Wild Wild West

Starring: Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Salma Hayek, Kenneth Branagh 

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Released: 1999

Mood: If you have a date whom you invited over but now desperately want to ditch or any other houseguest overstaying their welcome, and need a means to repel a person at all costs.

I’ve been waiting a long time to find a quality movie that does justice to my love of paranormal and sci-fi Western stories. Wild Wild West is definitely not that movie. 

Not that I ever believed it would be.

It’s classed as a steampunk Western, but I sincerely hope no one really thinks it’s got anything to do with the Western genre. It’s about as Western as an English saddle. Sure, you could make a horse ‘go Western’ under that saddle, but at the end of the day it’s not f*cking Western and you look like an idiot

I can say that, I ride English.

Why am I even bothering to write a review? Because if a movie dares to call itself ‘Western’, it’s fair game.

Wild Wild West DVD

I have no idea what Wild Wild West is about. There are two guys, James West (Will Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline), who work as Secret Service agents for U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (also Kevin Kline). One of them is a steampunk science genius, and the other sounds like he’s from modern day Philly. Guess which is which.

I kind of understood that there were two bad guys. One was General ‘Bloodbath’ McGrath (Ted Levine) and one was Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh). I wasn’t clear on how anyone knew each other, or what the bad guys were really up to other than trying to do something bad to the President. 

There’s also a kidnapped scientist, not sure what happened there other than to give Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek) a reason to be in the movie. 

The only part of the entire movie that I enjoyed was Kevin Kline in drag. Everything else felt stupid and patronizing to the genre, and to moviegoers in general. Like the makers thought people wouldn’t notice the story was garbage because they invested so much budget into a giant mechanical steam-powered tarantula

illustration of a fancy moustache

The most annoying thing is that these are both SUPER F*CKING TALENTED actors. Kevin Kline was in Silverado, for crying out loud. And Will Smith has fantastic emotional range as a leading man in dramas and sci-fi movies – you could have put him in the Magnificent Seven remake and he’d have been awesome. 

Hell, I would have loved a Black Wild Bill Hickock played by Smith instead of Luke Hemsworth (Hickock). He would have been 10x more plausible in the role. 

My point is that both of them could handily lead a Western. What pisses me off is that you can tell they told Smith to ‘just do you’. There was zero attempt to have a Southern accent or speak like the other characters, which is obviously how the dialogue was written. It’s like the whole thing was created to be some sort of big VFX steampunk buddy cop flick. 

It doesn’t succeed. Although the dialogue is funny in its own way, the actors had nothing to work with and just kind of moved from scene to scene without any development. The action started out so big that there was nowhere to go. 

And I’m still not sure why Salma Hayek was there. The man she was searching for wasn’t her father, he was her husband? Huh?! 

Apparently Wild Wild West was nominated for eight Razzies at the 20th Golden Raspberry Awards, and won five – including Worst Picture and Worst Original Song. 

All I can say is it was f*cking well-deserved.

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