He’s spared the dead eye of the character and has a permanent snarl delivery thanks to the makeup but he makes an impression. You also see that much of that budget went up on the screen with all the sets, effects, and gloss before you. The bad includes a less-than-stellar villain. Malkovich is on autopilot and really doesn’t put much gusto into Turnbull. We know why Hex wants to lay waste to him, but Turnbull is so laconic that we don’t care much about Hex’s righteous vengeance. For being so short, the film is full of superfluous characters.
Megan Fox, given big billing and appearances in all the ads, doesn’t have much to do. She appears in the beginning of the movie (looking oddly like CGI was applied to her face to smooth it) and only returns towards the end to serve as bait for Turnbull. Her character could’ve been cut out of the film and we probably wouldn’t notice.
Fassbender’s thug Burke is about the same, though he makes more of an impression than the main villain. Other characters are given short shrift, such as Wes Bentley who appears and disappears so quickly, that we again begin to wonder about massive amounts of editing or studio interference.
I will admit that I hated Will Smith’s Wild Wild West much more, but I was a fan of the show. Hex comic fans may hate this film just as much. I thought it was a flawed, but vaguely entertaining film. I’ve seen much worse.
Jonah Hex is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The only special features are 5 minutes of inconsequential deleted scenes. Come on now, you know that much more hit the cutting room floor. A director’s cut may have also enhanced the film. I don’t know if we will ever see one given the box office from the film was so dire.
Jonah Hex may not be as bad as you thought, but it’s not good. Still, it’s not as horrible as some direct-to-home video hot messes I’ve seen (Lost Boys: The Thirst, I am looking at you).
Brolin is actually pretty good in the title role, but the whole film seems to have been edited to death. We certainly won’t see Jonah Hex 2 though. Your mileage may vary as far as your enjoyment of it.
Visit the DVD database for more information.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CJohn Malkovich Biography -
John Malkovich Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesJosh Brolin Biography -
Josh Brolin Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesMegan Fox Biography -
Megan Fox Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesMichael Fassbender Biography -
Michael Fassbender Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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