Friday, 22 August 2008

No.37 : Wild Wild West

IMDb Link :

Given its stinky reputation (a meagre 4.2 on IMDb) I wasn’t looking forward to ‘Wild Wild West‘, a rare beast of a summer blockbuster that I hadn’t seen before. Although it was no classic I still enjoyed it more than its score would have suggested.

Based on an 1960’s TV series, which I also missed, ‘Wild Wild West’ follows the adventures of Jim West (Will Smith) a government agent in the period just after the American Civil War. The world presented is not the one we know, with this one being steam-punked to the Nth degree. Jim’s mission is to investigate the disappearance of several top scientists, a job he is assisted in by Kevin Kline’s inventor and Salma Heyek’s eye candy.

The main baddie is played by Kenneth Branagh with an annoying Southern accent and a steam powered wheelchair. He has plans to use his mental machines to kidnap the president and break up the newly formed United States.

There is precious little done in the way of detection, with one mechanical led set piece crashing into the next one. Kline and Smith don’t have any rapport at all and all the laughs come from the fantastic gizmos and stunts. When the President (also played for no apparent reason by Kline) is captured by Branagh’s giant mechanical spider our men have to get him back, save the day and throw in as many bad jokes and costume changes as the running time will allow.

I did quite like the film but given that it’s so patently awful I’ll have to class it as a guilty pleasure. The effects and machines are great but so unbelievable that any sense of reality is quickly lost. Smith and Kline are both likable guys but they don’t gel here, especially given the weak dialogue they are given to interact with. The support form Hayek and M. Emmet Walsh was underused and, although hamming it up for all he was worth, the largely CGI Branagh was miscast.

The film had enough to keep my interest and the effects were great, but over all the poor script and rudderless direction means that its reputation and low status are fully deserved.

Best Bit : Definitely not Will Smith in drag.

‘W’ Rating : 15/23

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