True Grit Review

True Grit is definitely a film with a lot of tough characters but unfortunately it took the gritty part a little too far. You’ve even got a horse that dies in this one which was unfortunate. You can absolutely do wild west films without animal violence, I’ve seen it done before. So what made this one fall into that trap? It just wasn’t being cautious enough and that’s a big mistake. It’s a fairly decent film for the most part but one that makes its share of mistakes too.

The movie starts with Mattie’s father getting bumped off after trying to get Tom Cheney to stop trying to pick fights while he was drunk. Unfortunately this drunk had one more bullet up his sleeve and so he then went on a crime spree before vanishing into the Indian territories. He is now protected by Ned Pepper and there isn’t anyone brave enough to go after him. Mattie is forced to try and find someone with true grit. Someone who won’t back down and will keep on fighting all the way through to the end. There is one person that everyone agrees is right for the job…Rooster.

Rooster is one of those guys who always gets his man and doesn’t mind using his gun as needed. You can bet that nobody is going to scare him off easily and that’s exactly the kind of guy Mattie needs. Unfortunately for her he doesn’t take Mattie very seriously and he also charges a lot for his services. While most would give up at this point, Mattie isn’t like most other characters. She works hard and gets the money so Rooster takes her up on the offer. They’re joined by a Texas ranger known as La Boeuf who is also after Chaney for a different crime. Having another fighter on hand would usually be good but the issue is that Mattie specifically wants him to hang for murdering her father, not some other crime. There’s going to be a lot of tension on this trip.

So lets get the bad out of the way first and then talk about the good. The main issue here of course is the animal violence. You never have to have the horse die during the gun fights, just have the human fall off of the horse while it runs away. Or if it’s tough acting you can have them both fall but there’s no indication that the horse is dead. Unfortunately this film goes out of its way to let you know that the horse is absolutely dead. Cmon now that’s not necessary in any situation. The horse staying alive would have been the right move and I dare say that it would have been a lot more inspirational as well.

There’s also a random scene where Rooster shoots a mouse. There was no real need for that either. It shows how tough he is, but we already knew that. This film just takes some easy outs like that which limits its potential compared to other wild west titles. It doesn’t quite beat the last few that I’ve seen.

I do like Rooster as the main fighter though. He is definitely a rather gruff guy on the outside but ultimately he’s pleasant enough to Mattie. You can tell that he’s not going to just run off with the money half way. Rooster takes his job very seriously and is good at it. His reputation is well deserved and he also makes La Boeuf back off when the guy is getting to be a bit too much. Rooster’s one weakness is that he can be a bit of a drunk at times. Usually he doesn’t drink enough to actually make him loose his grip on the situation but it does happen once or twice. It’s a massive weakness in his line of work.

As for La Boeuf, I can’t say that I liked him. His initial scenes were really hard to get around like when he first meets up with Mattie. The guy wants to take Chaney down too but loses his cool almost immediately and just does not seem like a good guy. Unlike Rooster I would not trust this guy at all. As the film goes on he gets more reasonable but either way I wasn’t really a fan of the guy.

Chaney is a super petty villain all the way through. He really had no good reason to get Mattie’s father except that he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing. It’s clear that he was always a bad guy based on the crimes they described for him afterwards though so the drink isn’t a full excuse. He’s just a bad guy but with no master plan or any interesting qualities. You’re just waiting for him to be taken down later on. Mattie should have just shot him again while she had the gun. Everyone always seems to freeze up in these films but if you’re face to face with someone that’s stronger and faster than you, you need to blow him away before it’s too late. Once he’s within arm’s length it’s over.

Ned Pepper was a lot more interesting even though his role is much smaller. I liked the lore with how he fought Rooster once before and is effectively the only one that got away. It makes for an interesting past there and now this guy felt like a true threat. The movie’s focus isn’t on him so he doesn’t appear a lot but at least this way we had one super formidable fighter.

The gun fights are solid here. We see one battle where Rooster has to go up against 4-5 guys on his own which was really impressive. In general he always makes his shots and considering that he’s so old by this point, he has a lot of stamina as well. You definitely feel secure having someone like Rooster on your side. It took him and the Texas ranger a long while to get to Mattie near the climax though which almost cost her. I know she fell down quite a bit aways but I still didn’t think it would take so long to get down there. Maybe they were afraid of falling too.

At the end of the day Mattie gets a lot of credit for being so persistent as well. Pretty much everyone just told her to drop the case after a while because it would just be too difficult to get her justice but she didn’t let them get to her. Between locating a bounty hunter who would help and raising the funds, Mattie really earned her victory all the way through. She was even able to effectively haggle prices with someone for the horse and her money at one point. I also liked how she would constantly mention her lawyer. When he actually appeared near the end that was fun. He’s the kind of character who can give you a good laugh but deep down you know that he means business.

Overall, True Grit really messes up when it comes to the animal scenes but beyond that it’s a fairly decent wild west movie. I think they could have made the Texas Ranger a little more likable though as it would have helped to improve the banter with him and Rooster. That’s something that can be a lot of fun to have in these films but it doesn’t work quite as well when you’re rooting for the guy to get taken down the whole time. I do think Rooster would have won if they ever did get into an actual fight though. A prequel about Rooster’s days in the army could also be interesting since it sounds like he saw a lot of action there. If you like Wild West films a lot then this is probably one you’ll want to check out but if not, there are a lot of other titles you could watch to start your journey into the genre.

Overall 4/10

El Dorado Review

The Wild West definitely has some very solid films out there and then some that can be rather weak. I’d say the genre always comes with a lot of risks but when no mistakes are made you can be sure that it’ll be a fun ride. One character may have been really annoying the whole time here but ultimately I’d say that the film itself is a winner.

The film starts off strong with Sheriff J.P. pulling up to a hotel and threatening Cole. He’s heard talk of Cole being scouted by one of the two families involved in a rather large dispute over land. Cole hadn’t actually accepted the job yet but J.P. convinces him that it’s a crooked deal and not to go through with it. The two of them have a fairly solid rivalry going with each other but one built out of respect so Cole doesn’t just disregard his words. He thinks about it and ultimately declines the offer but not before having to bump off one of the family members in self defense.

We skip ahead in time a while and Cole happens to meet up with a guy named McLeod who has been offered the same job and decided to take it. At first Cole isn’t worried but then he is told that J.P. has fallen into tough times recently as he got dumped and has become a complete alcoholic who can no longer function. It’s really not part of Cole’s business at this point but he can’t turn his back on the sheriff. Cole heads into town for one last fight.

Right off the bat I can tell you that one of the big things that helps this movie stand out is that Cole is a great main character. He’s not a hero strictly speaking but the guy has a good honor code and won’t just let bad things happen. When a kid named Mississippi is nearly taken down in a dirty fight, Cole steps in to save him. Likewise when J.P. is in a bad spot, Cole is the one to jump in and win the day. He is one of the fastest guns in the world and doesn’t feel a need to prove himself. So you don’t see Cole bragging but he’ll certainly fight if the need arises.

He has a lot of restraint too like with how he has to handle Joey’s repeated attacks on him. Cole really does his best not to murder unless absolutely necessary. Even when he was ambushed by one of the family members, Cole was able to fire back but took care not to murder him. The guy just ended up shooting himself. Cole is certainly someone that you want on your side in any fight.

Now as for J.P., I liked him in the first scene but man did he fall off after that. All because he was dumped too? Nah that’s just a little too much. He looks absolutely embarrassing after that and sure he gets his big moment by the end but it’s a little too late. You have to retain some level of dignity in the meantime and just drinking yourself into oblivion is not the way out. The main missed opportunity due to this plot is that we don’t get a lot of fun banter between the two characters. Having that throughout the movie would have been a lot of fun but ultimately he can’t keep up with Cole so there’s no chance of that.

Now Mississippi was a really fun character. A little naïve for sure with how he underestimated everyone at the bar but his actual skills are good in a straight fight. I thought he was going to get more scenes with his knife after the opening scene but I suppose he proved his point. I also thought it was good that Cole went to train him because realistically you do need a gun in the wild west. No matter how good you are with a knife, a gun will still be the stronger tool in your trade. That just makes sense.

His gun was also a lot of fun because of how huge and long range it was. It really helped to make up for his lack of pure skill. You’ve also got Bull who is an older man that helps out a whole lot in the movie. He gets a lot of fun scenes and it’s nice to see how he can still fight at such an old age. Bull’s got a good attitude about the whole thing and contributed a whole lot.

Then you have Joey who is on her quest for vengeance for most of the movie. It’s all built around a big misunderstanding and she doesn’t really want to hear the truth. Granted, you do get why she would be super skeptical. The whole thing is a little hard to buy with the guy shooting himself and Cole was naturally a huge suspect. Ultimately it takes a while but she comes around. I thought she still made for an interesting third party kind of villain.

The best villain had to be McLeod though. His skills are on par with that of Cole’s and so that also makes them rivals in a sense. They’re some of the best in their line of work and pull no punches. Unfortunately the way things turn out we don’t get the big fight that you may have been waiting for. It would have been nice to have seen that but perhaps things would not have gone well for Cole if that had happened. It’s hard to say but there was no obvious answer to who would win. McLeod is another guy with a solid honor system and he was a very interesting villain. His scenes were always fun.

If the film has one weakness it’s that I didn’t actually care about the family land squabble. The guy who was trying to steal the land and the family who wouldn’t give it up? I never really cared about either side or how the battle would go. It felt like the film didn’t give them much attention either as it was more focused on the main characters. I don’t really feel like that’s a bad thing but by the end I couldn’t tell you much about either side.

Usually in these wild west films that would have been a much bigger aspect. Instead, getting J.P.’s honor back was more of a main theme and the heroes finally getting ready to go up against the bigger odds. So in that sense, the overall story isn’t as interesting as the actual character moments. You think of the villains more like nameless goons who are about to get absolutely dominated in the fights.

The romance is also a little weak but I wouldn’t say there’s much of it. There’s one lady who seems to have had affair with both of the guys in the past so they may want to rethink that one. You had J.P. getting dumped off screen but that’s hard to call a romance since we never saw it. The movie doesn’t have time for many subplots though which is for the best if this is any indication of how a longer romance would have gone.

Overall, El Dorado is a good movie. It’s a classic tale of two rivals having to team up against a common enemy. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as action packed as some other Wild West titles as there’s a lot of build up and character development until the climax, but the climax itself is rather long so you’ll still get a lot of bang for your buck. With a solid cast of main characters, they more than make up for the story itself not being one of the most memorable ones. If you’re a fan of the genre then you should definitely check it out.

Overall 7/10

The Naked Spur Review

It’s time for a trip down the Wild West, but unfortunately this one’s not a winner. The characters rarely make the right choices and so this becomes a lot harder for everyone involved than it needs to be. There’s also a random moment with a sick horse that has to be put down and it really has nothing to do with anything here. It’s a shame because you always want to think through every scene before putting it in a feature film or any kind of media tbh.

The movie starts with Kemp trying to track down Vandergroat to bring him to justice. Unfortunately the guy is holed up at the top of a mountain and it’s difficult to approach since he keeps throwing rocks down which can easily destroy anyone who gets close. Fortunately Kemp gets help from a local guy named Jesse and an ex-law enforcer named Roy. They’re able to take this villain down and his companion Lina. Now all Kemp has to do is quietly take Vandergroat back to the town to get his money but the villain lets the others know about the bounty as well. Roy and Jesse now insist on traveling the whole way too. Can the three of them mind their own business long enough make it to town or will Vandergroat be able to exploit their lack of intelligence?

This is one of those films that only works if each character is absolutely awful at long term decision making. Fortunately for Vandergroat that is the case. We already know that Kemp is really greedy with how he wasn’t about to tell the others about the reward money. He’s only looking out for himself but you like to think that after that he would have been able to keep his head in the game and stay focused. Instead, he is constantly goaded by the villain and has disagreements with his two companions. I want to say the burden or blame starts with Kemp since it’s his initial deception that caused everyone to stop trusting him. Additionally he should be keeping Vandergroat more securely bound. That guy is as tricky as they come after all.

Then we have Roy who is my favorite member of the 3 but he’s not above suspicion and mistakes either. For starters he tends to promote ideas that would split up the group which implies that he is trying to make a move for the money. Even if he isn’t, he should realize how this all sounds. There’s also a scene near the end where he is a little too desperate in going after a body. I get that he’s worked hard for this but risking your life too much is not a good idea. You can’t use the money when you’re dead after all.

I did think he made the right move in startling the Indians when the heroes were around though which forced them to all fight together. Otherwise the other characters were absolutely prepared to have him be sacrificed by fighting on his own. This trio really had absolutely 0 unity and it certainly shows. At least he had a lot of confidence and a quick wit. His flirting could be well over the top at times though which holds him back.

Finally you have Jesse and he has to be the worst character of the trio because he falls for the easiest bait. All Vandergroat has to do is start talking to the guy and you can immediately see him slipping. That’s just awful, you shouldn’t be falling for things like that. No shot and the whole thing is very embarrassing to the point where it’s hard to feel bad for him. He absolutely had to know what he was getting into and yet he just didn’t make a move to stop it. His greed got the best of him.

Then there’s Vandergroat who would easily be doing better if he would at least pretend to care about Lina. Instead he always acts like she’s just an accessory who will stay by him no matter what. With some more support they could have fooled the heroes due to how disorganized they were. Instead Vandergroat is just one of those guys who goes crazy with power and is determined to make things as tough on himself as possible.

I wouldn’t spare Lina from some guilt here as well. She lets the guy treat her any which way and still follows him when given the chance. I think she could have been more helpful to the heroes and just chosen them instead. Granted, none of the heroes are all that good but surely it’s better to be on their side rather than this guy right? It’s not like a future with him sounds good at all. Most likely she would be regretting this the whole time.

So what really holds the film back is that the characters just aren’t very likable. There’s a whole lot of internal fighting and it’s the only way the villain would have a chance here. Otherwise the film really could have been over in minutes. That’s how bad Vandergroat’s position was. Also there’s the fact that the bounty was for dead or alive so if the heroes had been more cruel, they would have shot him off the jump. The deck was stacked in their favor this time and they still come close to blowing it.

The horse dying scene is also just crazy. It should have absolutely been skipped. Why add a scene like that? Finally the ending is not satisfying. Way I see it, Kemp made the wrong call here. I get what the film is trying to say but it’s still not worth it. What’s done is done so why throw out something which can at least give you some value out of the experience? I don’t think it in anyway hurts your character or integrity by this point in the game. If anything you owe it to everyone else to finish the job. So the ending did not land for me at all.

Overall, You can do way better with Wild West films than this one. The whole thing feels very contrived with how the villain is able to split everyone apart. They’re all way too easily influenced. Why put so much stock into what the villain is saying? He clearly has an agenda and a reason to get the heroes to fight so listening to him is just asking for trouble. They probably should have gagged him right at the start. Would have been the smarter move imo.

Overall 4/10

Silverado Review

It’s time for a fun Wild West film and definitely one of the best ones in the genre. We get a cast of likable characters and there’s a good amount of action here. The film’s fairly long and so each character gets their own character arc journey. By the end of the adventure you will have had a good time. Whether you’re here for the solid writing or the fights, you’ll get what you’re looking for.

The film starts off with Emmett taking out a bunch of thugs and seeing that a man named Paden was almost down for the count. Emmett helps him out and then they collect Emmett’s brother Jake. They are saved by Mal after leaving a corrupt town and these 4 have something in common. They’re all going to Silverado. Whether they’re going for revenge, family, a job, they’re all going to the same place and this could pit friend against friend. Will these 4 be able to each complete their objectives or will they end up faltering?

As the characters are a big reason why this film is so good, lets dive into them right away. First off you have Emmett who is your classic wild west main character. He’s a great shot and has a lot of confidence as well. He’s smart on the uptake like when he tricks the sheriff into thinking that he won’t make a move so you have a very complete character here. He also didn’t hesitate in saving Paden as well which shows that he is a good person at heart too. That’s the kind of main character you can root for. I would also say he is probably the strongest fighter in the film which is why he had to be sidelined for a good chunk of the climax. It would not have gone too well for the villains otherwise.

Then you have who is probably the weakest of the 4 character-wise but in terms of skill he holds his own. He’s quick to fight back like at the bar when he wanted his hast so I can definitely respect that. I was less pleased with how he handles the situation once he has his job though. There’s some blackmail involved of course and a hostage which does stay his hand but one character gives Emmett some advice which I thought was rather obvious. Can’t have a hostage or blackmail if the person is no longer alive right?

I mean, in most films that’s not an option since heroes don’t murder and all but in the wild west that’s never a concern. All of these characters have murdered tons of opponents who got in their way and this villain’s as rough as they get. None of the main characters would lose much sleep if he’s gone. I thought it was a bit much that Paden didn’t come to this conclusion on his own and it’s just annoying seeing Paden just let his friends get beaten and interrogated without helping. It shows me that you can’t count on the guy which hurts him quite a bit.

Then you have Jake who is Emmett’s brother. He’s as confident as can be but isn’t quite as smart as Emmett and tends to get himself in trouble. Jake’s got a bad habit of messing around which is always getting people upset and not much you can really do once you’re arrested. Jake does have one good plan he uses near the beginning of the film though.

Finally you have Mal who has more of a quiet confidence about him. He’s not going around bragging like the others but is quite good at his gun skills. He saves the heroes at one point as well. His father is being bullied out of his land and so Mal has to put a stop to this and take care of the villains. His plot ends up being more of a revenge story due to how things play out and has the be the most serious plot of the bunch. Mal definitely does well in firing the others up for the big climax.

So we’ve got a lot of fun heroes here. I can’t say that I liked any of the villains but it would be really rare if I did. Wild West villains are usually guys you just want to be defeated pretty quick. McKendrick is the main villain here who basically rules the town with an iron fist. He’s rich so nobody dares to mess with him and all of the mobsters and crooks are in his pocket. His biggest mistake here is getting greedy and fighting off all these new characters. He should have just been content with what he had and maybe things would have ended better for him.

The writing here is on point and all of the characters are always reasonable. My only issue is when the villains show up and tell the hero to drop their gun…that should never work. Lets take one scene as an example. Mal is tricked by one of the townsfolk into heading into a trap. Mal arrives there where the villain walks out with a gun. Mal should have immediately taken him out there but instead he lets the guy talk as some more guys show up. At any of these points, fighting them off with a few quick shots seems like it would work and it’s only out of each once the villains have him surrounded.

If you’re in the wild west and the villains all have guns, there’s no way you should drop yours. At the very least you die on your feet while taking some of them with you. This is something I can’t help but notice in many films but it’s especially noticeable in wild west titles because of how everyone’s using guns all the time.

One reason this film beats a lot of the classic wild west titles is because the film focuses on the fun banter and good fight scenes the whole time. Usually the genre ends up making things rather gritty or just reminding you that it’s the wild west with animals being shot all around. This one really manages to avoid those things for the most part and it’s just fun.

It would have been nice to have really gotten to see the 4 characters fight each others but maybe it’s for the best that this didn’t happen because I would probably have been bashing the characters that sided with the villains. There’d just be no excuse for this and it’s why one of the heroes cut things really close there.

Overall, Silverado is a pretty solid film. It’s really got a good story here and quality characters. Seeing why everyone wants to get to Silverado is cool and it adds an extra element to the film. They’re all travelling together but what if one of them is more of a villain and the reason for getting to Silverado isn’t so great? Well, all the more reason to check this one out.

Overall 7/10

The Lone Ranger (1956) Review

So far the Lone Ranger has not had a very good track record with the movies. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the other two versions I saw but seeing as how this is one of the original versions of the character, maybe it would have more potential. Fortunately that did turn out to be the case and in fact I would say it’s way better than the other two. I wouldn’t say it’s great but it will keep your attention more than the others.

The movie starts off by introducing us to the Lone Ranger and his partner Tonto grilling someone about the recent talk of Indians with saddled horses going around and committing crimes. There is currently a treaty in the land so that the Indians and settlers respect each others turf but this group appears to be ignoring it. The guy doesn’t know anything but refers the heroes to town. There, the governor asks the duo to take a look into this since they are the only ones he can trust. Tonto and the Ranger solemnly promise to look things over and see that justice is served.

This is one of those films where there are not a lot of likable characters on either side though. The Indians are led by Red Hawk, a man who has helped the Ranger many times in the past but he is now getting old and is slowly trying to step down as leader. The main issue is that his replacement is quite eager for battle and would jump into a war as soon as possible. If this were to happen then casualties would be unavoidable and that’s not something either side wants. Still, Red Hawk confirms that none of his men would do such a thing.

As for the guy stirring up a lot of trouble, his name is Kilgore. He’s the guy who keeps reporting these crimes but of course aside from him and his men there aren’t many witnesses. There’s certainly no time to catch any of these guys so it really becomes a battle of words which is not ideal for getting to the truth of the matter. He wants to raise his daughter as if she was his son so that she can inherit the ranch and all of his belongings someday.

Kilgore’s wife isn’t happy about this but he basically threatens her to stay silent on this. Given that this guy is a complete mob boss who isn’t above murdering just about anyone, it’s not exactly easy to get him to back down either. Of course he needs to watch his back since one of his men, Cassidy is a bit of a loose cannon. The tables can easily turn in this kind of thing.

But at the end of the day they are your classic wild west villains. There isn’t anything particularly cool about these villains. They want to grab a lot of land and conquer as much of it as possible. There isn’t really anything to their development beyond that so I wouldn’t really consider them to be all that interesting.

As for the Lone Ranger himself, it is interesting how his secret identity is that of an old man. It’s an interesting angle but it defeats the purpose when he then shows himself right afterwards. I feel like with an identity like that you need to keep it on ice a bit longer and put some distance between both of your personas so that nobody will suspect anything. If you just appear back to back then it’s very suspicious.

As an old man I suppose he intends to get people to lower their guards. It works once but as an old man instead it makes the others feel bolder at times like when the Ranger attempts to interrogate a store owner. Lets just say that it did not work in the slightest. The Ranger has a cool scene where he shoots the rope before the town can hang Tonto though.

Long Ranger is a serviceable lead. He’s not the most interesting guy I’ve seen but he’s not bad either. He wants to fight for justice and get everyone to the right outcome. It’s a classic kind of character personality. The Lone Ranger doesn’t really add anything to it, but he doesn’t take it away either so it all ends up balancing out in the end.

As for Tonto, he certainly takes a lot of the risks here. Keep in mind that all of the villains are trying to eradicate the Indians so the Lone Ranger sending Tonto on a solo mission deep into enemy territory was very risky. If the horse didn’t alert the Ranger in time he definitely would have been too late. Tonto definitely had to risk it all in order to claim victory. He fought well too, but nobody can be expected to defeat a whole town. The Ranger definitely gives his allies tough missions like that though. The instant he asks a man named Ramirez to help him out, you’ll be a little worried for that guy.

Back to Tonto’s mission though, this is really where the Sheriff looked pretty bad. He talked tough throughout the movie but when it was crunch time he ultimately faltered. He just watched as this guy was about to be hanged and didn’t do anything. The leader of the relations office tried helping so I’d give him a lot more credit than the Sheriff. It’s just hard to come back from that.

The music in the film was pretty catchy. The Lone Ranger’s alter ego had a fun enough theme. I suppose the classic hero theme has also aged well over the years. So all in all, you’ve got a pretty decent combo there. I dare say that the music is a little better than I expected. The writing is on point as well. It’s a fairly chipper adventure although at the same time, the film can certainly get serious when it wants to be. It manages both genres well.

There isn’t as much action as you might expect though. The Ranger does get to have a fist fight with Red Hawk but that’s about it. Beyond that you just have a few gunfights here and there. Surprisingly the Ranger even gets bested in one of those fights near the end. I was definitely not expecting him to get shot in the chest. At the same time, I was not expecting him to tell Killgore where his wife was hiding so the Lone Ranger really liked to surprise me.

Overall, The Lone Ranger is a franchise that tends to not really be my speed because I’m not big into the Wild West or any of the old eras like that. That said, I think this film captured the essence of the franchise a lot more than the newer films. It had enough fun dialogue and character moments to keep me entertained. I wouldn’t say there is a lot of replay value here though. If you pit it against a lot of other classic films then it would lose but on its own the film really isn’t bad. It could stand to have a little more action but it does the job if you want something quick to watch.

Overall 6/10

The Quick and the Dead Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

The Wild West genre usually isn’t really my thing. It tends to usually squeeze in some animal violence with the horses and the setting isn’t as exciting as having a lot of cool buildings or things of that nature. A lot of the villains tend to be rather crude as well. This film does a good job of avoiding a lot of those possible errors by making this a tournament setting and the approach works well for the most part. Unfortunately the film stepped in one land mine near the end that shaved a few points off. It’s always rough when you trip right by the finish line.

The movie starts off with Ellen riding into town. She’s just in time for a big tournament that is held here as per tradition. The prize is a lot of money so Ellen enters but is money really all that she wants? Naturally the leader of the town John will be entering as well. His son “The Kid” decides to enter to prove to his father that he really is the best. Then you have Cort, a preacher who has renounced violence but is forced to enter. Then you have a bunch of other guys including the crude Eugene, the immortal Spotted Horse, Ace the bragger, and Clay a mysterious professional. This is one tournament that will involve a lot of fatalities so the heroes better be ready. You either land the first blow or it’s game over.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a tournament film. Sure I’ve seen some tournaments but it’s rare that they take up the entire film. That was a good idea on the film’s part because who doesn’t like a tournament right? The gun fights are on point so each match is pretty exciting. The countdowns to the draw are dramatic as well. In effect the film managed to capture the most exciting parts of a Western while shedding the weaker elements.

There isn’t enough time to give every competitor a big role but they all stand out in their own ways. Take Ace. The guy brags a whole lot but you know that he is doomed once John reveals the truth of his past. The writing in the film is pretty solid for the most part with a lot of intense dialogue. Clay’s backstory is also intense as he’s a guy mostly wrapped in shadow whose skills are the real deal.

Then you have Spotted Horse who believes himself to be bullet proof. He also is very skilled with a gun so he makes for a powerful antagonist. The worst competitor here is Eugene by far. Unfortunately he wasn’t content to merely be a bad character and did drag the film down with him. He has a small subplot where he is going after a little girl in town throughout. Ellen steps in a few times but unfortunately can’t be everywhere at once and also has to save Cort at times.

Eugene ends up catching the girl and that plot’s just terrible. Eugene is quickly taken care of afterwards but the damage is done both to the film and to the characters in-universe. It’s the kind of dark plot/scene that is completely out of place here. We understand that this guy was a true villain and that the town’s an awful place to live. You don’t have to go out of your way to make things even darker. I would say that single handily took 3 stars off the score.

It’s the kind of scene that immediately destroys any possible replay value as well. It’s a shame because the tournament set up was so good but you really just can’t get past that kind of moment. Eugene should have just been cut out of the film if anything and just throw in a random minion or something for the next fight.

Then we have Cort who is a pacifist but that’s usually an annoying trait in these things. It means that the villains spend all film pushing him around and the guy can never really fight back. By the time he is ready to fight it’s not like he is really in a position to do so anymore. He’s a nice guy but it’s annoying to see him as a sandbag the whole time.

Next is the Kid and he made for a fun character. He’s definitely confident and this is well deserved with how good his gun skills are. In the film he can certainly compete with any of the other fighters. One scene that was a bit much though is when he has a one night stand with the main heroine Ellen. Considering that every scene prior to that was her talking him down or insulting him, it didn’t make any sense that things escalated like this.

It felt like a quick way to cram in some last second romance to check a box off but even then it’s more of an affair than a true romance. I dunno, the scene was just completely out of place and also felt out of character for Ellen. Definitely would have been good to leave that scene on the cutting block. All in all Kid was a charismatic fighter though.

Then there’s John who is the main villain here. This guy was a lot of fun. You can see where Kid gets his confidence from. John’s rules the place with an iron fist and fears nobody. That’s because he knows that he can take out any other fighter if he so desires. That’s the kind of confidence you have at the top and his skills never dulled.

Finally there’s Ellen. She’s a solid heroine who is all business. Ellen has a tough personality and doesn’t even entertain the other fighter’s ideas. She just wants to win the tournament. As you can probably guess it has more to do with her origin than the money. I do think that considering her true goal, she had dozens of opportunities to pull it off though. I suppose most of them would end up with her being dead afterwards but it didn’t seem like she really minded dying in the process. To an extent I suppose this is true for just about all gun films though where you figure they can just shoot the villain at any point.

Overall, The Quick and the Dead is a very different kind of Western film. The fact that there is a tournament at all is just pretty cool. The movie does a good job of juggling all the characters. I suppose the tradeoff is that the bigger the cast, the more likely you are to add one that messes things up which is basically what happened here. If you can get past that one scene and all the dark baggage it brings with it then it could be worth checking out but otherwise check out FF VII Advent Children instead for a movie that lands the ending while also having a large part take place in a wild west environment.

Overall 4/10

The Fastest Gun Alive Review

It’s fairly rare to have a western without much travelling or gunfights but The Fastest Gun Alive manages to pull this off pretty well. It’s more of a down to Earth story about a guy trying to walk away from the business. Unfortunately the main character doesn’t end up being a likable character though as he makes the wrong decisions consistently throughout the movie. The movie survives despite him though and it’s a pretty solid experience. You’ll be kept interested throughout.

The movie starts off with the main villain Vinnie searching for a man named Fallon. Fallon is said to be the fastest gun around. Well, Vinnie takes him down in a gun fight and is now satisfied as the best. Meanwhile, news travels around to a small town where everyone is fascinated by the idea of someone being this fast. This annoys George because he is actually a very good gunman, but he doesn’t let anyone know it. He prefers to live as a very meek shop owner who just minds his business. The issue is that this all starts to get to him more and more. Will he remain strong or is it time to show everyone what he’s got?

Needless to say, George definitely doesn’t stay strong and quickly tries to prove himself to everyone. Part of what makes the character annoying is that he lets everyone get to him rather easily. He doesn’t help matters either by deciding not to dance or constantly going out on walks instead of actually minding the store. He basically leaves all of the work to his wife Dora. We find out later on that George also lied to her about getting rid of his gun when he kept it the whole time. He just made every kind of mistake possible and either got drunk easy after his half a cup or his desperation made him drunk. Either way he definitely did not look good during the whole saloon scene where he is making fun of everyone.

I can maybe get past that except then at the end he is too afraid to go out and fight Vinnie when the villain hears about this. Not only is this directly George’s fault for showing off but he is willing to let the entire town burn if it means that he doesn’t have to fight. It makes sense that some people don’t want t fight in a gun battle of course and George would usually have the right to refuse a challenge but not in this circumstance. It’s only when another member of the town tries to go in his place that George finally works up the courage to act. A lead who wants to be recognized but then immediately regrets it is just too wishy washy to be a quality lead. He should have just been content with the life he had with Dora. She did her best to help out and he wasn’t grateful.

Meanwhile Dora is a solid character. She does her best to keep George on the straight and narrow but at the end of the day she has her limits too and made sure to hold her ground. Moving again wasn’t going to be an option for her. She definitely didn’t support the gun business in the slightest. As for the rest of the town, they all seemed pretty friendly except for one guy who was always getting on George with some passive aggressive comments. It’s clear that the guy had some strong views about guns but at the very least that’s as far as he went. With the rest of the town seeming pretty supportive to me I still say George had a great gig here that he was willing to blow for a few minutes of fame. Even the older man who kept recounting the story about the gunfight was having a good time. It was a pretty thrilling experience for him so why not enjoy it a lot right?

We get one long dance scene in the film where one teen gets to show off his moves. It feels like the potential start to a romance subplot that never actually happens. I feel like there was more that was cut out from the film or something. Still, it’s a pretty solid scene because the moves are quite impressive. He’s able to use all of the objects in the room to his advantage with some tight footwork and clearly he has spent a lot of time honing his skills at the barn. So while the entire scene is really filler to be honest, it’s a pretty fun scene to watch. I’d say it even beats a lot of the more classic dancing scenes you would typically see because this felt more like an athletic exhibition.

Meanwhile Vinnie was a solid main villain. He has an honor code which I like and he was also smart enough to make sure that none of the other two villains would stab him in the back. The guy’s gun skills were also the real deal so he makes for a very complete villain. The icing on the top was the fact that he has a good honor code where he doesn’t attack kids or dogs. You really couldn’t ask for much more out of a quality villain like this. There is a lot of build up to his big fight with George and it makes for an epic way to end off the movie. The ending to the film is quite solid and a great way to wrap things up.

The writing in the movie is on point as you would probably expect. The dialogue is pretty strong and there are a lot of quality discussions the whole time like deciding how to handle the situation with Vinnie getting ready to burn the town. I may not have liked George but he was still written well and never got crazy or anything like that. All of the characters are pretty reasonable and even minor characters like Vinnie’s right hand man get some personality in their brief appearances.

Overall, The Fastest Gun Alive is a solid western film. I like the idea of several characters all fighting it out to prove that they are the fastest. It’s a title they clearly all want to own since it’s a matter of pride. Even George was more into it than he would let on. At the same time as a blind character in the movie said, there is always someone faster. Your opponent could have a jammed gun like someone else mentioned or maybe just a bad day. In a gun draw where both characters quickly try to fire off their shot, there are a lot of ways that things may not plan out as you figured. Every bit of speed comes in handy in those ties though. I would definitely recommend checking this film out if you like the Wild West. It’s an all around solid title.

Overall 7/10

The War Wagon Review

Usually I’m not a big fan of westerns. You do have some that end up being quite good but I find that the average one just doesn’t work too well. A lot of times the characters aren’t super likable and they usually end up hunting some animals in the desert. Well, this one ended up being pretty solid. The War Wagon really manages to grab all of the good Western aspects while dropping the bad ones. It’s just a very solid all around film that could have even jumped up to great status if you cut out one subplot that was holding it back.

The movie starts with Taw getting out of jail early and heading to his home town. He’s still upset because a rich crook named Frank ended up framing Taw and then stealing his land along with all of the gold. The guy is now extremely rich while Taw effectively has nothing left. Frank has an entire army now and basically rules the whole town. Taw isn’t going to let him get away with this, no chance. That said, he will need to get some men to help him out. The issue with just attacking Frank is that Frank has something called the War Wagon. Effectively it’s a tank that stores the gold and it is always guarded by about 50 men. Taw will need to recruit a few other fighters to help him out.

It goes the Magnificent Seven route in that respect as he has to get a bunch of people to help out. By far the biggest character is Lomax though. Lomax was an assassin sent to destroy Taw by Frank but fortunately Taw made a better deal. It’s good because while both characters do get a lot of hype here, I personally thought it was pretty clear from the start that Lomax is the most skilled gunfighter in the film. It’s why he has earned such a good living from taking out targets and everyone gives him a lot of respect. Lomax is also the best character in the film, any scene with him is bound to be a lot of fun. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

The banter with Lomax and Taw is solid and easily one of the strengths of the film. Additionally the gunfights are pretty solid here as well. There aren’t a whole lot of them but when they arrive they are worth the wait. One solid scene is when two underlings of Frank decide to bag the two heroes themselves. It didn’t exactly go well for them. In a gunfight on its surface you may figure that anyone can get a good win since all you need is one clean shot but that’s why the quickdraw is so important. The main characters can draw with lightning speed.

With two solid main characters supported by good writing and action you can already tell that the film was going to be good. Lets talk about the characters which are more of a mixed bag here. Frank is a solid main villain. He may not be much of a fighter but I thought he was actually pretty smart. The idea of a War Wagon is actually really good and he was careful with his money. He wasn’t taking any risks and was also quick to hire an assassin on his side. If Lomax wasn’t on the take, he probably would have won the film during the bar scene. That was definitely a fun fight I should say and a highlight of the movie. The film even has fun parodying the whole “battle music starts” kind of intro. You hear piano music start to play when the brawl begins but then the camera pans out and we see that someone was playing the piano who quickly gets booted off.

One of the worst characters in the film had to be a guy named Billy. For starters he is a chronic drunk who constantly puts the entire team in danger. Even after being warned several times he still goes to get drunk immediately. The guy keeps on pulling off this nonsense and so by the end there’s no way to find him even remotely likable. When the stakes are this high with the goal being riches beyond imagination, you’d think that you would be able to hold out for a few more days or as long as it takes right?

Then you have Wes who actually is the worst character. His subplot is the one that absolutely didn’t need to be in the film. Effectively he bought Kate to be his wife who basically had to agree due to the money. Not only is this plot completely out of place but it adds nothing to the story. It’s also unfortunate that the main characters are even working with him. Some characters like the drunk you can understand. They aren’t heroic but at least they’re still here for the cash and aren’t acting overtly evil. Wes was really a waste of time here and the sooner he left the better. Pretty much any scene with him is brutal.

Levi was good though. He came in clutch on multiple occasions such as striking the deal with a nearby tribe to help Taw and also helping him out at the bar. Levi even helped reduce tensions with Lomax when the guy wanted more money. Now this is a character who really pulled his weight and without him the team would have been in serious trouble. That’s why the characters are more hit and miss. I’d have definitely been cool with the whole group not really being formed and this being more of a quick buddy cop adventure with Lomax and Taw trying to pull off a big heist. Their banter would certainly go a long way.

Overall, The War Wagon is a solid film that really flies by. I would say one of its strengths here is that it’s just a fun adventure with a lot of replay value. Even the smaller scenes like the heroes debating at the bar can be pretty fun or Lomax having to stall for time as he gets Billy knocked out. It’s certainly not a perfect western but I would say it passes the bar of being pretty good rather easily. If you like the genre then I’m sure you’ll like this movie. It’s got all the fundamentals that you could hope for and then some.

Overall 7/10

The Legend of the Lone Ranger Review

It’s time to look at another adaption of the Lone Ranger. Unfortunately this movie was not good. In fact, I’d say it was a bad movie. I’ve certainly seen much worse and I wouldn’t say it’s terrible or anything like that but it’s just not that engaging, interesting, or fun. It really doesn’t do much to make you think of the Lone Ranger as a solid franchise or anything like that. Ultimately it just drives you away from the franchise entirely. Maybe someday they will make a good Lone Ranger film but perhaps the series just doesn’t translate well into cinema without mixing up the plot a bit. Throw in some sci-fi or something and that could help.

The movie has a whole lot of time jumps and origin stories thrown in. It starts off by showing us John as a kid though. His parents get murdered so he heads with Tonto into town. Another relative of John’s shows up though and takes him back to civilization. John then meets up with his brother and the rest of the Rangers. They’re betrayed by one of their own though and they all get slaughtered except for John who is saved by Tonto. John once again gets to be a part of the tribe and now he is determined to avenge his brother and the rangers by taking down the leader of the villains, Butch. Tonto agrees to come along so now the Lone Ranger won’t be alone this time. The two of them set off for an adventure filled with action and hype.

Right away one problem with the film is that John effectively has two origins/sob stories here. Why do you gotta murder his parents which causes him to join the tribe and then murder his brother and the rangers later on? It seems to be like they did this to give John a reason to go back to the tribe but why take him away from them in the first place? Didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me and if anything it just drags on the film quite a bit. You really did not need to go down this route and if the film had just avoided that then I believe it would have had better pacing. There’s not a lot that would have saved the film from its next flaw though.

It’s just rather boring. It’s hard to find any really great characters here and the plot is as slow as molasses. It takes eons for anything to happen in this film to the point where you’re tired out by the climax. Considering that this is a wild west film where everyone is corrupt, there aren’t a ton of gunfights either. One of the longest action scenes is when John is on a wagon that is attacked by wagons. The other characters try to shoot at the bandits. What does John do? Nothing. He just stays seated until the others are bumped off at which point he goes to the front and surrenders. That’s a great way to ensure you survive of course but it’s not the kind of action you expect from the hero of the story. I had to do a double take on that because I was absolutely not expecting this. I suppose the Ranger does what he wants though.

The only character I’ll give major props to was Tonto. He was a very loyal friend who had John’s back at every turn. He’s someone you can count on and I appreciate the fact that he was always there. He may not have been a terrific fighter or anything like that but loyalty is ultimately worth more than skill. Tonto showed that John didn’t have to do everything on his own and that’s a good thing because John was not ready to handle this. I do like the mask though. It may not be a very inspired costume but it’s definitely an iconic one at this point. Who knew that putting on a mask could do so much to make you a hero right?

As for Butch, he’s your classic villain in a wild west setting like this. He wants to be rich and cause chaos. Taking out the President will certainly achieve both objectives. This guy has enough men to launch an attack on pretty much any location that he pleases. There’s really nothing to him beyond that. He’s just another guy for John to eventually mow down once he gets past all of the guards. The President was pretty fun too. I’m always up for getting the President involved. I would have liked to have seen him really mix it up with the villains though like something out of White House Down. That would have been a blast even if it would have maybe gone against the tone of the film a bit.

In general I’m not a big fan of wild west films but I’m sure you can do them well if you really try. We needed more humorous scenes at least like the one where the ranger talks about how it’s not the bullet that destroys you but the fall. Then he is promptly destroyed by a bullet and was at ground level so there is no fall to be had. It’s one of those visual irony scenes that works pretty well because of the timing. I mean, it may be tragic in part but I’m pretty sure this was played as a funny moment or at least the movie knew that it was being ironic. With more writing like that and a focused plot this film could have been good. It’s not even like it made any super big mistakes.

The movie just comes across as rather boring which is something that you never want to be. The last thing a movie wants to be known for is not being engaging. The songs this film had are pretty uninspired and it doesn’t sound like the singer was really into it either. That doesn’t help. Then you’ve got some scenes that go on for quite a long while like John trying to get used to the horse or getting knocked out yet again and having to be nursed back to health. The movie will probably be more engaging if you’re really into nature and just like seeing the backgrounds but for me I need to be having a lot of activity on screen.

Overall, The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film that just didn’t work out. It forgot to actually include any thrills along with the plot. The backgrounds get very repetitive and the old setting doesn’t work either. The writing isn’t particularly impressive nor is the cast very memorable. The Lone Ranger may be a decent concept but this film definitely didn’t show me any of that. Don’t get me wrong, this still beats the newer Lone Ranger film but that’s really not saying a whole lot at all. I’m confident that the next Lone Ranger film will be able to beat this one. It has to….right?

Overall 4/10

The Magnificent Seven (2016) Review

It’s time to delve into the world of the Wild West once more. While the film is definitely way better than how the first series ended it doesn’t even come close to matching the original. On the whole it’s not a bad movie as most of the scenes are fairly sound but there’s a very questionable scene near the middle and the ending also falls flat with a very sudden backstory. This film tries really hard but just isn’t able to capture what made the original so fun.

The movie starts Bartholomew taking over a town and deciding that he will get rich this way. The townspeople don’t end up fighting even though they all have guns until it is far too late and they have absolutely no chance of victory. It’s always interesting to see this go down when everyone is armed because then there is seriously no excuse not to at least do something. Ah well. Emma then decides to find some gunmen so they can avenge her husband and save the town. She runs into Sam and he agrees to help after rounding up a posse. It ends up being 7 people total and they prepare to deal out some justice.

One thing the film does do right this time around is give time to introduce all of the characters. They all get a few scenes to make us aware of who they are and their personalities. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that they are all very likable. First off, the main character isn’t bad. Sam is a reasonable main character who does his best to keep a level head as they approach the villains. He really only panics at the end when the film decides to get gritty for no reason with his motives for why he took the mission in the first place.

Then you’ve got Joshua who definitely has the most fun out of the characters. He actually enjoys being a gunman and is always messing around with everyone. He also seems to be the most skilled fighter of the group if you ask me. I’d have liked him to have been the main character because he was easily the most enjoyable to have on screen. Then you have Goodnight who is traumatized and can’t fight very well. I wasn’t particularly a big fan of this guy. He isn’t nearly as bad as the character he was based off of in the older films but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

His partner Billy was a lot better. That guy had real skills both with a knife and with a gun. He was one of the most talented fighters in the film and you could always count on him to take down his opponent. Then you have Jack who is the worst member. He seems pretty crazy from the start and the guy doesn’t even use a gun much. I struggle to see why he was included in the film and if anything he just waters the group down by association. There’s nothing exceptional or magnificent about him in the slightest. It almost takes you out of the film when he is taking people down with an axe while they have guns. That doesn’t make any kind of sense.

Vasquez’s initial scene immediately makes him pretty unlikable here. The guy’s motives certainly aren’t the best. He has skills but that doesn’t automatically make him a quality character in the slightest. Finally you have Red Harvest whose opening scene throws him out of the picture immediately. We see him destroy an animal and then eat it which is such a pointless an unnecessary scene to have in the film. I was shaking my head the whole time. We really didn’t need this and in a way it delivered one of the final blows to the film. It was hard to come back from that.

The writing in general can’t keep up with the originals. There is a lot of friction between the characters but rather than it be because they all have big egos and a lot of confidence it’s more because they’re all portrayed as jerks. They tend to make insensitive comments to each other and flat out bully each other in other scenes. The scene of Joshua stealing the guy’s whiskey comes to mind. Then you have the fact that these 7 characters aren’t as great as they act. The main villain does a good job of taking them down for a while and they miss the shots that count. Joshua gets a great ending but most of the gunmen go down pretty easily otherwise.

Emma was a good heroine though and I was glad that she was able to fire off a gun. It’s always good to see people helping out at least a little because it’s your town so you should be defending it. If you just stand around then you’re not helping anyone except the villains for slowing things down. She should have been the one to get the original hero theme but it doesn’t really appear here. There is one scene where I feel like it was meant to be a bit of a homage but the music is very soft and it’s hard to say for sure. Either way I wouldn’t say it’s handled all that well. The main villain is given a reasonable role though. Bartholomew was pretty solid so I have no qualms with him.

The movie has a lot of little tributes to the various past films so that’s nice for fans I suppose. Since I watched them all recently it was a lot easier to pick up on them. Homages are nice to see but they don’t help to hide the flaws of this one. I’ve already talked about those so for a positive I’d say that the gun fights are pretty solid. There’s not a whole lot you can do with a gun fight after a while but they’re still pretty entertaining so the movie did a good job with those.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven remake is not a film that I would particularly recommend. It makes enough mistakes where I just can’t put it in the higher ranks. There’s no reason to watch this one over the original. It could have been worse for sure I guess so it’s not a terrible movie either. If you want to watch a modern wild west then this is probably better than a lot of the alternatives I suppose.

Overall 5/10