They had me at “Horse Mounted Gatling Guns”, they lost me at “Megan Fox”

So I sat down and watched the Jonah Hex movie over Christmas. This was a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to like this movie. I mean, it has a bounty hunter who can speak to the dead and horse-mounted gatling guns in the first ten minutes, and that kind of absurdity is the kind of wrongness that I’m willing to roll with. And for the first first half-hour or so, things were looking pretty good – it wasn’t a great movie, but it was zany and weird and it had undead fucking cowboys and that kind of shit is awesome.

Then Megan Fox showed up.

A few years ago I had a friend who worked off the theory that Kate Beckinsale was the kiss of death for a film. As soon as she appeared on screen you were pretty much doomed to a cinematic experience that sucked. At best you’d get a film that achieved a kind of stylized aesthetic to try and cover for the lack of plot and continuity (see Underworld, and Van Halen), and at worst you got the kind of film that made you wish you could beat someone with a cluestick until they admitted their failings and gave you your two hours back (see Pearl Harbor).

Now Megan Fox seems to be performing the same function, ’cause I swear to god that every scene after her first appearance, even the ones she wasn’t actually in, the film made less sense and tried to cover it by shoehorning metaphors for terrorism and the atomic bomb into what was essentially an occult western. Plus evil confederate general John Malkovich did some crazy evil with a tattooed Irishman while beer leaked out the side of one-of-those-Quaid-chap’s mouth.

To my considerable dissapointment, they didn’t bring back the horse-mounted gatling guns.

They almost managed a stylized aesthetic that made me want to like the movie more than I did, but I got distracted by trying to figure out exactly how the not-really-an-atomic-bomb McGuffin worked. ‘Cause, seriously, I’m all about ignoring science in favour of awesome, even I thought that shit made no sense. I spent the last half hour of the film drinking scotch and screaming “seriously, what the fuck?” at the screen.

– sigh –

I wanted to like that film. I really did. If only they hadn’t made it so damn hard to like.

  10 comments for “They had me at “Horse Mounted Gatling Guns”, they lost me at “Megan Fox”

  1. 06/01/2011 at 7:23 AM

    This sir, is eerily uncanny timing. We just watched this tonight. Sentiments here pretty much echoed exactly your points on Megan Gale (and I was sadly put in mind of Kate Beckinsale as well)

    I didn't worry so much about the weapon that was central to the plot's workings, but was definitely bummed that the film had lost its momentum by that point. And the reversal in the climactic fight made me want to swear at the TV a lot.

    NEVER reverse a significant fight with a random event.

  2. 06/01/2011 at 7:27 AM

    It wasn't random – it was bullshit justification for having a character for Megan Fox to play in the movie.

  3. E J
    06/01/2011 at 7:54 AM

    I have a feeling that everyone was rolling their eyes + saying "WTF" with this movie…you just have to laugh really.

    I wanted to like it too…communicating with the dead is a brilliant idea…Megan Fox however is not…

    *Sidenote…are all acting parts for 'up + coming' female "actors" (and i use the term 'actor' extreamly loosley here) merely a vehicle for them to pout + look sultry (even tho there is absolutely no reason + even seems completely out of character to what else is happening in the film)…at every given moment on the screen?

    In the words of Janes Addiction…'Idiots Rule'…well, thats what this film tells us about what the producers were thinking when making it.

  4. 06/01/2011 at 8:49 AM

    Ah, dangit, that movie's sitting in my To Watch pile. Maybe I'll just watch Brick again. :-/

  5. 06/01/2011 at 9:06 AM

    @Peter I get what they were doing, but in terms of the fight, it was a random event, having a weapon getting knocked into his reach.

    For a character like Hex, that reversal should have come from ingenuity, his connection with the dead, or from the rage that I thought they were building with the flashes back to his past and to that spirit plane where he was having his visions. Not from something random happening.

    That kind of thing would work well in a Firefly episode, but it bummed me for that character.

    AND THEN, there's all the bullshit justifications for Megan Fox's character being in the film, which is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. And as bad as Megan Fox is, the writing for her character was WORSE.

  6. 06/01/2011 at 9:19 AM

    @EJ: not all, but I suspect that applies to the parts Fox is offered.

    @Jess: Think of it as the cinimatic equivalent of Hellboy 2, assuming Hellboy 2 was dumber and lacked Del Toro in the director's chair.

    @ Kev: The thing that shits me the most is that the Fox character could have been a really interesting thing if they'd actually explored what happened to the emotionally wrecked bounty hunter *driven by the death of his wife and child* when he started feeling affection for another woman. And it would have been a far more interesting source of conflict than stopping John Malkovitch from collecting all the dragonballs.

    And it gets even worse when you consider that they actually marginalised Hex's wife in order to keep Hex and Fox's character sympathetic – there's a big hullabaloo made about the fact that Hex Junior is burned to death and that's why crazy confederate Malkovitch needs to die, but Mrs Hex only gets screen time in the finale act because they need to explain why the native Americans keep bring Hex back from the dead. All this *despite dying in the same goddam fire* as Hex Jr.

    Excuse me while I am *INCOHERENT WITH GODDAM FUCKING RAGE* at this point, cause that's just being manipulative instead of thinking through the character.

    To say nothing of the utter sexism inherent in that choice.

  7. 06/01/2011 at 10:46 AM

    @Peter I agree with all of your points, and completely missed that his wife was why they kept dragging him back from the dead (had disengaged from the plot so much by that point)

    The film is definitely rife with sexism in how it deals with both female characters, but I have to admit my brain didn't take them to task for that because it became readily apparent they weren't going to be different from the standard here. (does that make me apathetic?) So I got miffed with how they dealt with action sequences instead.

    The only good thing I can say about how they dealt with Megan Fox's character is that 1) she didn't become freezer stuffing like his wife (and incidental freezer stuffing at that) and 2) the issue of rape never came up, thank Christ.

  8. Lee
    06/01/2011 at 10:46 AM

    Well Pete gven the many cinematic gems you and I have shared over the years your review does make me glad I put Hex back on the shelf the other night in favour of something else equally forgettable. Even Leanne would have flinched at this and we are pretty accepting though glaring plot holes do so annoy me as you know!

  9. Dave
    06/01/2011 at 4:22 PM

    Can't agree more with you guys, watched it before christmas, loved the first 10 or so minutes, was expecting Deadlands-esque fun and watched the movie go down the gurgler fairly promptly. I did like the Ironclad at the end though for the sole redeeming feature at the end 🙂

  10. Adam
    09/01/2011 at 1:44 AM

    I had the same reaction.

    Fortunately, I had it to the trailer 😀

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