Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jonah's Hex

No, I haven't bothered to go see Jonah Hex (and I probably won't be bothered to at all), but I couldn't help but notice an article on io9 about the failure of weird Westerns both financially and creatively. The similarities between Jonah Hex and Wild Wild West (interestingly, they're a little over 10 years apart) are uncanny, and suggest that Hollywood can't make this genre work without making into a Michael Bay-esque spectacle.
Though the article makes some good points on how the weird Western could work, I can't agree that it would work completely. The main reason is that the Western, from a financial point of view, has fallen out of favor with the American public. There was once a time when there really was a frontier in America, and even though these films were made after the frontier had closed, the fascination was still present. Nowadays, though, this is not the case, as, thanks to the space race, we're now interested in what lies beyond our planet (hence the rise in science fiction circa 1950). There was a brief revival of the form in the early 1990s, but it passed quickly. Now we're treated to maybe one or two a year.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love Westerns; they're among my favorite genres of film, and in recent times we've seen some classics (my favorite contemporaries happened to be released in the same year: 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). And the idea of the weird Western is a fascinating one, one that I hope does continue. However, to make a high-quality weird Western, Hollywood might have to sacrifice the blockbuster expectations. That, of course, doesn't bode well for the upcoming Cowboys and Aliens.
What about you? Is there any genre of film that you wish could be done better? Comments always welcome.

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