Here are my comments about Jonah Hex, a recent ‘clone’ of the Italian western, from the Rating the Eurowesterns page.
Jonah Hex (2010, Jimmy Hayward) 5.75 of 10 stars.
A movie about a bounty hunter who can talk to the dead while seeking revenge in a gothic Corbuccian western landscape is an awesome idea. Unfortunately, this movie completely misses the mark. It manages to make even your average Eurowestern look fairly sophisticated in comparison. Among many other failings, here are five:
- The plot and the action are “too big,” which is to say that they are completely out of scale. This movie was made as part of the current cycle of comic book spectacles, not as a western. A simple revenge story at the personal level would have been much more effective.
- The movie is built around a simplistic ‘terrorist’ plot that relies on appeals to a crude nationalism. Emotionally, the movie operates at the level of a political rally or commercial. Such appeals are cheap and ineffective.
- The movie uses the gestures, style, and basic plot of the spaghetti western . . . but these have rarely translated well into an American cinematic idiom. In the Italian westerns, we are always kept at a distance from the characters and are never really sure of their motivations. In this movie, we are too intimate with the characters. Furthermore, American cinematic morality has never meshed well with the style of Leone or Corbucci. These movies had very different cultural backgrounds . . . but American film-makers usually seem to understand the genre only superficially.
- The action scenes are poorly executed. The first gunfight scene is rushed. Leone never rushed. It relies on inappropriate CGI effects that add nothing to the action. Instead, Leone used imaginative staging and music. And the scene ends with a gratuitous explosion that adds nothing to its impact.
- The score is non-descript and anonymous.