Friday, May 20, 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Anime Movies

     As you’d probably expect from my Blog title, I’m a big movie guy, and I love a verity of films ranging from musicals, to action, to comedy, to horror, to animation, etc. However, some things take longer for me to discover then others, case in point ... Japanese Anime. At first I had no interest in it, and for years paid no attention to any animated movies from Japan. However, as a man who loves movies, I occasionally like to explore and see new things. Once I started to watch some Japanese Anime movies and TV shows, I was instantly hooked. There is an art and style to Japanese animation that’s all its own, and very inspiring. In fact, many American film makers have been deeply influenced by Anime movies and shows. Over the years, I’ve actually begun to respect Japanese Anime as “on par” and in many cases even superior to American animation. 
I love that Japanese animation is very traditional, with little to no computer effects, mostly hand drawn and sensational to behold. It’s about time I post a list of my personal favorite Anime movies. TV shows like “Cowboy Bebop” and “Attack on Titan” would have to be mentioned on a different list. Also, this is a list of my own personal favorite Japanese Anime movies, it will include some lesser known films, some movies based on TV shows I grew up with, and less of the popular ones that usually populate most greatest Anime movies lists, so don’t have a heart attack if I don’t include such popular animated titles like “Akira” or “Spirited Away”. Agree or disagree, these are my personal top 10 favorite Japanese Anime movies I’ve seen.       

#10 The Girl who Leapt Through Time (2006) 

Ever have one of those days where nothing went right, and you just wish you could do it all over again? 
Well, that’s the common problem for a young girl named Makoto, who just needs more time to get things done right. Luck would have it that one day she comes into contact with a tiny device that allows her to go back in time whenever she wants to, and where ever she wants to. Now with all the time in the world on her side, she does whatever she wants to, like fixing little mistakes, study longer for tests, spend more time with friends, and just has fun with herself. However, there’s a small price that comes with her time traveling, and that’s an unintentional side effect it leaves on the other people around her. As the drama unfolds, we see a change in her, and how she utilizes her time travel. It all builds to a beautifully bitter sweet ending that’s among my favorites I’ve ever seen from a Japanese Anime. This movie is everything a good coming of age film should be, it’s funny, thoughtful, touching, adventurous, dramatic and wildly inventive, with one of the most highly effective visual designs that I’ve ever seen. It’s also one of the most original time travel concepts I’ve ever seen, and I love that the film takes full advantage of how fun, yet tense the experience can be. If you have some free “time” on your hands, definitely check this one out.  

#9 Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) 

Arguably the most delightful and simplistic of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated treasures is “Kiki’s Delivery Service”. 
I’ve always felt that this film is to studio GHIBLI what “The Little Mermaid” was for Disney. This is the movie that actually introduced me to Hayao Miyazaki, and I’ve been a fan ever sense. The film revolves around a young teenage witch leaving home to make a life for herself, and fate leads her to a small town where she becomes a delivery girl for a bakery. From there on, it’s just the life and times of this young girl, the people she meets and all the little adventures she has along the way. This could have been a very boring premise, but thanks to its lead heroin and cheerful overtone, it’s one of the most charming experiences I’ve had. Kiki is just so genuine and delightful that I just love following her on her journey. There’s something about watching a person just live their life that makes the experience feel very down to earth, just with a little magic thrown it. In Disney’s English dub version, Kiki is voiced by Kirsten Dunst and she just hit’s it out of the park by bringing the character to life with a personality that’s both young and sweet, but also grown up and mature. What can I say, with a lovable lead heroin, a light as air story and some truly gorgeous animation, “Kiki's Delivery Service” is a great film for the young and young at heart.

#8 The Wind Rises (2014) 

Director Hayao Miyazaki is often regarded as the Walt Disney of Anime directors, but personally, that’s not giving him enough credit. 
In my opinion, he should go down in history as one of the greatest filmmakers on planet earth. He knows how to write and direct near flawless films. His 2014 movie titled “The Wind Rises” is his final film project and a beautifully fitting swan song for the acclaimed director. This is the most down to earth of his films as it’s based on a true story, and takes place during World War 2. The focus is on an aviation architect who dreams of building and designing plains. He doesn’t have any political interests, he just wants to build air craft’s that will be of benefit for mankind, not just one country. Sadly his inventions are used as destructive weapons, showing just how costly someone’s ambitious dreams can be, even if it was well intended. It’s a very straight forward story about following your dreams, but it’s done very well as it addresses both the struggles and costs that may inevitably come from one’s vision. It’s a genuinely inspiring film and even a touch relatable. When you have a dream as a child, grow older maintaining that dream and envisioning it as you go about your daily life ... you start to see your dream present in other things. There’s also a love story going on that’s equally beautiful, and quiet dramatic. While the movie has some noticeable passing issues, it compensates with some breathtaking visuals, and a touching story that demonstrates the impact of one man’s ambition. The film runs the whole gambit of emotions as it follows this dreamer over 10 years of his life, and in the end, its quiet the journey to experience.


#7 Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie 2 - The Sealed Card (2000)


This film is adapted from an Anime show I grew up watching at a young age, and it makes my list out of pure nostalgia. Cardcaptors was actually one of those kid shows that introduced me to Japanese Anime in the first place, and the whole reason I took interest in seeing films like “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”. It's also very special to me as it was the very first Anime I watched in its original Japanese language.I can’t make a persuasive argument that this particular movie adaption of the show is “good” exactly, but it is still very special in it's own way, and I just couldn’t imagine keeping it of my list. The show revolved around an everyday girl named Sakura who’d occasionally have to protect her home town from magical oddities that had a tendency to disrupt her peaceful life. The movie “Cardcaptor 2 - The Sealed Card” was the shows swan song, and a more then satisfying conclusion to the series. Rather than close this fantasy adventure saga with a big spectacle, it’s a very subdued, quiet and peaceful epilogue that brings closure to Sakura’s journey, both magically and on a very relatable level. I can see how some viewers may regard this film as boring, but I love these characters, I enjoy spending time with them during their everyday life style, and it’s great to see Sakura finally get together with the boy she loves most. There’s also a decent magical mystery that’s slowly being unraveled, and leads to a climax that’s both thrilling and quiet touching in its own way. The animation is wonderful, the atmosphere is just as magical as ever, and when the film ends, it just leaves me with those warm nostalgic “feels”. Like I said, I wouldn’t recommend “Cardcaptor 2 - The Sealed Card” to anyone not familiar with the source material, and nostalgia aside, I know it's not exactly a great movie, but it's harmlessly derivative, and a memorable little trinket from my child hood.   

#6 Castle in the Sky (1986) 

Of all Hayao Miyazaki's classic Anime, I think “Castle in the Sky” is the most thoroughly entertaining by far. 
The movie begins with a young princess descending from the heavens with a magical crystal around her neck, and she lands in a small town full of miners. She’s discovered by a young boy who’s an explorer, and hopes to find a mysterious island floating in the sky. It’s soon revealed that the young Princess is in fact a descendent from the very kingdom on the floating island, and through a series of events, the two find themselves embarking on a journey to find this mystical land. Along the way they encounter air pirates, giant robots, and armored soldiers. Much like “The Adventures of Tintin”, “Castle in the Sky” is a strait forward action adventure that both kids and adults can enjoy. While it doesn’t have the emotional highlights of other Miyazaki films, it absolutely shines with creativity, imagination and an intriguing fantasy mythos. The setting of the floating castle in the sky is one of the most spectacular locations I think I’ve ever seen in a motion picture. The design is unique, the art work is stealer and it just creates this strong other worldly atmosphere. The film is also blessed with a very talented voice cast, including Anna Paquin as the voice of the young princess, Cloris Leachman as the high-spirited air pirate, and of course Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame as the voice of the main villain. Oh Mark Hamill, he’s always awesome voicing animated villains, and this is one of his most deliciously evil performances. With its fast pace, memorable characters, and imaginative setting, “Castle in the Sky” is simply a high spirited adventure flick, on par with any classic Indiana Jones film, and worth checking out. 

#5 Patema Inverted (2014) 

How does one describe “Patema Inverted” without sounding crazy? Well, I’ll start by saying that it’s arguably one of the trippy-est and most original movies I’ve ever experienced. 
The story revolves around a princess named Patema who comes from an underground world, but wishes to explore, and see what lies beyond. Her search leads her to the surface world, where all of gravity is reversed, and even the society is backwards. With her world literally turned upside down, our princess meets a young boy who actually has quiet a lot in common with her, despite coming from opposite grounds. Both are explorers, both dream of seeing the larger world, and both happen to be orphans. Together they form a strong friendship, get into several crazy situations, and aim to bridge their opposing societies together. It’s an ingenious concept that combines a wild upside down world with a social allegory, and it’s just so creative with its unique setting. It’s all about seeing things from a different perspective, which is so creatively conveyed by our characters. Sense we have people walking on opposite sides of gravity, it allows the animators to get really creative with lots of cool angles, neat shots, and some visually arresting imagery. The characters are standard, but genuinely likable, and they share some really nice scenes. More than anything, “Patema Inverted” is a film that takes familiar story elements, but combines them with lots of imagination, making this a unique and extremely entertaining experience. 


#4 Tales from Earthsea (2006) 

Once again from Studio GHIBLI comes the 2006 Fantasy Anime picture “Tales from Earthsea”, which is based on the book series of the same name. 
When a young prince named Arren murders his father, he soon realizes that he must battle the dark side of his very soul, because deep down he truly loved his father, and apparently had no control over his own actions. Prince Arren teams up with a mysterious wizard named Sparrow Hawk who vows to help our hero concur his demons before he can concur his enemies. Along the journey they encounter Dragons, an evil wizard, and a young woman with a burned face … yet she’s actually more beautiful than any stereotypical princess. I’ve always loved old school sword and sorcery films, and to see one come to life in the beauty of a Japanese Anime make this a personal gem of mine. More importantly, this is the kind of fantasy movie that Hollywood needs to make more of, because it doesn’t focus on big battles or over blown spectacles. This film is all about these interesting characters, and this mystical world that’s just dripping with atmosphere. The music only adds to the cob wonder that the setting creates, the animation is sensational, and there’s this subtle laid back tone that allows you to be fully submersed in this magical world. It has the buildup and high stakes of a fantasy epic, but it also has deep topics on the importance of life, and just makes the film feel like something special. 

#3 Wolf Children (2012)

Anime has a wide range of different styles and tones, but what I love the most is when an Anime can seamlessly merge the all too familiar and relatable real world with magic and the supernatural. “Kiki’s Delivery Service” certainly got the ball rolling in this regard, but I think it was the 2012 movie “Wolf Children” that perfected it. The story revolves around a woman who falls in love with a man who’s hiding something very secretive about himself. Turns out that he has the power to transform into a wolf at any time, and that he’s the last in this blood line of unique shape shifting wolf people. He’s not a savage monster, he still has a great deal of humanity, which the woman takes to heart despite his unusual nature. Once their relationship takes shape, two children are born who also have the same unusual condition of being part human and part wolf. Sadly the father dies, leaving the mother alone to raise her two unique children. The rest of the movie fallows twelve years of the mother’s life raising her children into their young adult years, and despite being a very odd premise, I still personally found it to be a very emotional journey with this unique family. What we have is a semi-relatable coming of age story, as well as a compelling tail of mother-hood, but it also feels like a classic fable you could share with your kids. The characters are all so lovable, and it’s fascinating to watch the kids grow and change over the years. One child is more interested in their humanity while the other is more in-tune with nature, and it leads to some very intriguing conflicts between the two. More than anything, I loved watching this mother experience both the beauty and struggles of raising two kids on her own. She puts herself through so many hardships but she still remains very optimistic about this beautiful gift she has of being a mother, and there’s just so much to admire from a person like that. I feel that anyone with experience raising kids or being a parent can take a lot away from this film, while also being submersed into the films magical qualities. The animation is breathtaking, and the movie is also paced really well. From beginning to end, I felt that “Wolf Children” took me on a journey through life, and I experienced all the warmth, fear, drama, change, amazement and beauty that it has to offer.

#2 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) 

Naturally I’ve included a couple of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic movies on my list, and there are still so many other good ones that I just couldn’t fit in, but here it is at last, in my personal opinion the greatest of Miyazaki’s films by far is “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”. 
I know most fans would say that either “Spirited Away” or “Princess Mononoke” are his greatest achievements, but neither of those films left the same impact on me that “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” did. This was only Miyazaki’s second film, and the amount of ambition, creativity and captivating artistry on display just blow my mind. It just feels like the most epic, and the most inspiring of his works, but that’s really all subject to my personal taste. The story takes place 1000 years in an apocalyptic future, where the earth has been consumed by a toxic jungle, giant insects run amuck, civilizations wage war for ownership of the last surviving human populations, and cot in the middle is a brave young Princess named Nausicaa who’ll fight to her dying breath to insure peace is made across the land. That’s not just peace with the other kingdoms but also with the creatures that roam the planet. Strait to the point, this film features my favorite Princess character I think I’ve ever seen in a motion picture. Seriously, Princess Nausicaa has a warm heart and charming personality, but she also commands authority, takes serious action and always takes charge in any given situation. The supporting cast too is also excellent, with some great vocal talents including the always great Patrick Stewart in the role of a mighty swordsman. Also for a film set in a dying apocalyptic future, it has quiet a beautiful atmosphere, and some visual marvels. This movie was made back in the 1980’s, and it’s a true testament to the art of animation considering that no computers were used in the making of the film, yet it looks so phenomenal. A great cast of characters, powerful performances, stealer artistry, epic storytelling ... “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” just seems to have it all, and is easily my favorite of Miyazaki’s treasures. It could have been my number one favorite Anime movie in general, but there’s still one other that wins over by a hair.

Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are some Honorable Mentions ...

Perfect Blue (1997)

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Your Name (2017)

Millennium Actress (2001)

Princess Mononoke (1997)

#1 When Marnie was There (2015) 

Even if you’re not a fan of Japanese Anime, this is a movie that I still highly recommend because “When Marnie was There” is as beautiful as movies get.  Beautiful in its artistry, beautiful in its storytelling, beautiful in its theme, beautiful in its atmosphere, and it’s an experience that’s just plain good for the heart. 
The story revolves around an orphaned and asthmatic young girl named Anna, who’s basically shut herself out from the world ... and she hates herself for it. Her foster family sends her on a trip to stay with some relatives, in hopes that it will help her asthma, and maybe even allow her to branch out of her socially confined shell. At first she has a hard time fitting in, but everything changes once she meets a mysterious young girl named Marnie. As the two spend time together, Anna learns how to live her life to the fullest and a powerful friendship ensues between these two young girls. However, something about Marnie is very “out of place”, or maybe even “out of time”. Something strange hovers above both Marnie and the house she comes from, ... something “Ghostly”. Mysteries soon unfold, origins get unraveled, deep life lessons are learned, then everything builds and builds to an ending that’s so touching and beautiful that it’s hard not to get chocked up over it. Seriously, I rarely cry after watching a movie, let alone an animated one, but every time I watch this film, I’m always tearing up at the end. It’s a movie that combines real life struggles with a magical “Twilight Zone” like setting. I dare not go into any more detail, because I couldn’t do the film justice, and it’s an experience that viewers just need to have on their own. It may be a very recent film, but “When Marnie was There” stands tall and strong as my favorite Japanese Anime I’ve ever seen, and personally, it’s one of my favorite movies. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wild Wild West (1999) (Movie Review)


     I’ve been around the block with movies for years, there are many I love, some I hate, others I completely forget about, and somewhere in-between are the “guilty pleasures”. Movies that I know aren’t good, but I can’t help but enjoy them on some small level. The 1999 movie “Wild Wild West” for example is one of my biggest “guilty pleasures” of all time. It’s not a good movie, but I still enjoy it for one reason or another, well, mostly for nostalgia. Back then I was a huge fan of Will Smith and I loved his summer blockbuster movies like “Men in Black” and “Independence Day”. As a kid “Wild Wild West” was my favorite Will Smith movie that I remember watching the most. It was done by the same director and film team that made “Men in Black”, it had that same style, feel, and sense of witty action hummer, so the two never felt that different back then. However, over the years “Men in Black” as only aged better, while I’m noticing more and more of the problems with “Wild Wild West”. This movie is widely regarded as one of the worst films to be released from 1999, and is often seen on lists of worst TV adapted movies, usually taking the #1 spot. On that note, I’ve never seen the original 1965 TV series “The Wild Wild West”, so I can’t properly compare this film to that show, I can only review it on the grounds of being a standalone movie. Obviously over the years I’ve noticed how problematic the film is, why it’s gotten such a negative reputation, but is it all bad, and can I find maybe some good in it?  

       Here’s the set up, its 1869, and a former confederate soldier called Dr. Loveless is threatening President Ulysses S. Grant, stating that he’ll take over the country with a secret weapon of mass destruction, which is being built by some of Americas top scientists who had all been kidnapped by the mad doctor. With the country at stake, the president assigns two marshals to discover what this mysterious weapon is, destroy it and rescued the abducted scientists. The first agent is Jim West, a head strong cowboy who’s had a personal grudge against the evil doctor ever sense his parents were killed in a massacre that Dr. Loveless himself ordered. The second agent is Dr. Artemus Gordon, a man who specializes in creating mechanical inventions and technology. Both have trouble getting along, but their pressing situation calls for them to put aside their differences and work together before Dr. Loveless unleashes his secret weapon on the nation. In short, it’s a very recycled formula involving two polar opposites who have to unite for the greater good, but in all fairness, this was actually one of my first films I’d seen to utilize this concept. The only other movie to utilize this concept before I saw this film, at least that I can remember was “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. We also have the lone hero whose out for revenge against the bad guy responsible for the death of his parents, and I think we’ve all seen that done before. However, I will give some credit where it’s due, because I love the way Jim West’s back story is revealed. He doesn’t say verbally that “this guy killed my parents, and I want him dead”, it’s actually conveyed very subtly in which we the audience can figure it out on our own, and I really like that.

     The cast is also really good, and Will Smith has never looked more awesome then he does here in his cowboy suit. In fact, whenever someone mentions Will Smith, the first thing that subconsciously comes to mind is him as Jim West. This is also the first time in which I was able to refer to him by his characters name, because in any other movie I always refer to him as just Will Smith or “the Will Smith character”. That’s not to say that his performance is any different from his other films, but his name is colorful enough to stand out. I also really like Kevin Kline as his partner Dr. Artemus Gordon. I can’t say that the two have perfect chemistry as their both working with a relatively weak script, but for what little they’ve got, their clearly putting their all into it, they have a lot of energy, and it seems that their having a genuinely fun time acting together. Obviously Will Smith would go on to say that starring in “Wild Wild West” was the worst decision he made in his carrier, as he turned down the leading role in “The Matrix” for this film, but I still think he had a lot of fun while he was making this movie, and it kind of transcends onto me while I’m watching both him and Kevin Kline in their prominent roles.

      Also, I’d like to comment that when I was a kid, I watched classic Westerns all the time with my father, and while I liked them fine, I always wanted to see something High-Tec and cool in this kind of setting. So “Wild Wild West” was actually the answer to my child hood fantasies, as it took place in a western setting, but was populated with gadgets, robotic contraptions, and lots of implausible feats of technology that obviously couldn’t have existed in the that time period. However, I do like the look and feel of the technology on display, there not overly High-Tec and have an old school steam puck look, with lots of moving gears, and contraptions. A common criticism is that the effects go way too far, but I honestly disagree. With the exception of the ending, the gadgets and effects are mostly practical, and on set with the cast. I will say that more care was obviously put into the effects then a good script, which is a noticeable problem, but the wildly inventive gizmo's give entertainment value, which for me draw a shield over the numerous flaws. Our hero’s travel on a special train called “The Wanderer”, and while the set is very good, some of the train’s booby traps admittedly look very cartoony and silly at times. I do like the verity in which we see Artemus Gordon’s crazy contraptions, and they lend to some enjoyable action. The action scenes by the way are mostly good, but nothing out of the box either.

     Now let’s talk about the absolute best thing in this movie, and that’s Kenneth Branagh as the villain called Dr. Loveless. Oh man, no other actor is having more fun chewing the scenery then him. Kenneth Branagh in general is a very talented and versatile actor, best known for his Shakespeare adapted movies, but in this movie he’s a lot of fun to watch as this cartoony evil doctor that’s aiming to take over the nation. I honestly find myself forgetting that it’s Kenneth Branagh in the role, the makeup design is great, and he just doesn’t feel like the same actor that’s so easily recognizable in other films. It’s a performance that’s deliciously hammy, with just enough subtle menace thrown in. I also love the design and concept of this character as he’s one of the few villains that’s actually bound to a wheel chair due to the loss of both his legs. The special effect on Kenneth Branagh’s missing legs is actually very convincing, and his steam punk wheel chair is a memorable design. He also has the added bonus of growing mechanical legs during a fight, which is another cool touch. Say what you will about “Wild Wild West” as a bad movie, but one thing that hasn’t changed for me is the villain Dr. Loveless, who personally is one of my favorite movie villains from the 90’s. Even his goons where kind of memorable, there’s a seductive Asian woman called Lady East, and a Confederate General named Bloodbath McGrath who has a missing ear that was replaced with a horn. 

     The only character I didn’t like in this film was this token female character played by Salma Hayek, who’s completely pointless. Now I love Salma Hayek, and have had something of a crush on her ever sense I first saw her in the movie “Desperado”. Unfortunately, her talents and beautiful looks are completely wasted in this movie. Now I typically love the token female characters, it’s one of my favorite movie clich├ęs, but even by token female standards she does so little in this film. In fact, she could have been removed and it wouldn’t have changed anything. She doesn’t do anything useful, her relation with the other characters isn’t interesting, she causes more problems than she solves, and she doesn’t even work as a good damsel in distress stereotype. There’s a moment when she provides our hero’s with some information on where the bad guys or going, but an earlier interrogation with one of the villains could have easily filled them in on that. Also, on a small side note, Salma Hayek always looked a lot younger and smaller in this film then she did in earlier movies. For example, look at Salma Hayek in the 1996 movie “From Dusk till Dawn” which came out 3 years before “Wild Wild West”, somehow she looks like she aged six years backwards between these films, and it’s always bugged me. 

     If your still reading my review, you’re probably wondering why I’m only “now” bringing up problems in one of the most hated movies of all time. Well, to be perfectly honest, I only have one real criticism with this film, but unfortunately, it’s a really big one. The comedy in this movie ... SUCKS! Right from the start this film is trying to make the audience laugh, and it fails miserably. As the movie continues, it’s still under the impression that it’s being really funny, when in actuality, the jokes are as dry and stale as they get. The majority of this films hummer is sexual references and innuendos aimed at the mail and female anatomy. I’d call it a nit-pick, but it’s a consistent problem that lasts all throughout the movie, and it just gives this film an uneven tone, and all around stupid feel. Every single inappropriate joke imaginable is made, from exposed body parts, to puns revolving around Cowboys and their “Guns”, it just goes on, and on, and it gets to the point of insult. There’s a running joke involving our hero’s dressing up as woman, which is by far the stupidest thing in the film. What’s worse is that these scenes are not short, they drag on and bring the film to a screeching halt every time. It’s bad enough seeing both Will Smith and Kevin Kline in female attire, but what really puts the salt on the wound is everyone's reaction to them, that grown men are convinced their actually woman, and attractive ... it’s about as stupid as it gets. To be fair, there is a hand full of funny moments, and even some enjoyable one liners that keep the film from being completely laugh free.

      Other criticisms are aimed at the films bombastic, manic and over the top tone, but honestly, this didn’t bother me as much. I just know I’ve seen movies that are a lot more exhausting and over the top then this film, like the “Transformers”, “Pacific Rim” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Heck, at least “Wild Wild West” has a good run time that’s under 2 hours, unlike the recent “Lone Ranger” movie that was over 3 hours. 
Now that’s not to say that “Wild Wild West” isn’t over the top either, it certainly is, especially in the third act, but I have to admit, I actually think it’s a really fun ending. Dr. Loveless finally reveals what his secret weapon is, and ... it’s a giant, fire breathing, missal shooting, robot spider! Okay, I don’t care what the critics say, I don’t care if this thing looks like it came right out of “Star Wars”, I love this giant spider, and the long, drawn out climax is also a lot of fun. 
We have a giant robot spider trampling through an old western town, blowing the crap out of everything, our hero’s launch an assault while flying on this old-school wing glider-bike, and it honestly makes me feel like a kid again. They crash into the Spider, and our hero’s find themselves trapped in the belly of the beast where Jim West battles various fun cartoony bad guys including a guy with knives for hands, a metal headed android, and it all builds to a final showdown between West and Dr. Loveless, which is short but satisfying.  

      Oh wait, I still have more positives to highlight, and that would be the music. The instrumental score composed by the great Elmer Bernstein is actually really good. It captures the same spirit of classic adventure hero scores like John Williams “Indiana Jones” score, while still being its own thing. It’s also utilized very well in honestly one of my favorite opening credit sequences I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I think the opening credit sequence to “Wild Wild West” is on par with any classic James Bond opening. I just love the whole art style, the different colors, and film footage. It shows you who the characters are, the different vehicles, weapons, and it’s just a really fun opening. Also some of the actual songs from the film are fairly good too. The song “Bailamos” by Enriqu Iglesias is still very upbeat, and memorable. Actually, I worked at a sports authority store for years, which had a selection of repetitive songs that got really annoying to listen too, but the song “Bailamos” was one of the very few that I enjoyed hearing regularly. Of course there’s the song “Wild Wild West” performed by Will Smith himself. The song itself is decent, but the highlight is the music video that went along with it. The sets, the costumes, the visuals and some well placed cameo’s from artists like Steve Wonder and Carlton from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, makes the video a real treat to watch. It also plays like a semi sequel to the film as we watch Jim West go on an action packed adventure to rescue Salma Hayek from the sinister Dr. Loveless. It’s awesome stuff, there’s gatling guns going off, a pretty damsel in a death trap strait out of a “Saw” movie, hero’s jumping through glass, and it’s actually more epic then the movie itself.  

     So, would I call “Wild Wild West” a good movie ... NO! This isn’t a film I’d recommend to anyone really, because it is stupid, it is over the top, it does have some really bad comedy, and a stale script. However, while the film is clearly bad, I certainly don’t hate it. It had some fun adventure moments, an exciting finally, a cool Western setting with gadgets, and an enjoyable cast of scenery chewing actors. This is a film I loved when I was younger, so it’s got some nostalgia value, and it still has some things that I enjoy, but as I’ve grown up, it’s lost most of its novelty, and isn’t that re-watchable. Can’t make any argument against the films poor reception, but I really don’t think it’s one of the worst things ever made. Fans of the show should just stick with the show. Even though I haven’t watched it, I’m pretty sure this film is a pore representation of its respected source material. Definitely better movies out there that I’d recommend people watch instead, but to this day, it still remains a “guilty pleasure” of mine.

                                           I give “Wild Wild West” 2 ½ stars out of 5.