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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 28: Wild Wild West


July 28: Wild Wild West

"The two best hired guns in the West must save President Grant from the clutches of a 19th century inventor-villain."
Directed by: Barry Sonnefeld, Rated: PG-13, 106 minutes

I always knew but never fully realized how bad a movie Wild Wild West is. I had always enjoyed it as a stupid, yet fun flick when I was younger, never having the mental capacity to understand how awful it is. I also never realized how racist the film is, incorporating a different slave joke every five minutes or so and even throwing in a handful of jokes aimed at handicapped people. There's just so much going wrong in the film that you can't help but sit back and kind of enjoy it. Hell, Wild Wild West stars two extremely likable men- Will Smith and Kevin Kline, features a gloriously over-the-top Kenneth Branagh, and also features a handful of steam punk gadgets and vehicles. How bad could it be?

Well f**k. 

Wild Wild West tells the story of Jim West (Will Smith), a Civil-War hero who's good with a gun and Artemeus Gordon (Kevin Kline), a U.S marshall who has more gadgets than courage and also happens to be a master of disguise. When President Ulysses S. Grant finds that the United States is being threatened by the evil Dr. Arliss Loveless (Branagh), he recruits the two to work together and find a way of stopping him. As the two of them investigate into Loveless' plan, they discover that he has much darker plans for the country than originally thought. Of course, as any big bloated movie, the men can't do everything on their own, and reluctantly enlist the help of Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek), a whore dancer who knows how to get close to Loveless. The movie is actually based off an old TV show of the same name, and while I never watched it, I can only imagine the characters and stories were much more developed and entertaining than the film. 

Definitely, yes. 

After re-watching the film, I wonder how successful something like it would be today. The steam punk aspect of the film is certainly a draw, especially with an increase of it's popularity more recently. Looking back, I actually think that the failure of Wild Wild West is one of the biggest reasons more films these days don't have a steam punk style to them, as no one wants to remind the public of this bomb. Regardless, some of the gadgets are incredibly fun and inventive, and a part of me really wanted to see more of what Gordon has in store. The film also features a crap ton of mechanical spiders, including a giant beast of a thing in the finale. It's even more interesting knowing Kevin Smith's story behind the thing.  

Yes, that's a giant spider. 

Wild Wild West sucks. I really, really tried hard to find a way to enjoy it like my younger, naive self was able to do, but I couldn't. One of the only aspects I can recommend watching for is Branagh's performance as Loveless. An actor of that caliber has to be aware of the shit he is in and I think he just went running away with the role, having as much fun as possible, fully aware of how bad the movie would be. Even then, I'd be weary of suggesting the film and would probably lean more towards suggesting you skip it. It's a mess of epic proportions that tries way too hard to be some badass adventure with fun gadgets but ends up being a piss-poor "comedy" with even worse special effects and terrible dialogue. Will Smith is clearly present solely for his star power and when one of the world's most bankable and likable actors can't save the film, you know you're in trouble. Skip it if you haven't seen it, avoid re-watching it if you have. 

The Good:
a vaguely creative idea that could have been so much better 
The Bad:
a piss poor execution with crappy CGI and an even worse script that just reeks of stupid
The Ugly:
wondering how the hell I ever watched and enjoyed this movie as a kid

Overall: 2.7/10


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