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Wild Wild West
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Product Description

One of the box-office smashes of the summer of 1999, this film by director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Get Shorty) was raked by critics but embraced by audiences. Based on the 1960s TV adventure show that starred Robert Conrad, this film reimagined Secret Service agent James West as Will Smith, adding Oscar-winner Kevin Kline as his sidekick, agent-inventor Artemus Gordon. President Ulysses S.?Grant puts West and Gordon on the trail of malign genius (and former Confederate soldier) Dr.?Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) in a story about racism, partnership, and world domination. The special effects are lavish, even garish, but not all that special; they're not enough to elevate a mundane and familiar plot. Even Branagh, playing a man who only exists from the waist up--literally--can't find the juice in this lumbering affair. Still, the fast-talking team of Smith and Kline is a nimble one. Smith's affable charm and Kline's subversive wit win many points, though not nearly enough. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews:

  • Who's West Was It?
    In the mid-60s there was a show called "Wild Wild West" that starred Robert Conrad as James "Jim" West, a western version of James Bond, and Ross Martin as his brainy sidekick Artemus Gordon. This show was creative and intelligent and yet full of action. The movie "Wild Wild West" starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline has nothing to do with that television show, unfortunately.

    Will Smith is another Jim West and Kevin Kline is another Artemus Gordon in an alternate universe that never existed. In this universe the Wright brothers apparently were asleep as Artemus and Jim were tooling around a giant steam-powered iron spider that is unlikely to exist in any imaginable reality. Indeed, the only point of any vague historical accuracy is that there was a President Grant and there was a meeting of the railroads. After that, this movie is "The Twilight Zone" in the west.

    In this fantasy movie Kenneth Branagh plays Dr. Loveless. Once again, forget the wonderful Michael Dunn as the original Dr. Loveless. Branagh has none of the charm and wit of the original. Dr. Loveless has decided to create his own empire based on the ability of his giant spider to trounce anyone who gets in his way. However, he seemed to have neglected to consider that an open cockpit is a sure way to eventually be shot. Along the way we see a number of other equally improbable devices that make for interesting special effects but continual disappointment with the movie.

    I have yet to mention that not only is this west some bizarre fantasy version of the original west, but this version of Jim West has a continual string of one-liners that would have allowed him to do stand-up, but not in the alternate reality of this movie where no one seemed to understand his jokes, often including the audience. Kevin Kline also had a number of humorous lines, though his were more ironic and involved, and typically based on technology that exists only in the alternate reality of this world.

    This movie does have its moments. If you like comedy and know little about the original "Wild Wild West," you may find the comedy overwhelms the total destruction of history and scientific feasibility; or perhaps you like stories of alternate realities. The special effects are wonderful. I admit that when I could overcome my disappointment that there was no attempt to remain within the vision of the original show I was fascinated by the gadgets. However, gadgetry alone does not overcome the unbelievable story.

    Oh, and as if all the other flaws in the movie were not enough to disappoint a viewer, the DVD includes Will Smith doing a hip-hop song. Hip-hop in the west? Perhaps I watched this movie from the wrong perspective. Maybe if I had taken it for a farce, like "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," I would have liked the movie better. Then again, probably not.

    ...more info
  • Political Correctness Gone Overboard
    Why does modern day Hollywood try forcing political correctness on us??? Will Smith as James West trying to save the country in 1869? Sorry but I know my history and this is an insult to it. Consider that in 1869 a black man was nothing more than a freed slave, and would not have been granted such a task befitting John Steed or James Bond. This is not a racist remark. Rather, it's the truth. Just like modern Hollywood to ignore history. Nothing against Will Smith. He is a fine actor. I enjoy his work. However, through no fault of his own, he is seriously miscast in this one. I realize that Hollywood has a dramatic license, but please try to at least make sense....more info
  • What Were They Thinking?
    Wild Wild West is one of those movies that make you wonder just what were they thinking when this movie was being made. One thing that is absolutely essential for enjoying a movie is the suspension of disbelief. That is, you have to be able to believe that what's on the screen could really happen the way that things on the screen are happening. The things that go on in this movie make that impossible. Example: there is a gigantic steam-powered spider. Even with today's advanced technology, such a contraption would be just about impossible to build and get to operate properly, let alone in 1869.

    Once again: What were they thinking?...more info

  • Unhearalded Masterpiece
    The grotesquelly underestimated "Wild Wild West" is surely Barry Sonnenfelds's masterpiece. The problem the typical unresponsive or hostile reviewer seems to me to have had with this very popular 1999 film is an inability to make sense of it for what it is: a burlesque of 19th century Southern quasi-fascism in the guise of retro science fiction in a Jules Verne/H.G. Wells mold. (A kind of Right-rearding political correctness similar to that that marred the crtical response to "Brother, Where Art Thou" and scuttled the reputation of the rich and worthwhile "Hurry Sundown" seems at work here.) The film's battle of Black Yankee Will Smith and rebel "salon" dancer-hooker Selma Hyak against a post-bellum alliance of recent Confederate notables, would-be British Imperialist Civil War allies of the Confederacy and proto fascist Prussian militarists is hilarious. The action is better paced, as well as more specatacularly conceived, than that of any other Sonnenfeld film. This is a pop film to evoke the alternative history and retro-science fiction fanatasies of Pynchon's high-art literary masterpieice of late 19th and early 2oth century anarchist....more info
  • Bashful's DVD Summary #012
    Best:

    1) The villian is riotously played by Kenneth Branagh using an over-the-top southern accent. He wants to undo the south's surrender in the U.S. Civil War by taking over all of America and dissolving the union. The way he chooses to do it is simply outrageous.
    2) The 80 foot, coal-powered mechanical tarantula was downright cool to watch and the sound effects made it seem real.
    3) There's a large array of James Bond type gizmos used all throughout the movie (by the good and bad guys alike) that are extremely imaginative.
    4) Parts of the film were absolutely hilarious (like the guy with the horn stuck in his ear) and the humor blended well with the action.
    5) You get to see the butts of both Salma Hayek and Bai Ling (ha).
    6) There's a ton of special features - everything you could want.

    Worst:

    1) As much as I like Will Smith, the choice of him for the lead role of was just - weird. A slick-dressing, gun-slinging, smug-acting black man walking around freely so soon after the ending of slavery was pretty unlikely in that time period (but then, so is an 80 foot mechanical tarantula, I suppose). He did, however, create that really catchy theme song - hmm.

    Recommendation:

    The movie is delightful, the DVD is loaded with special features and the price is right. Get it and watch without any offbeat expectations - it'll grow on you....more info

  • "West, James West"
    I was a fan of the old TV series 'Wild, Wild West' - full of action, adventure, pretty women, weird plots and advanced super-weapons - what more could you want? How about Will Smith and Kevin Kline as James West and Artemus Gordon? How about Salma Hayek in a corset? How about Kenneth Branagh with 20th century weapons? Tanks, trains and airplanes!
    This film is LOTS of fun and full of humor. For example, near the end of the film, The giant spider even blows up half the town of Silverado, which in fact is the set made for the movie "Silverado". So they saved money AND recycled.
    The DVD has lots of extras, from the commentary by the director, to behind-the-scenes documentaries, to the music videos!...more info
  • Lighten up, Francis...
    Judging by the tone of some of these pompous reviews, one would think this flick was being offered as the latest adaptation of one of Bill Shakespeare's works. Geez, c'mon people. It's just what it appeared to be: A bit of summer fluff with buddies, sight-gags, wisecracks and a little cleavage. It wasn't meant to be "true" to the original series. I used to watch WWW religiously as a kid during the Spy Craze of the '60's but, really, would it translate well to today's jaded audiences? Boooorring. No, it was made to appeal to a wide demographic with just enough of the original stuff to tweak the memories of us older geezers and a hip quality thrown in to hook the younger folks. The jokes could have been a little more clever but Smith and Klein delivered adequate performances and Kenneth Branagh's over-the-top interpretation of Loveless was a scream and helped carry the weight. I can't believe people are actually picking apart the possibility of such technology as the Tarantula existing in the late nineteenth century or whether a black man would have the carte blanche that Smith's Jim West had during that time. It was an action-fantasy-comedy for chissake! Helloooo?! Anyway, I found it somewhat disappointing the first time I saw it but I've watched it a couple of times since then and it kind of grows on you. Not a movie I could watch over and over again like Star Wars or The Matrix but the DVD doesn't sink to coffeetable coaster status either. I'd call it moderately amusing and if you're a Smith, Klein or Branagh fan, definitely worth adding to your collection despite what the Rex reed wannabes say....more info
  • It's really not all that bad
    I can remember seeing Wild Wild West opening weekend back in the summe of 1997. I was so excited to see it after hearing the theme song and knowing my boy Will Smith was going to be in it. I thought the moive was kind of stupid, but I really enjoy this moive.

    James West(Smith) is one of the top U.S. Secret Service Agents. President Grant is worried about a man Dr. Arliss Loveless(Branagh). He has been kidnapping different scientists who are the tops of their respective fields. West is teamed with one of the top U.S. marshalls Artemus Gordon(Kline). The two are hot on the trail and find a beautiful woman named Rita(Hayek) who is after Loveless as well because he kidnapped her father. Now are two agents must stop Loveless in time, before he can release his horrible creations upon the U.S.

    Will Smith wasn't really the right choice for James West. The complaint is legit that a black man shouldn't have been this big agent right after slaverly had just ended. It's ridiculous saying segregation took place up to the sixties. However, if you look past that flaw, then Smith really works. He is Will Smith and he has that Will Smith charm. He's a good action star and he excels in the action parts of the movie.

    Kevin Kline is also really good in the movie. I never watched the tv show, so I don't know how these two compare. Kline is good in the role and he runs with it. He's funny as the crafty inventor and he's just Kevin Kline.

    Salma Hayek is gorgeous in the moive. The was the first one I ever saw her in and she had me from the first time I saw her. Her acting isn't all that great in the movie, she's just there to simply look at for an hour and half, and it works.

    The special effects are really good in the film. Once again I wouldn't expect anything less from a moive with Will Smith in it. They aren't the best ones from his movies that he's been in, but they are good. The tarantula looked kind of cool and there is plenty of stuff blowing up in it.

    This was a summer blockbuser movie. The acting is terrible and so is the plot, but it's fun. The acting is fun, the special effects are great and it's a nice escape for two hours. This movie is easy to find cheap so pick it up for a cheap good time....more info

  • bad
    This movie was hyped up so much that it just had to fail. The script was predictable, and even the acting was bad from every actor. I hate that wasted money on this movie. Guess it just shows you to: DON"T BELIEVE THE HYPE!...more info
  • funny
    This is one of those movies that make you laugh and have a good time, of course the plot it's bad, and the situations in the movie are absurd. But you can have a good time with the clowninngs that Will Smith and Kivin Cline make. And Kenneth Brannagh looks impressive with just half body....more info
  • A Stinkfest Nearly Every Way You Look At It
    I'm pretty leery of remakes, especially remakes of films or TV shows that were pretty good the first time around. The television series that serves--barely--as the model for this overbudgeted, underdeveloped redux was one of the best fantasy concepts ever (007 meets "Bonanza"), a showcase for the dynamite team of supercool Robert Conrad and charming Ross Martin. Director Barry Sonnenfeld just doesn't seem to get it. His first mistake was casting one-trick-pony Will Smith in the Conrad role; reimagining James West as a "person of color" was a great idea (Conrad himself had suggested Jackie Chan), but Smith's lackluster presence and incessant mugging for the camera grow tiresome, as usual, after five minutes. Kevin Kline as master-of-disguise Artemus Gordon is more inspired but instead of letting him be a member of an elite team, the script makes him West's cranky rival for too long in the film. It's like watching Archie and Reggie in cowboy hats but without the action and suspense. While his Dr. Loveless lacks the winning combination of pathos and villainy that Michael Dunn brought to the TV role, Kenneth Brannagh, at least, seems to be having fun as the requisite egomaniacal genius. The plot is, by and large, a mess--something about gunrunning, Ulysses S. Grant, and giant, steam-powered spiders; somehow, in two hours, Sonnenfeld manages to convey a story with less flair, delight, and imagination than a single hour of the TV series. Cold and flat computer-generated effects are no match for the simpler but more atmospheric production values of the series and like most recent remakes, the production crew seems to have a shallow understanding of the source material. Even Elmer Bernstein's score is a hollow approximation of the TV series' excellent theme music. ...more info
  • Jab your eyes out!
    Paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa! It's a shame and sad that this movie was made cause it will never have the opportunity to be made right. The TV James West was the perfect wild west secret agent with the gadgets and brawls. Robert Conrad created a wonderful character only to be mocked in this vomitus, stick to the bottom of your shoe movie. Save your money on this and buy some of the real TV episodes. Find "The Night of the Falcon" with Robert Duvall as the foil to James West - perfect example of how this should have been made.

    Just Vin...more info