The TV show, Wild Wild West, combined James Bond like gadgetry with the classic western genre in an inventive way. This movie, set in 1869 during Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency and after the Civil War, tries to entertain beyond the TV show by not only redefining the western genre, but modernizing it with elements of mass destruction which represents the main weaknesses of the film. Even watching a preview of this film a certain machine raises the question — What is that doing in a western movie? The filmmakers seem to think the bigger the better, but this element just doesn’t blend with the western genre like the inventive gadgetry. The costumes have a bigger function than this unrealistic and unnecessary part of the movie.
Will Smith, playing James West, definitely has a lot of fun playing the hero part from the confidant swagger to the immediate gun draw against his enemies. Kevin Kline plays the inventor/U.S. Marshall, Artemus Gordon, who displays the admirable trait of thinking his way out of problems before using violence as a last resort.
Salma Hayek makes the most of a pointless role as the love interest who’s “a beautiful distraction” and has one of the worst character exits I’ve seen in a long time which sadly makes her character seem even more useless. Kenneth Branaugh, plays the enemy Dr. Loveless, who seeks revenge after his fellow Southerners lost the Civil War, with loud theatrics and a southern accent.
The great music number during opening credits sets the mood for some great western fun, but the following spotty plot follows numerous frantic action scenes that don’t always mean very much. Wild Wild West comes recommended with reservations as an entertaining movie but does not use the talented actors to their full potential.
The surprisingly predictable plotline has some amusing sight gags and laughs, but not enough for an overall enjoyable experience. Filmmakers added additional action & comedic sequences after principal filming was done, which many other movies do, but in the case of the Wild Wild West, these sequences just add to a bloated mess of a movie that has too much going on and not enough substance for the audience to grasp. Not recommended (*1/2 out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for action violence, sex references and innuendo.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler