Another summer, another comic book move. Jonah Hex, director Jimmy
Hayward's adaptation of the DC Comics series about a disfigured, vengeful gunslinger,
premieres this weekend. Movie-goers are already skeptical: despite a
star-studded cast (including sometime lout Josh Brolin and perpetual
dreamgirl Megan Fox), the jumbled plot and unusually short running-time of 80 minutes have left some wondering if Hollywood's comic-book mania has produced yet another train wreck.
Unfortunately for Hayward and Warner Bros, the critics are affirming the
worst fears of comic buffs nationwide.
- A Mish Mash of Awful
"It's based on some DC Comics characters, which may explain the way the
plot jumps around," writes Roger
Ebert, alluding to 2009's Watchmen. "We
hear a lot about graphic novels, but this is more of a graphic anthology
of strange occult ideas." Ebert scoffs at the other haphazard features
of the film, from the constantly shifting landscape of the film ("Jonah
Hex" is a Western set around the town of Stunk Crick, although that
doesn't entirely explain why the climactic scene involves an attack on
the U. S. Capitol Building in Washington....Using my powers of logic, I
deduce that the characters traveled there from Stunk Crick. The movie is
not precise in its geography") to the extraneous role Lilah, a hooker
and Jonah's love interest. "The presence of Lilah in the film is easily
explained: She is played by Megan Fox" giggles Ebert. "If you want a
woman in an old western town, there are only three occupations open to
her, hooking, schoolmarming, and anyone called Ma."
- Bad, Even For
Bad Movies The AV Club's Keith Phipps
laments the days when bad movies were somewhat good: "Bad movies aren’t
what they used to be. More specifically, bad movies that make it into
theaters these days usually have a base level of competence that sets
them apart from the bad movies of yesteryear. Dullness dwells where
incompetence used to call home. The Raja Gosnells far outnumber the Ed
Woods. But every once in a while, a film limps into theaters so stitched
together, it’s a wonder it doesn’t rip apart in the projector. Jonah
Hex is such a film." Like Ebert, Phipps traces some of the film's morass to its overly hurried production. Among
Phipps's complaints: "A fight scene with no dreamlike elements, apart
from a sky tinted red in post-production, repeatedly appears as a dream
sequence. A chunk of Hex’s origin is told by way of animation for no
apparent reason. Narration comes and goes. Whole elements, like Hex’s
supernatural powers and Megan Fox’s prostitute-in-distress, could
disappear without anyone noticing." You can almost hear Phipps sigh with exasperation. "And that’s without even mentioning the Native American
village that shows up at random."
- A Hot Mess The Los Angeles
Sharkey gives no quarter in tearing apart Hayward's baby, dubbing
the film everything from "a smoldering ash heap " to "the latest DC
Comics transmogrification into mega-action mess." While Sharkey concedes
that the story effectively conveys the comic book theme of mixing the
real and mythical--with fairly decent visual effects to boot--she lays into the writers. "Writers Neveldine & Taylor, who I gather
aren't using their first names to protect the family's rep, have found a
way to turn biblical references into bad dialogue at head-turning speed
while making 83 minutes feel like a lifetime."
- Without Substance "When the biggest buzz online about your movie concerns whether
its running time is 72 or 73 minutes, you know your film is
trouble," write the Wall Street Journal's staff. "Jonah Hex also boasts
a fair number of good actors, including John Malkovich, Will Arnett,
Michael Fassbender, Wes Bentley and Michael Shannon — too bad each isn’t
given that much to do"
- And I
Care...Why? The Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan is thoroughly unimpressed. "'Jonah Hex' may not be the longest 81 minutes you
ever spend, but it might well be the most tedious," seethes the film
critic, decrying the inability of the film to draw the audience in. "Will Hex catch Turnbull? And will he be able to stop him in his
fiendish plan to attack Washington with a secret, and wildly
implausible, super-weapon? Who cares....Like Hex himself, the movie may
not exactly be dead, but it sure as heck ain't living."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
jkeller at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.