Jonah Hex (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jimmy Hayward|
|Based on||Jonah Hex
by John Albano and
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$10.9 million|
Jonah Hex is a 2010 American post-Civil War science fiction Western film loosely based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is directed by Jimmy Hayward and stars Josh Brolin as the title character, Jonah Hex, and also stars John Malkovich, Megan Fox, and Michael Fassbender. The film was released on June 18, 2010. It was heavily panned by critics and became a major box office bomb.
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During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) served as a Confederate cavalryman until his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), a general for the Confederates who is obsessed with the fall of the Union, ordered him to burn down a hospital. Hex refused, and was forced to kill his best friend, Turnbull's son Jeb. After the war, a vengeful Turnbull and his right-hand man, Burke (Michael Fassbender), a psychopathic sadist, tie up Hex and force him to watch as his house is burned down with his wife and son inside. Turnbull then brands Hex's face with his initials, "QT", and leaves him to die of thirst or exposure. Days later, American Indians find Jonah and revive him with their mystical powers. While they did manage to bring Jonah back from the dead, it is stated that they couldn't bring "all of him back". As a result, Jonah acquired the ability to, as long as he maintains physical contact with the corpse, temporarily resurrect and communicate with the dead; the corpse physically and mentally brought back to physical condition prior to death (apparently, only Jonah sees them restored like that. To everyone else, they continue to seem decayed and lifeless). It is also explained that the fresher the dead, the quicker that body begins to burn up as they are being touched. Once contact is broken, the corpse instantaneously reverts to its former, lifeless condition. When Turnbull apparently dies in a hotel fire, Hex satisfies his hunger for vengeance by turning to bounty hunting.
In 1876, Hex rides into the town of Stunk Crick with four dead outlaws and demands his bounty, only to realize that the mayor and sheriff have no intention of paying, intending instead to kill Hex for his own bounty. Hex instead kills them and several sheriff's deputies, collects his bounty from the dead mayor's pockets, and leaves. In another part of the country, Turnbull, alive and well, orchestrates the hijacking of a train carrying components of a classified weapon, slaughtering its military guards and civilian passengers alike. When informed of the theft, President Grant (Aidan Quinn) surmises that Turnbull is planning a terrorist attack for July 4, during the celebration of the American centennial. Grant instructs Army Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) to find Hex and hire him to stop Turnbull. Jonah goes to a brothel and spends the night with Lilah (aka Tallulah Black) (Megan Fox), a prostitute attracted to the disfigured man for more than just professional reasons. As Jonah prepares to leave the next morning, Grass' men burst in and tell Jonah that Turnbull is still alive. They show him a captured thug from the train hijacking who told them Turnbull is headed northwest, before dying during interrogation. But Jonah briefly resurrects the man and learns that he has no knowledge of Turnbull's whereabouts; the best he can do is tell who recruited him, ex-Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), who is running an illegal deathmatch pavilion in South Carolina, to the southeast.
With the help of a corrupt Washington aristocrat, Adleman Lusk (Wes Bentley), Turnbull tracks down and steals the remaining components of the weapon he is seeking. When Hex confronts Slocum in South Carolina, Slocum refuses to talk, sarcastically telling Hex to ask Turnbull's dead son, Jeb, where his father is. Jonah says that is a good idea, then overpowers Slocum's men and throws Slocum himself into the ring, to be killed by his own fighters. After setting fire to the ring, he frees a dog being tormented by Slocum's handlers, which starts to follow him around. In a cemetery in Gettysburg, Jonah digs up and resurrects Jeb Turnbull (an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Jonah apologizes for killing Jeb, and says that his father has to be stopped before he murders more people. Jeb reveals that his father is at Fort Resurrection, and then returns to the afterlife.
After entering the fort, Hex sees plans for the "superweapon" that Turnbull has stolen and assembled. In another part of the fort, Turnbull explains to Burke that the weapon was designed by Eli Whitney for the U.S. military, but they refrained from building it after realizing it was simply too powerful to ever consider using. Jonah confronts Turnbull, killing several of his men, but Turnbull escapes and Hex receives a near-fatal wounding from Burke, but is able to escape. He collapses in a field, hovering near death for several days. Turnbull, anticipating that Hex will return, sends Burke to bring him "something Hex loves." Burke kidnaps Lilah from the brothel. Turnbull test-fires the "superweapon" on a small town in Georgia, which is leveled to the ground, killing hundreds of civilians. When President Grant receives the news, his aide reports that they have no idea where in the country Turnbull will strike, and that they do not have enough military manpower to guard every centennial celebration. Hex is found by his Native American allies, who perform a ceremony that heals him. Back on his feet, he relays a message to Lt. Grass that Turnbull plans to attack Washington, D.C., then rides to Independence Harbor alone to stop him.
When Jonah attempts to infiltrate the harbor where Turnbull's ironclad warship is anchored, Burke spots him and attacks him. Hex overpowers and kills him, then uses his powers to bring Burke back from the dead, just so Hex can incinerate his body completely. Jonah prepares to shoot Turnbull but Turnbull holds Lilah at gunpoint and forces Jonah to surrender. Turnbull chains Jonah and Lilah in the hold of his ship and tells Jonah that he wants him to watch as the Union is destroyed. The ship leaves harbor and steams toward Washington, D.C. A monitor commanded by Lt. Grass intercepts Turnbull, but is quickly destroyed with the weapon, which has been mounted on the bow.
In the hold, Lilah picks her handcuffs and frees herself and Jonah. She holds off the guards with two pistols while Jonah rushes up to the deck to stop Turnbull. Turnbull gains the upper hand and orders the weapon to fire. The weapon blankets Washington with a volley of delay-action bomb shells, and Turnbull gives the order for the trigger shell to be launched. But Hex and Turnbull's fight takes them down into the engine room, where Hex throws his tomahawk into the weapon's belt feeder, trapping the trigger shell. He then brutally beats Turnbull and traps his neck in a gear, before saving Lilah. The pair jump into the water just as the trigger shell ignites in the engine room, killing Turnbull and all his men. The next day, President Grant rewards Jonah with a large sum of money, a full pardon, and offers him a job as Sheriff of the entire United States. Jonah declines, but assures the president that if they need him, they'll be able to find him. Lilah is waiting for him outside the White House, and they leave the city together.
In the last scene, Jonah visits Jeb's grave to apologize for having to kill his father, then rides out of the cemetery with his dog.
- Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex: A disfigured bounty hunter and the film's antihero. Brolin initially hated the script, but changed his mind, growing to like its tongue-in-cheek tone.
- John Malkovich as Quentin Turnbull: The main antagonist; the man who killed Jonah Hex's family and disfigured Jonah.
- Megan Fox as Tallulah Black: A gun-wielding prostitute and Hex's love interest, whose real name is Tallulah Black just like in the comics, but goes by Lilah for short and doesn't have scars on her body or a missing left eye like her comics counterpart.
- Michael Shannon as Dr. Cross Williams: The ringleader of a gladiator circus. The studio planned to have Williams in a recurring character if a sequel surfaced.
- Will Arnett as Lieutenant Grass: A Union soldier who enlists Hex as a bounty hunter.
- Michael Fassbender as Burke: A bowler hat-wearing, tattooed, psychopathic Irishman and Turnbull's right-hand man. Fassbender likens his character to that of The Riddler and Malcolm McDowell's performance in A Clockwork Orange, saying he mainly found his character when he tried on the derby bowler.
- Aidan Quinn as Ulysses S. Grant: 18th President of the United States (Quinn was only on set for 3 days for this role).
- Lance Reddick as Smith: An armorer of sorts who supplies Hex with his new weapons.
The film also includes John Gallagher, Jr. as Lieutenant Evan, Tom Wopat as Colonel Slocum, Wes Bentley as Adleman Lusk, and Julia Jones as Cassie; as well as an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Jeb Turnbull. Mastodon guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds also made a small cameo appearance.
Prior to Brolin's casting, actor Thomas Jane petitioned the studio for the role, hiring a make-up artist to give him the appearance of Jonah Hex. Jane voiced Hex in the 2010 animated short DC Showcase: Jonah Hex.
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In 2000, 20th Century Fox developed a one-hour adaptation based on the character to television with producers Akiva Goldsman and Robert Zappia involved, but the project did not make it to production. By July 2007, Warner Bros. Pictures held feature film rights to the character and sought to produce a film. Goldsman paired with Andrew Lazar as producers, and Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor adapted the screenplay, which adopted an incarnation of the comic books that combined the Western genre with supernatural elements. In October 2008, Josh Brolin entered talks to be cast as Jonah Hex under the direction of Neveldine and Taylor. In November 2008, Neveldine and Taylors stepped down from being directors due to creative differences with the studio. The studio explored the possibility of hiring Andy Fickman or McG and by January 2009, it chose Jimmy Hayward to direct Jonah Hex. By the following February, Brolin was set to star alongside John Malkovich, who was cast as the antagonist Quentin Turnbull. Legendary Pictures paired with Warner Bros. Pictures to co-finance the film. Filming began in Louisiana in April 2009.
"Some of it was heavy, some of it was very moody," Sanders said. "A lot of it was spacey, Melvins B-sides, Pink Floyd-like, surreal outer space, like Neil Young's Dead Man. Swirling, nausea music." Sanders added that the collaboration felt natural: "Since day one, we've always written albums thinking the music was the score of a movie. Then we'll create the lyrics or storyline on top of that, as if we're writing the dialog to match the movie's cinematography."
The soundtrack is an hour-long instrumental, including five full songs and numerous smaller musical themes. Selections were added to scenes in the film by composer John Powell (Shrek, The Bourne Identity), and others will be adapted for the London Orchestra for exceptionally epic moments. "We wrote variations on themes for each character, different variables for a bunch of riffs: faster, slower, heavier, lighter," Sanders explained. "It's the Darth Vader approach."
Jonah Hex was released in the United States on June 18, 2010, the same day as the release of Toy Story 3.
Jonah Hex severely failed at the box office, opening at #7 during its debut weekend with only $5,379,365 in 2,825 theaters, averaging $1,904 per theater. On its second weekend the film only managed to gross $1,627,442, falling to #10. The film ended its theatrical run on August 12, 2010, grossing only $10,547,117 in total on a $47 million budget, making it a box office bomb. Due to the film's negative domestic take, it was not widely released internationally, grossing less than $500,000 outside the United States.
The film received largely negative reviews from movie critics. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 12% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 145 reviews, with an average score of 3.5/10. The critical consensus is: "Josh Brolin gives it his best shot, but he can't keep the short, unfocused Jonah Hex from collapsing on the screen."
Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club gave the film a rare "F" rating, stating "the 81 minutes (including credits) of Jonah Hex footage that made it to the screen look like something assembled under a tight deadline, and possibly under the influence." Roger Ebert wrote: "It's based on some DC Comics characters, which may explain the way the plot jumps around. We hear a lot about graphic novels, but this is more of a graphic anthology of strange occult ideas."
The film was named "Worst Picture" of the year by the Houston Film Critics Society at their 2010 awards ceremony. It was given two nominations at the 31st Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst Actress (Megan Fox) and Worst Screen Couple (Josh Brolin's face and Megan Fox's accent).
The film was released in the US via DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, 2010 with no special features. It was released in the UK on December 27, 2010 on DVD, Blu-ray and Double Play. Special features include Deleted Scenes, The Inside Story of Jonah Hex and a Picture-In-Picture Commentary.
- Tonner Doll Company, Inc. released in May 2010 Saloon Lilah as a doll.
- NECA has released an assortment of 3 action figures (Hex, Lilah, and Turnbull), and has plans to release prop replicas from the film.
- WizKids has plans to release a HeroClix Battle Pack consisting of Hex, Lilah, and Turnbull.
- DC Direct has plans to release a Jonah Hex bust, a Lilah bust, and a 1:6 scale Jonah Hex Collector Figure.
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- Seijas, Casey (November 20, 2008). "Josh Brolin Declares ‘Jonah Hex’ Script ‘Awful…I Love It,’ As Directors Leave Project". MTV Splash Page. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- "Jonah Hex Hexed with Reshoots". Dreadcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- Kit, Borys (March 3, 2009). "Megan Fox lines up two film projects". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Kit, Borys (March 31, 2009). "Will Arnett joins 'Jonah Hex'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 8, 2009. (Subscription only)
- "Michael Fassbender Talks Jonah Hex". Screencrave.com. 2009-08-10. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- George 'El Guapo' Roush (2010-06-15). "Interview: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and Jimmy Hayward Talk About Jonah Hex". Latino Review. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- Billington, Alex (June 20, 2008). "So That Truly Was Thomas Jane as Jonah Hex!". FirstShowing.net (First Showing, LLC). Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Laski, Beth (January 20, 2000). "DeVito has a 'Revelation' on crowded Canton slate". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Kit, Borys (July 24, 2007). "Warners puts 'Hex' on comic". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Kit, Borys (January 6, 2009). "'Horton' helmer has 'Hex' next". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Fleming, Michael (October 9, 2008). "Josh Brolin eyes WB's 'Jonah Hex'". Variety. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Fleming, Michael (November 19, 2008). "Neveldine, Taylor leave 'Jonah Hex'". Variety. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Knowles, Harry (2009-09-02). "JONAH HEX news so mind-meltingly awesome that only Satan's Mighty Balls are cooler!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- "Jonah Hex Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-10-05.
- Keith Phipps (June 17, 2010). "Jonah Hex Film Review". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 2010-06-26. Rating F.
- "Jonah Hex. Rogerebert.com". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. June 16, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- Pond, Steve (December 18, 2010). "Detroit, Houston Critics: 'Social Network,' Ho Hum". The Wrap. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
- Laydon, Joe (December 18, 2010). "'Social Network' lauded by Houston crix: Film continues dominance of award season". Variety. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
- "Meet Saloon Lilah, a Jonah Hex Comic-Con Exclusive from Tonner". Dreadcentral.com. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc". www.necaonline.com. 2010-04-23. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "Jonah Hex coming to HeroClix in 2010 : Heroclix.com – Wizkids/NECA, Inc". Heroclix.com. 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "DC Direct". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "DC Direct". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "DC Direct". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2011-01-31.