When reviewing a Blu-Ray or DVD of a film that was universally lambasted during its theatrical release you hope to find that silver lining…some positive aspect that may have been missed. Unfortunately that is not the case with Jonah Hex. Let’s start with the tagline “Based on the legendary DC Comics Character”. You can apply the word legendary to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, etc…but you’d be hard pressed to say it is appropriate in the case of Jonah Hex. At best, this is a third tier “Western” character created at a time when few people were reading Western comics.
Josh Brolin plays the title role although his origins were drastically changed from the comics. In the film, Hex is a Confederate soldier who betrays his commanding officer Quentin Turnbull (Malkovich) when Turnbull plans to destroy a hospital. Turnbull’s son is killed and in revenge, Turnbull kills Hex’s family and brands his face. Left for dead, He is rescued by a tribe of Native Americans. His near death experience leaves him with the ability to resurrect and speak with the dead. Believing Turnbull died in a fire, Hex becomes a notorious and wanted bounty hunter.
Turnbull is still very much alive and plans to build an 1800’s version of a nuclear weapon to attack the union on the country’s 100th centennial celebration. President Grant (Aidan Quinn) sends soldiers to find Hex and recruit him back into the military in order to stop Turnbull’s plan. Look, didn’t Wild Wild West teach filmmakers that if you’re going to make a Western…make a Western. Not a Sci-fi film set in the West with nuclear cannon balls, horse-mounted Gatling guns, flame-throwers, and crossbow-propelled grenades.
The entire plot is an ordeal in silliness of the highest order. There’s flashbacks to Hex’s past, flashbacks when he talks to the dead, and some inexplicable hallucinations Hex has about a duel to the death with Turnbull. When Hex is nearly killed by Turnbull’s henchmen Burke he is again saved by some Native Americans who just happened to be in the area or perhaps Hex had them on retainer.
The characters are flatter than the comics they are based on…Megan Fox is along for the ride to do no more than look good (and isn’t that act growing old) and play Hex’s love interest in a film that didn’t need a romantic sub-plot. Malkovich is a wonderful actor but this is a cookie-cutter villain role that is beneath an actor of his talent. Perhaps Brolin may be that one silver lining. He does an admirable job of portraying the anti-hero Hex but he simply doesn’t have much to work with.
You have to wonder what Warner Bros and DC are thinking. With 75 years worth of characters and stories we get films like Jonah Hex, The Losers, and Constantine and they can’t even get a decent Superman film off the ground. With a mere 82 minute running time (including end credits) you might think that it’s a breakneck pace but it’s not. There’s more that a couple of moments that will have you slapping your face to keep you awake. And what kind of film has an 82-minute run time outside of kid’s films anyway?
Deleted Scenes – (5:11) Nothing of great import. There’s an alternate scene where the Union soldiers arrive to recruit Jonah that takes place in the forest rather than in the hotel room. There’s also an eerie scene where Jonah is walking through a cemetery in New Orleans during a parade.
The Inside Story of Jonah Hex (11:00) A look at the history of the Jonah Hex character with interviews with Co-creator Tony DeZuniga, Jimmy Palmiotti, Dan DiDio, Joe Lansdale, and Tim Truman. Looks at the origins in the comics and the more violent approach the creators took with the stories and Hex being an atypical superhero who did whatever he had to do to survive. Follows the character from his creation in the early 1970’s to the futuristic “Hex” series to the Vertigo stories written by Lansdale.
The Weird Western Tales of Jonah Hex - With this mode turned on you can watch the film with pop-up video commentary and interviews with cast and crew. Probably the most enjoyable aspect of the entire Blu-Ray. There’s a wealth of behind the scenes footage, great stories and anecdotes from the set, and interesting interviews. Sometimes the commentary is specific to the scene you’re watching and other times its more background info about the productions. You also get to see a lot of the pre-production artwork that was used to design costumes, makeup, and set pieces.