(US); 1999; Rated PG-13; 107 Minutes
Will Smith: James West
Kevin Kline: Artemus Gordon
Kenneth Branagh: Dr. Loveless
Salma Hayek: Rita
Produced by Tracy Glaser, Barry Josephson , Kim LeMasters,
Jon Peters, Graham Place, Joel Simon, Chris Soldo, Barry
Sonnenfeld and Bill Todman Jr.; Directed by Barry
Sonnenfield; Screenwritten by S.S. Wilson, Brent
Maddock, Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman
by DAVID KEYES
only thing worse than seeing horrible movies is witnessing
audiences enjoying them. Oftentimes you sit there with a
dazed expression, feeling disheartened by the fact that
human beings can actually admire such trash. We frequently
asks ourselves, "have these people suffered much brain damage?"
If that is the case, then these kinds of viewers apparently
have a lot in common with the filmmakers. At least, that
seems to be the problem here with "Wild Wild West," a film
which audiences enjoyed, and proves that someone behind
the camera was definitely missing a few brain cells when
the idea was brought up. Here is a movie that defies decency
and competence. But what did you expect from a picture in
which Will Smith explains that 'redneck' means 'power,'
and that beating a woman's breasts like a drum is an African
way of communicating?
I were writing an essay on "what not to do when making movies,"
half of my references would be directed here, to a movie
that practically violates every cinematic rule in existence.
Need examples? Try these on for size:
not use hand-held cameras when following a chase through
a thicket of trees. Images become jumbled, fuzzy, and fragmented
*When the main character is seen naked, do not emphasize
on the crotch area so much. People seem to always stare
at it like they've never seen one before.
*Stereotypes are not funny. Do not include them when the
main character is African American.
*If you are going to dress Kevin Kline up in drag, make
sure he doesn't look like a real woman.
*Two people shouldn't have a physical encounter inside
a wooden water tower, especially when the horse below
goes wacko and breaks one of the leg supports.
*If a movie uses a single line more than three times in
the same scene, it's time for a few rewrites.
*When someone asks "can I ask you a question?", don't
end the scene with a mechanical spider riding off into
the sunset. Give the guy a chance to ask the question.
*Stop degrading Salma Hayek. It's bad enough she wears
hardly anything but lingerie during her time on screen,
but it's worse when we see the back of her sleeping outfit
wide open, revealing attire that distracts Mr. West and
Artemus Gordon from their plans.
*It is pointless to remove Kenneth Brannagh's legs with
special effects. A villain like this can be just as convincing
and effective if he was able to walk.
*The belief that someone who has his head chopped off
imprints his final memory in the back of his eye is nonsense.
Furthermore, don't expect me to believe that, if you open
up his skull and project his eyes onto a canvas, you are
going to get a clear picture.
*Never let Will Smith get lost in the desert. Watching
him roast another lizard and then chomping down on it
would be unbearable.
*If there is such a place called Spider Canyon, make sure
there are real spiders there.
*Enough already with the jokes of body fluids. There is
a scene in the movie when someone tilts his megaphone
to the floor, clears his throat, and mucus drains through
*When Kevin Kline has no mustache in a film intended to
be a comedy, then chances are the movie isn't very funny.
*Mechanical spiders the size of apartment complexes are
impossible creations for the 1870s. A filmmaker must be
really brave if he expects anyone to believe such a thing
could ever exist at that time period.
didn't want to review this movie. It is an obnoxious, sexist,
crude, disgusting, and dead-in-the-water series of lame
actions and insipid character situations that make last
year's pathetic "Armageddon" seem worth all the hype. And
because we critics think of it that way, that will ensure
the film's financial success, and the continuing screen
popularity of Will Smith. Even though every one of his movies
has been a labored conceit of boredom and stupidity, he
draws in audiences like crazy. There are even people who
call him "the king of Independence Day weekend." Undoubtedly,
"Wild Wild West" carries the box office potential of "Men
In Black" and "Independence Day," simply because of his
presence. That factor alone will perhaps ensure him success
with any movie studio in need of financial success.
by the lame action sequences and unfunny jokes, I was instantly
reminded of Hollywood's old westerns, in which guns were
drawn faster then they were shot, sheriffs kept their sharp
eyes on criminals, poker was big and everyone was money-hungry.
Imagine what a real cowboy would have thought if he had
seen a large mechanical spider crawling his way.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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