I can’t remember whether I ever actually saw Wild Wild West when I was a kid. All I do know is that I owned a Jim West plush horse toy from McDonalds, leading me to conclude from this evidence that Wild Wild West was made for children. For children to watch with their eyes. Which leads me to question almost every frame of this car crash of a film.
The song is almost worth sitting through the entire movie just to hear it over the closing credits.
I also like the South Park episode where Cartman keeps saying Wicky Wicky Wild West.
Except it’s not really worth it and the 2 hours of this movie which happen before the credits are totally baffling. Let me redirect you to my opening statements vis-a-vis my Jim West McDonalds toy leading me to the conclusion that this must be a kids’ film. Now let us compare this to the scene in which there’s a shot of Will Smith where you can clearly see his balls. I was watching this on a tiny laptop screen; imagine it on the cinema screen and I may have the question of the over-hyped sexuality of our generation answered.
As much as modern day blockbusters are sneaking sexuality into films billed as family fare, Wild Wild West is in an entire league of its own. Did there really need to be some kind of nightmarish sex machine in background of several scenes where Salma Hayek’s character is discovered locked in a birdcage? Is the actual suggestion of this sequence that she was going to be attached to this doom machine and horrifically raped? I think it might have been.
Since all the balls-out (literally) sexuality wasn’t enough, this movie is racist in the “comedy lynching” kind of way. The problem is that the character of Jim West was clearly written for a white actor as was the case in the original TV show (Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson were considered for the role, imagine it, just imagine it). When Will Smith was eventually cast they were obviously faced with some questions as to how to deal with the historical complications of a black man in a position of such authority, a high-ranking captain, in the 19th century. What they decided to do was just to reference the fact he was black at every possible opportunity.
Which means suddenly grounding this ridiculous farce of a movie in very real and quite sombre historical fact. Are you honestly going to reference how Jim West was from a family of slaves who were all massacred by the baddie during the Civil War and then several scenes later have said baddie operate a giant robot spider? Tarantino might be getting away with some colourful rewriting of the history of slavery and the Civil War in Django Unchained, but this movie was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the man behind The Addams Family, and may I repeat THIS MOVIE IS MEANT TO BE FOR KIDS. The fact the producers of this movie thought that all this attention on the race issue was necessary for Smith to be in the title role is insane; if you’re expecting the audience to be OK with a tank which turns into a train which also has legs, I think they’re going to get over a black cowboy.
The pinnacle of all this awkwardness is a scene where Jim West and antagonist Dr. Loveless throw veiled insults at each other at a high society party. On the one side there’s racism, on the other ableism. The result is the total opposite of fun-times.
Dr. Loveless- Mister West! How nice of you to join us tonight and add COLOR to these monochromatic proceedings!
James West- Well when a fella comes back from the dead, I find that an occasion to STAND UP and be counted!
Dr. Loveless- Miss East informs me that you were expectin’ to see General McGrath here. Well, I knew him years ago, but I haven’t seen him in a COON‘s age!
James West- Well I can see where it’d be difficult for a man of your stature to keep in touch with even HALF the people you know.
Dr. Loveless- Well, perhaps the lovely Miss East will keep you from bein’ a SLAVE to your disappointment!
James West- Well, you know beautiful women; they encourage you one minute, and CUT THE LEGS OUT from under you the next!
Jaw. On the floor.
Let’s put aside the sex and racism for a second (although can we really?) and discuss how generally crazy this movie is from start to finish. The original TV show this film was based on did involve a lot of gadgetry, its creator billing it as a kind of “James Bond on horseback”. However, while the TV show had believable Sean Connery years-style gadgets, the movie version is Die Another Day and beyond. Looking past the obvious ridiculousness of the giant steam-powered spider of the finale, what annoys me most is how the film has the cheek to draw attention to how stupid some of these gadgets are, with Jim West telling gadget-whore Artemis Gordon that pockets are probably just as good as a spring-loaded notebook that explodes out of your sleeve. EXACTLY JIM, SO WHY HAS THIS STUPID-ASS MOVIE INCLUDED IT LIKE WE ACTUALLY THINK ANY OF THIS SH*T IS COOL, EH?
I find it difficult to blame Big Willie for this. He’s charming enough in the role, but almost more importantly looks so uncomfortable that the instant regret is clear on his face. Kenneth Branagh, on the other hand, should forever be in shame of this film. The man just gets way too into the role. I get the vibe from Branagh, as I always do, that he thought this entire film was only created to be a vehicle for his powerhouse performance as a camp, legless, spider-loving racist. And it pains me.
I honestly don’t know who they were trying to make this movie for. Kids? Perverts? It’s anyone’s guess. On the one side is sex, racism, and violence (I didn’t even touch on the fact Will Smith keeps punching people unprovoked), on the other side are ridiculously childish gadgets and over the top performances. This movie is a baffling disaster.
Take a Drink: for every cleavage shot.
Take a Drink: for every ass shot.
Take a Drink: for every crotch shot.