Wild Wild West

Wild Wild West — Star Wars meets Gunsmoke. This current movie starring Will Smith is based on a '60s television series of the same name. It helps to have seen at least a few episodes of the series to get some of the jokes, but even the uninitiated can enjoy this action-packed, good vs. evil western.

The movie takes place in the late 1800s, but is modernized with some high-tech inventions. Will Smith plays James West, a cool gunslinger employed by the US government. Kevin Kline plays Artemus Gordon, a US marshal whose passion is creating slick inventions (à la James Bond) that help them catch the bad guys. British actor Kenneth Branagh plays the bad guy who has “returned from the dead” with an evil plot to take over the United States and then the world. He kidnaps all the top minds in the country to create a mobile unit designed to go anywhere a spider goes, which is just about everywhere — and to destroy everything in its path. West's mission is to stop him.

On the plus side, the casting is excellent. Will Smith is perfect as the ultra-cool, distanced-but-charming gunslinger. Kevin Kline is his usual clever, wacky self for Smith. Kenneth Branagh is really good at being really bad. Salma Hayek, the up-and-coming Mexican actress, is equal to her role. But on the down side, it's a shame that the director chose to stereotype her as little more than a bimbo. That is one of the drawbacks of this movie — it casts all the women as “toys” under the control of all the men. However, it is meant to be a spoof, and women have traditionally been characterized that way in the James Bond series and many of the old westerns. Some of the dialogue is stale, but there is humor to make up for it. Even though there is plenty of punching and shooting, the director doesn't show any blood except for one minor scene.

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Films and God's influence
January 1, 1999

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