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Action -Comedy

Wild Wild West (1999)

Duration1h 46m
RatingsUK: 12A, USA: PG13, Norway:15 
Source of storyA TV series of the same name, with the same themes.
DirectorBarry Sonnenfeld
Writers/ScriptS.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
StarringWill Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Salma Hayek, M. Emmet Walsh, Ted Levine, Bai Ling,
RatingsIMDb: 4.9/10 by 162,982 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 16% by 131 reviewers. Review2view 6/10.

Summary: It is 1969. A couple of government agents, Jim West, who sports tailored cowboy gear, and Artemus Gordon, who favours elaborate disguises, are on the trail of a confederate general and some missing scientists at the behest of the president. Meanwhile it is revealed that mad scientist Dr Loveless, who has lost the lower part of his body and moves about in a steam powered wheelchair, has a plan to take over the United States. He is pursued by Jim and Artemus who have picked up the charming Rita Escobar, who claims to be searching for her scientist father. They travel in Artemus’s private train. Meanwhile the president is at a ceremony connecting the railways across the states, when he is captured by Loveless in a vast mechanical spider. Jim, Artemus and Rita are also captured but can they turn the tables on the megalomaniac.

Content: No sex or nudity although intent is often implied. All Loveless’s henchwomen and Rita are always clad in some sort of 1860s burlesque gear, and ladies are just a bit unclad in the brothels. There are a whole variety of major scenes mostly requiring Jim to engage in athletic activities or Artemus to operate some sort of clever inventions. There are guns but very little shooting. Major set pieces involve Loveless’s experimental tank. His mechanical spider and his headquarters looking like a remake of the Crystal Palace.

A View:  Oh dear. The critics hated this and it swept the board at the Razzies, winning in almost all categories. Although the box office covered production costs it is said to have lost money. I think its big problem was Will Smith, who dominated the first half of the film, mainly clad is sort of pantomime gunslinger’s costumes. Later when we get a bit more into steam punk stuff it improves and I thought the hydraulic steam powered spider was inspired. I was reminded of a trip to India where I saw steam powered fans in the maharajah’s living room. But, back to the film. It is not quite as bad as it first appears, so maybe a watch while doing something else.

Barry Sonnenfeld reviewed on this site have included Men in Black 3, The Adams Family and Big Trouble.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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