Ultimate 90’s Blogathon Wrap-up: Wild Wild West (1999) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

We have arrived, ladies and gents! We are at the final day of the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon and both my fantastically awesome co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and I will be sharing our final wrap-up posts on each other’s sites. First to share is Drew with his review of 1999’s Wild Wild West. Will Smith, Kenneth Brannagh, humor and wild west…

Take it away, Drew!

Synopsis
Army Captain James West (Will Smith) is tasked by President Grant (Kevin Kline) to work together with US Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) to find the ex-Confederate scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) before he can take over the United States government.

Review
Wild Wild West was a go-to movie for my friend and I back when we were growing up.  Between the two of us, we could (and still can!) quote the movie in its entirety.  Having watched this many times over the years, I acknowledge that the nostalgia factor might affect my enjoyment of the film, as I have found several flaws since watching it as a young lad. However, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be enjoyed on its own merits.

Right out the gate, this movie is goofy. Not funny, although it is that too, but goofy.  Artemis Gordon’s inventions feel a little too perfect for the situations they get Gordon and Jim West out of. Arliss Loveless’ beard rivals Crane’s beard from The Hunger Games for most intricate movie beard, acting as the proverbial “I’m the bad guy” sign.  Loveless’ invention to bring the “US government to its knees” is a giant, steam-punk tarantula.  Everything about this movie screams “Saturday morning cartoon.” Nevertheless, it has a sense of fun that many film miss, which is why it still works for even as I’ve grown older.  Wild Wild West never takes itself seriously, making it fun for both the actors and the audience.

The humor can be seen as a little juvenile, like the scene below, but that kind of humor is what I like.  Will Smith and John Kline are enjoyable to watch together.  This film came out relatively early in Smith’s film career. It is fun to see how he has brought the same energy and personality to his characters throughout all of his movies, whether they were in the 90s, when he started film acting, or today.  I’ll admit I haven’t seen many of Kline’s films to compare Artemis Gordon to his other roles but his comedy here is more subtle than Smith’s which works because having two boisterous comedians would be too much.

Besides the two leads, the other two big supporting actors, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh are clearly having a good time too.  The often scantily clad Hayek is obviously there for the eye candy and to give West and Gordon someone to compete for, but it doesn’t appear to bother her and she gives a memorable performance.  Branagh gets fully into the maniacal villain role.  It’s cartoonish and over the top but he steals his every scene he’s in.

I thought Wild Wild West was GOOD 🙂 It isn’t afraid to be silly and have fun with itself, which might turn off other viewers but I really enjoyed that.  Everyone, from Will Smith and Kevin Kline to Salma Hayek and Kennith Branagh, feel like they are enjoying themselves.  I grew up watching this film regularly and although its imperfections have become more apparent over the years, it still is every bit the fun, adventurous romp I remember it to be.

Favorite Scene

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Barry Sonnenfeld – Director
Jim Thomas – Story
John Thomas – Story
SS Wilson – Screenplay
Brent Maddock – Screenplay
Jefferey Price – Screenplay
Peter S Seaman – Screenplay
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Will Smith – James West
Kevin Kline – Artemis Gordon / President Ulysses S Grant
Kenneth Branagh – Dr. Arliss Loveless
Salma Hayek – Rita Escobar
M. Emmet Walsh – Coleman
Ted Levine – General “Bloodbath” McGrath
Frederique van der Wal – Amazonia
Musetta Vander – Munitia
Sofia Eng – Miss Lippenrieder
Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon – Belle
Bai Ling – Miss East

Remember to head over to Drew’s later today to see my wrap-up post!
Hint: Its also a triple feature (just like my kick-off)!

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

I tell you I’m in an animation phase…but I’ve acknowledged it so I’ll be heading into the next real life actor movies soon.  I have been watching movies a lot so I have a few reviews lined up to be written over the next few days. I wasn’t too sure about this one though.  I’ve never been one to be in love with the whole clay animation concept (is that how you call it?).  However, this one did get an Oscars nomination for best animation of 2012 so when I could do the Bluray DVD exchange, I jumped at the chance.  I mean, Oscars are the coming Sunday night and I plan to have get to see at least part of it.  I had no idea what to expect for this one though, I’ve seen some good reviews and some bad ones.

the pirates band of misfitsDirector: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt

Cast: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek

Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) with his odd crew has been trying to win the Pirate of the Year Award for the past years.  This award looks at the pirate that has gotten the most booty and this is usually comparable to the wanted level that the pirate in question has.  The value of his reward if he were to be caught.  When he gets made fun of by Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek), Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Peg Leg Hastings, who are his main rivals in the race for the award, he sets out to sea to find the booty.  After several failed attempts, he lands on the ship of Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who was on an expedition to bring back a discovery worthy of making a reputation for himself at the Science Convention in London and to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).  When Charles Darwin sees Pirate Captain, he notices that the parrot he owns is actually not a parrot but one that could bring them untold riches.  With that, they all set off for London despite the dangers that it holds, especially with the hatred of pirates from the Queen Victoria herself.

This animation is an adventure that is filled with smart jokes and a good dose of silliness.  The characters itself is a whole lot of fun to watch. The plot has its up and downs and climaxes.  I haven’t seen any of the other Oscar nominees for best animation, but I’d say this one is definitely creative and witty enough to be part of it.  However, if this is the surprise pick (was it for those who did see all or most of the nominations), then the rest are quite promising! I’m looking forward to picking up a whole bunch of new animations in 2013.

The Pirate Captain isn't worth too much, eh?

The Pirate Captain isn’t worth too much, eh?

Everything was really good in this one.  It had a crazy amount of funny moments and to me, those are important especially in animations.  The character designs are really cool.  Hugh Grant did a fantastic job at being Pirate Captain.  I think this is his first effort in the voice work domain and he shines.  But then, I personally love Hugh Grant’s voice so this really works for me.  Just the appearance and reactions matched with the enthusiasm in the voice just makes you love watching the Pirate Captain in action.  His crew make possibly the best animated oddball crew ever.  They are an array of different character personalities and they just complement each other so well.

pirates band of misfits pirates crew

One of the best parts of this is the villain.  Queen Victoria is utterly evil. She looks and sounds the part. Imelda Staunton usually does a great job at these mean people/villainous roles, like when she did Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter with her sharp and snobbish voice, but it fits so well here.

pirates queen of england

Another one was the addition of Charles Darwin, young and smitten with Queen Victoria, he becomes a man who experiments the weirdest things.  This leads us to the hilarious addition of his experiment called a “man-panzee” turn butler, Mister BoBo.  There is no voice for him as he only talks with cue cards, but his character was possibly one of the wittiest ones in the Band of Misfits.  The idea of using that was extremely creative.

the-pirates-band-of-misfits-monkey-

Fun and entertaining, quirky and smart are all how I would describe it.  From the first moment to the last, it really takes you on an adventure.  Definitely a pleasant surprise for me.