I wish I could say I was surprised by Jonah Hex's dismal reviews (13 per cent positive on Rotten Tomatoes) or crappy box office ($5.4 million on its opening weekend classifies as a major bomb), but I'm not. The writing was on the wall pretty much when they cast Megan Fox and I started hearing some of the plot points and that there major reshoots happening. I was still thinking about catching it when we were in Ottawa next week, but I'm likely only going to have time to catch one movie while we're there. If it's a choice between Hex and say, oh, Toy Story 3, where there are apparently only three people on the face of the planet who didn't give it a good review, I know which one I'm going to.
So why mention this? Well, two reasons.
First, I really happen to like the Hex comics. A quick scan of my bookshelf show I own six of the trade paperbacks. It's a great western series featuring a truly interesting character. I'm hard pressed to figure out how they managed to screw it up quite so completely, but giving Hex supernatural powers is probably a good place to start. I also hear the president comes up to Hex at one point and goes "America needs a sheriff, Hex", which is such a screamingly bad line, and so totally out of character for Hex it makes me want to punch Hollywood.
Look, he's a bounty hunter who doesn't trust anyone because he's been betrayed so often. He has a touchy relationship with the Apache, is surly even to the people who are nice to him and absolutely lethal to the ones who aren't. If you want to pay him to kill someone or find someone, he's your man. Other than that, stay away from him. Plus he has a dry, vicious sense of humour. I'm not expecting Unforgiven or anything, but you have to work hard to make a mess out of that kind of potential.
But then again, it felt like everyone just kind of viewed this as a property and not as any kind of labour of love. The best comic book movies the directors and writers have had affection for the source material. Or at the very least were phenomenally talented. That was certainly the case with Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man and the first two X-Men movies. Obviously neither of that was present here.
Oh yes, and Megan Fox should hear the same very loud clock that is ticking off her acting career. She doesn't get too many more bombs, I should think.
The second thing is that there was a while there when most comic book based movies were pretty good. I think that golden age is pretty much gone. I'm back to being leery when I hear of a beloved property being made into a movie. Last fall's Whiteout was so depressingly bad I wanted to scream. A great graphic novel by Greg Rucka, which is well worth picking up. The movie was something else entirely. I've heard that Garth Ennis The Boys might be coming to the big screen, which scares the bejesus out of me, to be honest.
Scott Pilgrim, which is coming out in August, looks good. But I live in fear of that one as well. But I think the director got the book, which helps. And that's the key when you hear one of your favourite graphic novels or comic books being brought to the big screen. If it's from a director who loves comics and has been a fan of them since he was a kid, then there's hope.
If not, well, then you get what we got last weekend.
1. Mystic eyes (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. Fake plastic trees - Radiohead*
3. Where nobody knows - Kings of Leon
4. Keep your head - The Ting Tings
5. In state - Kathleen Edwards