Since I'm a Marvel Comics geek, I can't claim to be all too knowledgeable about the DC/Vertigo comics line. In fact, I know very little about them since I could never truly get in to the characters. The heroes I couldn't associate with, the villains were about as treacherous as a guy who spits in a hamburger, and the supporting characters made Jar-Jar Binks seem calm and respectable. It was all just one big mess. Batman, the Joker, and maybe the Flash, I'll give them that much, but the rest of their 70 plus years of history? I'd not trade it for a single issue of Quasar or Howard the Duck.
I won't pretend that I know anything about the Jonah Hex character, his backstory, or various incarnations over the years. While I do love western cinema, I don't think I have even seen a western comic book, so their protagonists are all a big blank to me. In fact, if it weren't for the animated short found on the 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' Blu-ray, I never would have seen or read a single Jonah Hex story before watching the full length live action movie that DC and Warner Bros. have "bestowed" upon us.
Having seen the film, I really wish I could have watched the animated story six times in a row. In Portuguese. It still would have been more coherent and entertaining than the wretch of a disaster of a movie that is 'Jonah Hex.'
Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a bounty hunter and former confederate with a scarred face, a mark to remind him of when Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) killed his family and left him for dead. His brush with death has given him the ability to communicate with the dead, reanimating them, in a sense, for only him to see and hear. It's a good thing he doesn't die easily, because the newest treacherous plot from the maniacal Turnbull may change the very future of America as a whole. Hex has only one ally in his quest for revenge, a rough and tumble hooker named Lilah (Megan Fox). The US Army is helpless. Their only hope lies in a man with a price on his ugly mug, and a horse outfitted with some heavy firepower.
I think it may be quite funny that a horse capable of gunning down foes is more believable in this supernatural western "thriller" than most of the actors. It's a horn and a pair of wings short of being the most epic creature found this side of 'Gentlemen Broncos,' in a film that may be a new low in the comic movie genre. This is a film that has everything working against it. Most importantly...not enough machine gun horse.
The amazingly short runtime (around 77 minutes when you take away the credits) appears botched from reshoots, so I can't imagine how much worse it was originally. The story is weak, a series of ideas strung together with tons of filler to spackle over the gaps and connect them. The actors...I swear, this may be the worst cast in history. No, Brolin and Malkovich are quite fine in their roles, as their only problems are the words they have to say. Fox is in line for a Golden Raspberry award at the next Razzies ceremony, due to her complete unbelievability and lack of range, but she's not alone. Wil Arnett, box office/film poison that he is (see: 'The Brothers Solomon,' 'Spring Breakdown,' 'Hot Rod') gets an appearance as an army Lieutenant who enlists the criminal Hex, not quite grasping the fact that he's a supporting actor, not the lead. But don't forget, Wes Bentley, better known as that creepy kid from 'American Beauty' and that horrendously awful job in 'Ghost Rider,' takes a turn as a duplicitous businessman with some monster muttonchops. I mention his facial hair stylings, as they're the only thing that stands out about him, besides the fact that he couldn't act his way out of a floating plastic bag. It's the most awful thing I've seen in my life...
'Jonah Hex' has big, big problems. The lead character, honestly, has nothing to do with any of them. The direction, from Pixar alum Jimmy Hayward is amateur at best. The writing, from the guy who penned such intelligent films as 'Crank' and 'Gamer,' yeah, you see where that's going. The story drags along, never progressing at a rapid pace, never giving us any reason to truly care for the hero or despise the villain. Honestly, he gave Hex some pretty awesome looking facial scars, so I mean, he can't be that bad. His army of minions are all cannon/dynamite gun fodder (yes, you read that right. Dynamite. Gun.), and are about as important as "Old Chinese Guy," played by Stephen S. Chen. Fox's Lilah, she disappears for an entire act of the film. She's on screen so little, you have to wonder if she was duped into believing she was really a hooker with a heart of gold.
The bounty on Hex's own head is only seen in passing, in a wanted poster, and it makes no sense. If he is promised that his "record" will be cleared if he brings in or takes down Turnbull, then no one would know this, and they'd still make attempts on him for personal gain. Doesn't happen, though. Perhaps every greedy person in the land suddenly knows to "recognize," as it were. Additionally, it's pretty astonishing that the presumed dead Turnbull amasses such an army so fast. You'd think that the government, that is so concerned with stopping him, would have stepped in earlier, you know, before he had his own armada, or at least while it was still small. Nope. Lawmen don't respond to gunfire, indoors or out. Newfound contraptions immediately help the cause, showing how lazy the writing is, that it can't think ahead more than a minute at a time.
This film is just a catastrophe, there's no two ways about it. It's not so bad you can turn it off and be thankful, but it's not good enough to justify taking any of it seriously (and as such, it may make for a good drinking game). A failure, no matter how you look at it, but especially if you look at its box office performance. Don't expect a sequel soon, folks. It just isn't going to happen. For that, I am thankful.
The Disc: Vital Stats
Warner Bros. brings 'Jonah Hex' to Blu-ray on a BD25 single layer disc. First pressings will be housed in a two disc cut-out eco-case, with an additional slipcover (with a handy removable sticker that is just the right size to cover Fox's face Trust me on that one). There is an anti-smoking ad before the menu, which is absolute garbage. Did WB realize they will have a hard time conning enough people into buying this title, and decided to recoup some money through a paid piece of propaganda? I think so. The menu screen is static, and has a rock ballad audio track that loops through twice, before going silent. Even it gives up on this film.
'Jonah Hex' arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 encode (2.40:1 ratio) that is sadly outclassed by basic catalog fare. You'd hope a film as hollow as this one would at least be eye (and/or ear) candy, but nope. It isn't even good for that.
Colors are strong, and detail can be quite superb, particularly on faces (Brolin's scarred/melted visage is often quite the sight). Skin tones are burnt, yes, but they're consistent, and considering the heat of the film, it seems about right, so no complaints there. The picture has its moments with some extreme depth, and a few shots here and there are pure money. They're called day shots. Night shots, hoo doggy. They put the FU in fugly. Blacks crush, shadow detail is almost non-existant, and detail drops off the face of the Earth. Tiny bits of artifacting can be found here and there, while noise also can be found fairly easily. There's even light smearing and ringing to be found. The smearing, honestly, is mostly around Megan Fox, so I think they were really trying to undo what they did in casting the woman who could be readily out-acted by Montana Fishburne. Still, this is one sick puppy. For a new release, this is a failure.
This is somewhat ironic. A film that can be best remembered by the whimper it made at the box office, and the whimper of a story it tells, screams at you for about 80 minutes. 'Jonah Hex' and its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track try to make up for the fact that they really don't have anything to say by saying it really, really loudly.
Sure, I dug the new take on the WB logo, and I enjoy loud films. But do not mistake loud for good. Clarity isn't always there. Directionality is horrendous. Sometimes it seems that sounds are placed in speakers just to keep them busy, rather than assigning them to, I don't know, their proper placement in a scene, perhaps? Cannons that fire right in the middle of the screen originate from the rears. They don't move. Bass can thump quite a bit, with some superb thunder beneath gunshots, but it can overwhelm the other elements of the film, particularly atmospheric effects and dialogue. The film feels barren, like there are only fifty or so people in all of the United States, as there is never a scene that sounds as busy as it looks. But it's loud.
Each and every extra from the DVD release of 'Jonah Hex' is found here. Pretty epic.
'Jonah Hex' has some tough competition in the "worst DC comics film adaptation ever made" category, with a few of those awful Superman films, but it may take the cake. A shoot 'em up that shoots itself in the foot regularly, that has no point, no purpose, and almost no plot, this is a poorly acted disasterpiece. With problematic video and audio for a new release, and only a fairly small pile of extras, 'Jonah Hex' has cemented its position in the "Skip it" pile. A supernatural film that's neither super or natural, bordering on horror without even being a member of the genre...also known as awful.