You may find it hard to believe nowadays, but there was a time when superhero movies weren't particularly highly regarded. They were seen as nothing but cheap kids movies with no real weight behind them.
Then DC and Warner Bros started up the Dark Knight trilogy. It was darker, edgier and really shouldn't have been shown to children.
So DC thought "Why not try this with other characters?".
Well, we all know why, but BvS will have to wait.
Because right now, we've got Jonah Hex to get through.
|Where is he aiming that Gatling?|
|I heard it was rather important, or something.|
In an interesting twist compared to most movies, Jonah thought for the South. Although his conscience gets the better of him when his commanding officer issues a sadistic order. Jonah rebels and ends up killing his best friend, who also happened to be the commanding officer's son.
|John Malkovich gets to play a bad guy again. How do you screw up a movie when you have John Malkovich as the bad guy?|
Malkovich plays a guy named Turnbull, a lunatic of the "The South shall rise again" variety.
In this scene he's getting his vengeance on Jonah by burning his house down, with his wife and child inside.
He then brands Jonah's face so that he'll never forget who's responsible.
Because having your wife and child burned to death in front of you is something that'll slip your mind every now and then.
|I guess they put the filter on to remind people that this is a comic book movie?|
Flames engulf the screen and it turns into an actual comic book as Jonah narrates what happened. Some Native Americans found him and saved him, doing some shamanistic stuff that gave him the ability to talk to the dead.
|I guess dead men can tell tales.|
If you're wondering to yourself what the comic book explanation is for this power, then don't bother. He didn't have this power in the comic book. This was added just for this movie. I've no idea why it was added for the movie, but it was.
I don't even know who's responsible, since this film had 3 writers. Yeah, 3 different people worked on this movie. And none of them thought that giving him a random superpower might annoy fans of the comic book.
Back to the plot, Jonah hunted across the country for Turnbull, but he up and died from a hotel fire, depriving Jonah of his vengeance.
|Not that he looks particularly concerned by it or anything.|
With no vengeance to be had Jonah turned to bounty hunting to pass the time.
|I feel like I might as well just read the dang comic at this rate/|
So we exit the flashback to Jonah Hex dragging some corpses into a small town in the middle of nowhere.
|Do deserts normally have so many clouds?|
Jonah stops in front of the Sheriff and we get our first real look at the scarring he's known for.
|I've seen worse.|
The Sheriff tries to backpedal out of paying Jonah the bounty because it was for the four brothers, not just the three Jonah brought with him.
So Jonah throws the fourth one's head at the Sheriff.
|And that's how American Football was invented.|
Despite having all four men dead and ready to be buried, the Sheriff once again tries to backpedal on paying the bounty.
Although this time it's because he can get a much larger bounty for Jonah's head.
So Jonah shoots them all.
With gatling guns.
|There's suspension of disbelief, then there's this.|
After killing all of the Sheriff's men Jonah takes his badge and hands it to a slack-jawed yokel. And just as he leaves, he burns down the Sheriff's office. For some reason.
Here's hoping that slack-jawed yokel never needs to arrest anybody, he's got no jail cells to throw them in.
|And it explodes because of... Ummm... Reasons.|
Totally legit reasons.
Jonah rides away and we transition to the plot, where a train is moving through some plains.
|Pictured: A train.|
The train is carrying some highly classified military hardware, lots of soldiers and some civilians.
Because that makes perfect sense. Put civilians on the same train as the parts to your superweapon, so that the soldiers get confused about what to do in the case of an attack. Defend soldiers or superweapon?
Speaking of an attack, the train gets attacked.
|And it is naturally a small boy who spots the attackers first.|
As the commanding soldier gets ready for a fight the camera pans to show that the tracks ahead are littered with dynamite being prepped by the same man who torched Jonah's house.
The commanding officer reaches the rest of the soldiers, but two of them drop masks out of their hats and reveal suicide vests, because I think this movie wants to make a point about terrorism.
|This raises all sorts of questions, such as how they managed to sneak these onto a train full of soldiers, presumably from the same unit who would know each other's faces.|
The driver jumps from the train, because he's not a moron and one of the attackers separates the carriages, leaving the soldiers and civilians stranded.
|Three guesses where they stopped.|
The Joker-wannabe explodes the train carriages in a grand explosion that ignores the laws of physics worse than Captain America's shield.
|The dynamite was placed beneath the train. Yet the train explodes from the inside.|
It's probably nitpicking for me to complain about every explosion in this movie, but if you're going to go to the trouble of blowing up a train for it, at least have it explode properly.
We transition to the President who's chatting to some army men about the incident. They reveal that Turnbull's alive and that he's probably planning a terrorist attack for their 4th of July celebrations.
|Stuffy white people talking: The movie.|
President Grant decides to bring in Jonah, not only because Jonah has history with Turnbull but also because he's one of the most skilled trackers in America.
Which is a shockingly logical decision for an action movie to make.
We transition to Jonah, who's getting hassled in a bar.
|So he shoots him out of the window. Somehow.|
Mythbusters already tested that myth. Gunshots do not throw people several feet through the air.
Jonah pays off the damage and goes to find a prostitute that he likes by the name of Lilah Black.
In the comics, Lilah Black was so scarred that only Jonah could stand to bed her.
In the movie, she's played by Megan Fox.
Who, for some reason, wants to run away with Jonah Hex.
|Who'd want to give up such a luxurious life?|
Jonah turns her down of course, reasoning that everybody who gets close to him tends to die.
Which begs the question of why he chose to visit Lilah so much that she got emotionally close to him.
Their moment gets interrupted by some soldiers who want to speak to Jonah.
|The guns are just a formality.|
Jonah tells them where to shove it, until the name Turnbull is brought up.
Jonah rides with the young officer to meet his superior, who scoffs at Jonah and calls him unnecessary, showing off the future of technology a.k.a. telephone polls.
|Ironic that a film company would have an anti-technology moment about telephones.|
The officer explains to Jonah that they picked up some intelligence from one of Turnbull's men that they captured (How they found and captured him isn't explained) but he died during interrogation.
So Jonah goes and talks to him.
|How long ago did he die?|
Jonah grabs a hold of the corpse and he springs back to life. They chat for a bit, until the corpse starts burning up for no adequately explained reason.
|Also not explained? Why throwing dirt on the guy stops it.|
After some more discussion about hellhounds coming after him, Jonah lets go and the guy turns back into a corpse.
This was all entirely pointless. There's no reason why the guy had to be dead, he could have just been unwilling to talk, even under torture. I don't mind things being changed from one medium to the next, that's how adaptations work, but it has to be something that makes sense. Giving a guy magickal powers to bring back the dead? Who would even come up with that idea?
Anyways, Jonah leaves to go talk to Slocombe, the man who recruited the corpse to Turnbull's side.
But first, a random flashback out of nowhere.
|That brand was supposed to spell QT. Turnbull is clearly bad at branding.|
The flashback doesn't really show much, other than Jonah using his wife's tomahawk to burn the brand off of his face.
|That'll leave a mark.|
After we leave the flashback we get some actual answers. Turnbull is having a meeting with some smarmy southern governor whom he's been blackmailing.
|Tunrbull's an arse to his allies as well as his enemies.|
The smarmy guy has been giving Turnbull all of the classified intel, the last bit of which is the triggering device for his superweapon.
They have a bit where a captured soldier asks Turnbull to let the innocent go but Turnbull declares that there are no innocents. Just in case we couldn't quite tell that Turnbull is, in fact, the bad guy.
Elsewhere, Jonah goes to an illegal underground deathmatch ring to find Slocomb.
|And we get to meet this charming fellow.|
Jonah and Slocomb have a chat, but Slocomb doesn't give Jonah any information, so Jonah throws him into the ring with snake-boy up there.
Then blows the place up, because why not?
|And he befriends a dog on the way out, again because why not?|
Jonah visits the grave of Jeb Turnbull, the man who used to be his best friend. After digging him up he places his hand on Jeb's chest and Jeb returns to life.
And the first thing he does is punch Jonah in the face.
They talk about about why Jonah killed Jeb before getting back to the plot.
Apparently there's something about people in Hell watching the comings and goings of the people they knew in life, so Jeb knows where Jonah can find his father.
But again, this scene is entirely pointless. The writers could have easily had Slocomb give Jonah the information needed.
|Alexander is not amused.|
After an equally pointless scene where Lilah fends off a man who tried to buy her permanently, Jonah visits a man named Smith, who made those gatling guns.
|So the weaponsmith's name is Smith?|
This raises a rather large question. If Jonah has access to twin gating guns and enough bullets to waste on a random sheriff, why does he never use them again? The same goes for the weapons he picks up in this scene, he uses them precisely one time then abandons them.
|The guy has access to crossbow dynamite pistols and only uses them once?|
Seriously, either of these weapons would solve some problems he encounters later.
He now knows precisely where Turnbull is holed up and knows Turnbull has an army. He also has the element of surprise. So why doesn't he inform the US army? Load them up with all of these nifty weapons and just storm the place. Turnbull wouldn't stand a chance.
But no, Jonah has to go it alone, which causes enough of a delay for lots of innocents to die.
Anyways, after buying the two dynamite crossbows Jonah sneaks into Fort Resurrection.
|One good thing about this movie is that tomahawk.|
Once inside Jonah finds the blueprints for the superweapon at roughly the same time that Turnbull explains what it is to his underling.
It's a country-killer which the Northern army commissioned to be built, but then they saw what they'd made and got scared of it. They couldn't foresee anyone being willing to murder so many innocents in a time of war so they had it dismantled.
Which proves that the writer had no idea how military people think.
After seeing all of the plans (Including when, where and how, all of which would have been great info for him to pass to the army) Jonah spots Turnbull down a corridor.
So he pulls out the dynamite crossbows and starts blowing everything up.
|Despite ignoring physics, this is still an awesome scene.|
But then Jonah does something bafflingly stupid. Once he runs out of ammo, he just drops them.
|I know there wasn't a 'No Littering' sign but still.|
He has heard of reloading right? He's at least got pockets he can put them back in. What if one of the bad guys grabbed one and worked out how to reload it? Or worse, builds another one?
Then you've got an army of people trying to destroy America armed with dynamite crossbow pistols.
Once outside he lines up a shot at Turnbull but gets knocked back by a bullet from the Joker-wannabe.
Jonah manages to vanish, so Joker-wannabe very loudly tells his men to spread out to find him.
And no, it's not a trick, he genuinely thinks yelling his plans loudly is a great idea.
|Just because you dress like the Joker and act like the Joker, it doesn't mean you have to be as dumb as the Joker.|
Jonah of course kills the men one-by-one until Joker-wannabe gets the drop on him.
He starts taunting Jonah, who fires a shot into a crate of dynamite. It doesn't explode, but Joker-wannabe goes to look anyway, which gives Jonah enough time to escape.
|"I swear, I left him right here."|
Jonah gets of his horse and flees until he collapses.
At which point he has some weird hallucination about fighting Turnbull.
There's some half-arsed explanation about people near death playing out their unfinished business. I suspect that in actuality it was the originally-filmed climax, but rewrites forced them to alter how the movie ended and they just didn't want the film to be wasted.
Back in the real world (Somewhat) Turnbull is sitting at the top of a scenic hill having a nice drink.
|I have no idea what that device is, but I know it makes him extra-evil.|
He is of course not just enjoying a drink. He is instead testing out his superweapon.
Naturally, he is testing it out on living people, in this case a small town.
On a Sunday, just as they leave church.
Because when you want make a guy as evil as possible, why stop at just murdering innocents?
|Today's forecast: Partly cloudy with a chance of cannonballs.|
The superweapon itself is pretty cool though. Basically, it fires what appears to be extra-large cannonballs over a wide area. Normally a gatling cannonball launcher would be a decent weapon in its' own right.
But these aren't cannonballs.
These are bombs.
Bombs that are triggered when one of those Dragonball-looking things is fired near them.
|Now, these explosions I don't mind. These ones make sense.|
We cut to Joker-wannabe happily walking through the streets and singing a song.
|And waving his knife around, because he can.|
He's going to 'Find something Jonah Hex still cares about' and he of course chooses the one female in the movie. How he came to know that Jonah and Lilah even knew each other, yet alone cared for each other, is a mystery. Especially since he apparently didn't even know Jonah was alive until the previous night.
He finds Lilah and attempts to kidnap her.
Now, bearing in mind that someone else has already tried to kidnap Lilah and she killed him, she should put up quite a struggle right?
So, let's see just how difficult she makes it for Joker-wannabe to grab her.
|One slap. One very fuzzy and hard to screenshot slap.|
He doesn't even hit her afterwards. He doesn't physically restrain her in any way. He just slaps her, she slumps on her bed clutching her face and he drags her out by the hair. Seriously?
Ok, so she can get beat up, thrown to the ground and shot at by one guy, whom she then overpowers. But some other guy slaps her?
This movie's less feminist than 300!
|May I remind you, this was accomplished with one slap. At no point did he render her unconscious.|
We cut back to Jonah lying in a field somewhere nearly dead. Luckily his dog went and found the very same Native Americans who saved his life last time and they revive him again.
|This wasn't even part of the movie, this is just how they got him to agree to be in it.|
Ok, to be fair, at this point Jonah does send a message to the army explaining where Turnbull is and what he's doing. Of course, it's too little, too late. But it's the thought that counts right?
As he rides into Independence Harbor Jonah drops his horse and dog off outside of a bar. He tells a small child to make sure they're fed and watered, but not to tie them to the post. When the child asks the horse's name we get my favourite joke of the movie.
I know it's not much, but it's all about the delivery. Plus, this movie's been short on humour.
Jonah sneaks into the port that Turnbull's using by the simple means of walking up to the guard and hitting him in the face with his tomahawk.
Because stealth is for wimps.
Once inside, he finds the ship carrying the superweapon.
|And a flamethrower. That too.|
Inside the boat Turnbull is meeting with the smarmy politician from earlier. Turnbull thanks him for his services.
|"Anyone else getting a 'You have outlived your usefulness' vibe or is it just me?"|
Turnbull of course shoots the guy, because duh, he's evil.
Seriously, how did he not see this coming? The known lunatic with a penchant for murder was blackmailing you to steal a superweapon and destroy the government, you'd think he might take some precautions.
Jonah sneaks onto the ship but gets spotted by Joker-wannabe, who jumps him. They duke it out for a while, until Jonah gets the upper hand.
|By setting it on fire.|
He slams his hand against Joker-wannabe's face, before introducing his head to a propeller blade in motion.
|Not that he looks too put out by it.|
Jonah looks at the dead body and decides that it hasn't suffered enough, despite knowing for a fact that Hell exists. So he revives it only to watch him burn in agony.
|This moment almost makes up for the pointlessness of him having the power in the first place. Almost.|
Jonah sneaks onto the ship proper and aims a gun at Turnbull, who's giving a speech. However, Turnbull spots him and drags Lilah onto the stage.
|Remember when she was a strong, independent woman? Me neither.|
Jonah throws his gun to the ground and gets knocked out.
When he wakes up the ship is approaching Washington DC, where Grant is giving a speech (And Smith is in the crowd, with his two sons, in case the movie expected us to be emotionally invested or something).
As they approach though a ship intercepts them, which turns out to have the officers from earlier on it.
|These guys. They've had screentime. About five minutes between them.|
Turnbull decides to fire the superweapon at them. The explosive cannonballs embed themselves onto their ship and they just stand there staring as the Dragonball is fired into it, killing them all.
Presumably Grant informed at least one of them how the superweapon worked? They at least knew how powerful it was. Yet neither thought to so much as yell 'Abandon ship' when they got fired on?
No wonder they needed Jonah to find Turnbull, these two couldn't find their asses with a mirror and a map.
Back to Jonah and Lilah, who've been chained up but left unguarded.
|I enjoy seeing Megan Fox tied up as much as the next guy, but this is just stupid.|
Jonah asks Lilah if she's still got a weapon that she hides on her person, but she says that they took them all.
Which raises even more questions about how she was captured.
If Jonah can name three different weapons that she normally has stashed away on her person, why didn't she use any of them against Joker-wannabe?
This is a common problem with modern action movies. They want to have a strong female lead who can kick ass and take names, but they also want to have her be the damsel in distress for the hero to save.
I'm not saying that you can't have you cake and eat it too, just make it realistic. If you show the woman kicking ass then you can't have her inexplicably become a wimp when she needs to be kidnapped. Have her fight back but eventually be overwhelmed by a superior fighter (Or numbers). Or don't make her a fighter at all, you don't need to be a fighter to be a strong character.
Just don't have her go down because of a single slap to the face. It's just insulting.
Anyway, Lilah frees herself from the handcuffs using a hairpin and they begin to make their escape, because apparently the guards weren't even facing the right direction.
|Or even in the right room, for that matter.|
They fight their way through the ship, splitting up so that Jonah can go after the gunner.
|Did the ship need a flamethrower? Probably not. But if one's available, why not?|
Lilah discovers Jonah's tomahawk on one of the corpses and grabs it just as Jonah attacks the gunner.
Unfortunately Turnbull grabs him and their struggle forces them to lose their footing and fall into the interior of the ship.
The Gunner starts firing lots and lots of explosive cannonballs into Washington DC, but gets jumped by Lilah.
|Now this is more like it.|
Unfortunately, he notices Lilah sneaking up behind him (Somehow, she actually made less noise than Jonah did and he was somewhat successful) and he effortlessly flings her to the ground before pressing his boot to her neck.
|And she was doing so well too.|
Down below Jonah and Turnbull fight. It would be a cool fight scene if it wasn't interspersed with scenes from the hallucination earlier.
Meanwhile, the Gunner pulls the lever to fire the Dragonball whilst Lilah tries to reach the tomahawk. She accidentally knocks it down below however, but luckily Jonah grabs it and uses it to turn the tables.
|See? It's more fun to follow the progress of the tomahawk than it is to listen to the characters.|
Jonah rams Turnbull in between the gears before heading above deck to save Lilah.
|I don't think he likes his new collar. It looks a bit tight.|
Jonah punches out the Gunner, grabs Lilah and they jump off the ship, just as the Dragonball slips and falls, detonating the whole thing.
|Thy sure are lucky that explosions don't travel well underwater, or else all of their internal organs would be mulsh.|
Jonah meets with President Grant, who offers Jonah a badge as an official lawman, but Jonah turns him down, saying that he'll be available if he's needed.
And the movie ends, after barely more than an hour.
This movie was not good.
Sure, it had some good humour at times. The makeup was fantastic (Josh Brolin wore it the entire time on set so that he could get used to it). The acting was also rather decent, even from Megan Fox whom I'm not normally a fan of.
So where did it go wrong?
Well, the plot was rather lazy. The villain, whilst well-acted, was rather boring beyond being John Malkovich. The female lead was strong and badass except when it mattered, wherein she instead become a dainty flower.
And the dead-raising thing? Utterly pointless and an insult to the fans of the comic, since it didn't even exist there.
The music was awesome though.