I was really excited about seeing this one. Will Smith never fails to give a blockbuster, Kevin Kline is witty and Kenneth Branaugh is one of my favorite actors. Even Salma Hayek proved herself in “Hunchback of Notre Dame” (NOT THE DISNEY VERSION – this one is the beautiful, yet depressing one made for cable). However, West really didn’t know where to go – it’s beginning was the worst part. I couldn’t understand a thing at all. Then the movie lifted up, but not enough to make it excellent. The biggest letdown was Will Smith. Gone is the Fresh Prince we once knew. Smith is toally dead in his performance; he is not funny at all and spends his time talking about women’s breasts and butts. It got really tired after a while. Kevin Kline turned in a good show, but not enough to save the picture. Kenneth Branaugh was reduced to a small pathetic “villian” character. And Salma? What the hell was she doing in this movie. MAJOR LETDOWN, but still not so bad. It has its moments, so give it a try but don’t buy it. It’s not really worth it.
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In the mid-60s there was a show called “Wild Wild West” that starred Robert Conrad as James “Jim” West, a western version of James Bond, and Ross Martin as his brainy sidekick Artemus Gordon. This show was creative and intelligent and yet full of action. The movie “Wild Wild West” starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline has nothing to do with that television show, unfortunately.
Will Smith is another Jim West and Kevin Kline is another Artemus Gordon in an alternate universe that never existed. In this universe the Wright brothers apparently were asleep as Artemus and Jim were tooling around a giant steam-powered iron spider that is unlikely to exist in any imaginable reality. Indeed, the only point of any vague historical accuracy is that there was a President Grant and there was a meeting of the railroads. After that, this movie is “The Twilight Zone” in the west.
In this fantasy movie Kenneth Branagh plays Dr. Loveless. Once again, forget the wonderful Michael Dunn as the original Dr. Loveless. Branagh has none of the charm and wit of the original. Dr. Loveless has decided to create his own empire based on the ability of his giant spider to trounce anyone who gets in his way. However, he seemed to have neglected to consider that an open cockpit is a sure way to eventually be shot. Along the way we see a number of other equally improbable devices that make for interesting special effects but continual disappointment with the movie.
I have yet to mention that not only is this west some bizarre fantasy version of the original west, but this version of Jim West has a continual string of one-liners that would have allowed him to do stand-up, but not in the alternate reality of this movie where no one seemed to understand his jokes, often including the audience. Kevin Kline also had a number of humorous lines, though his were more ironic and involved, and typically based on technology that exists only in the alternate reality of this world.
This movie does have its moments. If you like comedy and know little about the original “Wild Wild West,” you may find the comedy overwhelms the total destruction of history and scientific feasibility; or perhaps you like stories of alternate realities. The special effects are wonderful. I admit that when I could overcome my disappointment that there was no attempt to remain within the vision of the original show I was fascinated by the gadgets. However, gadgetry alone does not overcome the unbelievable story.
Oh, and as if all the other flaws in the movie were not enough to disappoint a viewer, the DVD includes Will Smith doing a hip-hop song. Hip-hop in the west? Perhaps I watched this movie from the wrong perspective. Maybe if I had taken it for a farce, like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” I would have liked the movie better. Then again, probably not.
When you go to see a Will Smith movie, you expect it to be entertaining and fast-paced. A movie with Kevin Kline might have your expectations leaning more in the direction of cerebral, tight-knit & solid entertainment. If Salma Hayek is in it, well ….at least you expect a flick with visual appeal …1, 2, 3 STRIKES…Wild Wild West STRIKES OUT! TALK ABOUT DROPPING THE BALL ! Will Smith, whose laid-back, street-wise-cracking veneer,usually hides a well-focused on screen in- tensity that is both impossible to miss ordislike …seemed to be sauntering through the film, feel- ing embarrassedly like a walking anachronism, con- sidering the “Old West” backdrop! Kevin Kline, on the other hand, who usually brings a certain air of bravura to his oft-times eccen- tric characterizations, seemed to display a marked inability to take himself seriously when in drag, (Which, unfortunately, is during a good chunk of the film)lapsing into a pathetic sort self-parody, which, considering the script, may have been the only way he could stomach the role ! Salma Hayek, for whom no one is exactly holding their breath for her to win an Oscar as Best Actress, seemed OBSESSED with getting her lines out with as little accent as possible…Despite the fact that she was clearly cast as Mexican in this film…(As opposed to her bit part in The FACULTY!) You could almost imagine “La Mejicanita” standing there, during shooting, with her Accent/ Dialogue Coach, just out of camera range! Salma… concentrate MORE on your ACTING, next time, O.K.?
As far as Barry Sonnenfled’s Directing is concern- ed…well, here we could imagine him running around frantically, till the last minute, editing & re-editing, trying to decide exactly what it is he was trying to do with “WILD”….and of course, not even coming CLOSE to getting it right!
The ONLY reason I rated the movie 2 Stars (as op- posed to 0 Stars!) is because of the scope & the
novelty of the Special Effects. The idea of seeing all those well orquestrated, and at times visually stunning effects against an Old West backdrop was the only refreshing & original element in the film …If you are not a diehard Special Effects buff, I can think of absolutely no reason on earth why you would find anything at all worth seeing in this pathetic excuse for a Blockbuster film !