Friday, October 15, 2010

Choppy, sloppy "Jonah Hex" on DVD

Jonah Hex (2010)
81 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: D +

A grizzled Josh Brolin gamely growls and badasses his way through this choppy, sloppy misfire of the DC graphic-novel adaptation "Jonah Hex" as the disfigured, gunslinging outlaw. Hex is a Civil War soldier-turned-bounty-hunter out for revenge on Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), who scarred Jonah's face after killing his wife and son. Jonah's leaky cheek prevents him from being able to swallow whiskey, but since the ugly bastard was so close to The Other Side his new talent is touching and contacting the dead. And Turnbull has wrangled up some weapons of mass destruction to conquer the nation, or something. 

For such an overbacked production, this supernatural-western-revenge stitchery could've been campy fun if it weren't basically "The Punisher" crossed with "Wild Wild West" and "Ghost Rider," not three of the most graceful motion pictures. Pixar vet Jimmy Hayward directs live-action for the first time (after co-directing 2008's "Horton Hears a Who!"), but digs up a few striking set pieces with neat comic-book art. Fanboys should get a chuckle out of Jonah blowing his enemies away with Gatling guns attached to his horse's saddle. Alas, the editing (by four people!) doesn't make the action very exciting and Marco Beltrami's Mastodon-filled music score is relentlessly loud. To make matters messier, screenwriting partners Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have come up with a half-baked, often confusing script. 

Malkovich adds to his list of psycho-baddie scenery-chewers but his Quentil Turnbell is pretty dull. As Jonah's lady friend Lilah (a whore with a heart of gold), Megan Fox, shot through layers of gauze, looks great in a corset with legs that just won't quit, and exchanges some leaden one-liners. Though her screen time only adds up to about 20 minutes, Fox adds nothing to the proceedings. Michael Shannon, Aidan Quinn, Wes Bentley, and Will Arnett fill up the cast but are completely wasted. Appreciably, "Jonah Hex" is aesthetically slick and runs a short, race-to-the-end 73 minutes (sans credits), but it's still a mess. 

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