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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 88 - Wild Wild West (1999)

Another example of Hollywood excess, Wild Wild West is an uninspired, over-produced mess.  The film stars mega-über-ultra star Will Smith and regular star Kevin Klein as they trade one-liners and face off against Kenneth Branagh’s Dr. Arliss Loveless.  The film is a special-effects-ridden adaptation of a popular television show from the 1960’s and, just like every other Hollywood reboot, is completely unnecessary and in no way manages to capture the feel and fun of the source material.  

Arliss Loveless threatens the stability of post-Civil-War-America and so President Grant teams up former soldier Jim West with Marshall Artemis Gordon to take him down.  Along the way they join ranks with the daughter of a kidnapped scientist (Salma Hayek) who comes between the two men.  The film features a number of compromising situations, features Klein’s character in a number of silly and unnecessary disguises, and has a number of really stupid reaction shots that make this feel less like a big-budget action flick and more like a straight-to-video Disney movie.

The formula for Wild Wild West is as follows:  One of the protagonists is in some form of danger, West does something drastic and not well thought-out, Gordon yells at him for being stupid, Gordon tries an invention, it works to a point, we get “laughs” (or at least I think we were supposed to) as Jim West tries to adapt his style of justice to work with Gordon’s gadgets.  Repeat this over and over and over and you have this sloppy, silly movie.  It gets worse towards the end, when the movie jumps the shark with Loveless’s giant steam-powered mechanical spider.

Wild Wild West was directed by Barry Sonnefeld, who also directed Men In Black and the Adams Family Movies.  It doesn’t work.  It is paced poorly, written at a grade-school level and overacted by all involved.  It’s filled with pratfalls and uninspired humor making it feel very immature and the special effects merely mask how weak everything else, including and especially the underlying plot, is.  Oh!  And don't get me started on that dreadful pop-radio-friendly theme song Smith rapped for the film.  UGH!

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