Jonah Hex (film)
|Directed by||Jimmy Hayward|
|Screenplay by||Neveldine & Taylor|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$11 million|
Jonah Hex is a 2010 American western superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Directed by Jimmy Hayward in his live-action debut, and written by Neveldine/Taylor, the film stars Josh Brolin in the title role, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon and Wes Bentley.
Produced by Legendary Pictures, Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance Productions and Akiva Goldsman's Weed Road Pictures, the film was released on June 18, 2010 by Warner Bros. Pictures and was a major critical and commercial failure, grossing only $11 million against a budget of $47 million.
During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) serves as a Confederate cavalryman until his commanding officer Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) orders him to burn down a hospital. Hex refuses, and is forced to kill his best friend, Turnbull's son Jeb. After the war, Turnbull and his enforcer Burke (Michael Fassbender) force Hex to watch his house burn down with his wife and son inside. Turnbull brands Hex's face with his initials and leaves him to die. Native Americans revive Jonah with mystic powers, giving him the ability to temporarily resurrect the dead. When Turnbull apparently dies in a hotel fire, Hex satisfies his hunger for vengeance as a bounty hunter and sears half his face to remove the brand.
In 1876, Turnbull, having survived, hijacks a train carrying components of an experimental "superweapon," slaughtering guards and passengers. President Grant (Aidan Quinn) surmises that Turnbull is planning a terrorist attack for the American Centennial on the Fourth of July, and instructs Army Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) to hire Hex to stop Turnbull.
Hex spends a night with Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute with ulterior motives. Grass's men arrive and reveal Turnbull is still alive. Hex is brought to one of Turnbull's captured thugs, who dies during interrogation. Hex briefly resurrects the man, who knows only that he was recruited by ex-Confederate Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), the owner of an illegal deathmatch pavilion in South Carolina.
When Hex confronts Slocum in South Carolina, Slocum refuses to talk, sarcastically telling Hex to ask Jeb where his father is. Hex overpowers Slocum's men and throws him into the ring to be killed by his own fighters. Setting fire to the pavilion, Hex frees a dog tormented by Slocum's handlers, and it follows him.
In a Gettysburg cemetery, Hex digs up and resurrects Jeb (an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He apologizes for killing Jeb, telling him his father must be stopped before he murders more people. Before returning to the afterlife, Jeb reveals his father is at Fort Resurrection.
At the fort, Hex confronts Turnbull and kills several of his men, but Turnbull escapes and Hex is critically wounded by Burke. He collapses in a field, hovering near death for several days. Turnbull, anticipating Hex's return, sends Burke to bring him "something Hex loves," and Burke kidnaps Lilah. Turnbull tests the "superweapon" on a small town in Georgia, leveling it to the ground and killing hundreds. Grant realizes authorities have neither any idea where Turnbull will strike, nor the military manpower to guard every centennial celebration.
Hex's Native American allies find him and perform a ceremony that heals him. He relays a message to Lt. Grass that Turnbull plans to attack Washington, D.C., then rides to Independence Harbor alone to stop him. Hex infiltrates the harbor where Turnbull's ironclad warship is anchored, overpowering and killing Burke, then resurrects him just to incinerate his body completely. Turnbull holds Lilah at gunpoint and forces Hex to surrender. With Hex and Lilah captive in the hold of his ship, Turnbull steams toward Washington. A monitor commanded by Lt. Grass intercepts Turnbull, but is quickly destroyed by the superweapon.
Lilah frees herself and Hex, holding off the guards while he races to stop Turnbull. Turnbull gains the upper hand and orders the weapon be fired, but Hex jams its belt feeder, trapping the trigger shell. He brutally beats Turnbull and traps his neck in a gear and then saves Lilah. They jump into the water just as the trigger shell ignites, killing Turnbull and his men. The next day, President Grant gives Hex a large reward and a full pardon, and offers him a job as Sheriff of the entire United States. Hex declines, but assures the president they can find him if they need him; he leaves the city with Lilah. The film ends with Hex visiting Jeb's grave to apologize for his father's death before riding off.
- Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex: A disfigured bounty hunter who is the film's antihero protagonist. Brolin initially hated the script, but changed his mind after growing to like its tongue-in-cheek tone.
- John Malkovich as Quentin Turnbull: The main antagonist who murdered Jonah Hex's family and disfigured the former.
- Megan Fox as Lilah Black: A gun-wielding prostitute and Jonah'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 unlike her comics counterpart.
- Michael Fassbender as Burke: A bowler hat-wearing, tattooed and psychopathic Irishman who is 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.
- Will Arnett as Lieutenant Grass: A Union soldier who enlists Hex as a bounty hunter.
- 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.
- Wes Bentley as Adleman Lusk: A corrupt politician.
- Aidan Quinn as Ulysses S. Grant: The 18th President of the United States (Quinn was on set for only 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, 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 by hiring a makeup artist to give him the appearance of Jonah Hex. Jane instead voiced Hex in the 2010 animated short DC Showcase: Jonah Hex.
In 2000, 20th Century Fox developed a one-hour television adaptation based on the character, with producers Akiva Goldsman and Robert Zappia involved, but the project never came to fruition. In July 2007, Warner Bros. held the film rights to the character and sought to make a film. Goldsman paired with Andrew Lazar as producers, and Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor wrote the screenplay, which adapted 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 (who previously directed Horton Hears a Who!) to direct Jonah Hex. By the following February, Brolin was set to star alongside John Malkovich, who was cast as the antagonist Quentin Turnbull. 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."
- 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 prop replicas from the film.
- WizKids has released a HeroClix Battle Pack consisting of Hex, Lilah, and Turnbull.
- DC Direct has released a Jonah Hex bust, a Lilah bust, and a 1:6 scale Jonah Hex Collector Figure.
The film was released on both DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, 2010 with no special features. It was then released in the United Kingdom 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.
Jonah Hex severely failed at the box office, opening at No. 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 No. 10. The film ended its theatrical run on August 12, 2010, having grossed only $10,547,117 in total on a $47 million budget. Due to its negative domestic take, the film was not widely released internationally, grossing less than $500,000 outside the United States.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 12% based on 150 reviews and an average rating of 3.47/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Josh Brolin gives it his best shot, but he can't keep the short, unfocused Jonah Hex from collapsing on the screen." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 33 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
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 gave the film a negative review, saying that the film "is 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).
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