Wild Wild West (1999)

wild wild west poster 1999 movie will smith kevin kline
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 5/10

Not much

The characters, story, and visuals plus an overly long script combine horribly

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Wild Wild West

Studio:  Peters Entertainment

Genre(s):  Western/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Comedy

Release Date(s):  June 30, 1999

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

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Those Incredible Men and Their Flying Machines!!!

James West (Will Smith) and Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) have been assigned to bring in Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) by Ulysses S. Grant (also Kevin Kline).  Loveless has been gathering scientists and refuses to let the fall of the South go, and West is seeking to avenge the death of his family.  Teaming with the daughter of a captured scientist named Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek), West and Gordon will have to work together when Loveless threatens to capture Grant at Promontory Point, Utah as the transcontinental railroad is completed.  Loveless has an assortment of strange weapons to help him…and West has Gordon.

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I think I would have liked the movie more if Kevin Kline was in drag the whole time

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Wild Wild West adapted the CBS Western TV series which ran from September 17, 1965 to April 4, 1969.  The film was meant to build on Sonnenfeld and Smith’s previous success with Men in Black in 1997, but the film was met with high criticism, less than spectacular box office returns, and general dislike by viewers.  The film was a big winner at the Razzies and took home Worst Picture, Worst Director (Barry Sonnenfeld), Worst Screen Couple (Kevin Kline/Will Smith), Worst Screenplay, and Worst Original Song (Will Smith “Wild Wild West”).  It also received Razzie nominations for Worst Actor (Kevin Kline), Worst Supporting Actor (Kenneth Branagh), Worst Supporting Actress (Salma Hayek…and Kevin Kline who appeared as a prostitute in disguise in the film).

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Hamlet…to this…

Wild Wild West was a strange series to begin with.  An earlier attempt to bring it to the screen resulted in the remake of Maverick in 1994.  The TV show was an early version of the steampunk model with high technology in a Western setting.  Here, we get flying machines and giant mechanical spiders.

The movie first off is way too long.  The story’s humor is largely lost and what is meant to be fun becomes tedious.  The film’s script never gets the balance of the humor right and as a result, the film flounders.  Action-comedies are tough to balance, and Wild Wild West fails.

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Attack of the steampunk tarantula!!!

While the script is bad, a lot of the blame probably can fall on Smith and Kline.  The two actors just never seem to mesh (I know that the characters aren’t supposed to, but it doesn’t work if it doesn’t feel like their acting together).  It also doesn’t help that I just imagine South Park’s Eric Cartman singing Will Smith’s lame “Wild Wild West” song throughout the movie.  Salma Hayek might dress the part of a saloon girl, but the character doesn’t have much direction or purpose.  The movie also features appearances by M. Emmet Walsh, Ted Levine, and Bai Ling.

I like steampunk and think it is interesting, and it may have worked in the old series, but not here.  The visuals of the film seem quite cheesy and shouldn’t have been.  The effects of the series were allowed to be goofy, but here, they needed to be a bit more fine-tuned or better justified by the script (another failing of the writing).

Wild Wild West is a dull film and really not worth seeking out.  With plenty of better action pictures, you can do better.  The film isn’t bad enough to fall under the “so-bad-its-good” banner so it loses that fun.  Fortunately, though it was obviously set up for sequels, no sequels ever materialized…but in an age of remakes, who knows if Wild Wild West could actually come back in some form or another.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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