Monday, May 2, 2011

Appaloosa (2008)

Director: Ed Harris

Starring: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zellwegger, Lance Henriksen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Feelings get you killed.

Plot: When a malicious, land-hungry rancher (Irons) has the marshal and deputy of Appaloosa killed, two gunmen (Mortensen and Harris) blow into town to restore law and order. But the stakes are raised even higher when a beautiful widow (Zellweger) of uncertain convictions enters the picture.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Sure as shootin'.

I came this close to watching DJANGO (1966) last night. I was in the mood for a good western and even though it's been nearly ten years since I saw DJANGO, I thought I'd go with something I hadn't seen so APPALOOSA won out. I'm so glad I did. Don't get me wrong; DJANGO is chock full of awesomeness but good modern westerns are few and far between.

Ed Harris is just a badass of an actor. He's one intense mofo and this one's no exception. The performances all around (almost) are great. The interplay between the two pals played by Mortensen and Harris is fun and you get a good feel that these two are genuine. Irons is always fun and he gets some good face time as a down and dirty bad guy, pissed off bad guy and finally a nice guy with an elegant twist of 'fuck you'. I didn't recognize Lance Henriksen at first. He didn't look as gaunt as usual. Regardless, he's always a hoot.

That leaves Zellweger. She's the only one I felt was miscast. She did a good job I guess; I just wasn't fully sold. The IMDb trivia says that Diane Lane was originally cast. It's a shame she didn't stick as I'm sure her inclusion would've added another half point to my score.

How 'bout that parenthetical smile, huh?

I really like how even the good guys (Mortensen, Harris & Zellweger) have some serious flaws that don't make them so 'good' at times. There's also some real character development. The cinematography is gorgeous. The gun shots are reserved and sound more realistic. I recall the shots in OPEN RANGE (2003) were similar which I really dug. Jeff Beal's score worked. The end credit sequence was really nicely done but the inclusion of a modern song (by Tom Petty) was an offense to my ears. The song was OK but the movie ended on a nice, somewhat quiet note and then BAM! The song starts a few decibels to loud and ruins the moment. It felt like one of those "Not get your ass out of your seat and make room for the next audience" endings. I hate that shit. If the film had ended with a bang, it would have been fine and I wouldn't have mentioned it.

When I saw the trailer when it was about to hit the theater I was turned off by Zellweger. She's barely in the trailer but she just rubbed me raw thinking about it. Then the reviews came out and the general consensus was that it was a good movie but the love story bogged it down. That's what kept me from plunking down my dollars. I was so wrong to do that. I wish I had ignored what others said (including people I knew) and went to the theater. Westerns deserve a better turnout - especially the good ones, which this one certainly is. From now on, unless it stars Justin Bieber or someone of that ilk, I'll hit the theater for every Western that comes down the pike.

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