Directed by Ed Harris.
Written by Ed Harris and Robert Knott. Based on the novel
by Robert Parker.
Starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger and Jeremy
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 10/7/08
I was very, very excited to see "Appaloosa"
as I am a big Ed Harris fan, although thinking about that statement,
I almost can't believe that there are those out there who are NOT
big Ed Harris fans.
As a nightcap for our fantastic voyage to
New Mexico this week, Meg and I snuck in a late show of this
western, and both of us were disappointed with the result.
Harris co-wrote and directed "Appaloosa", and the film follows two
hired guns named Cole (Harris) and Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) as they
arrive in New Mexico in 1882 to help a small town called Appaloosa
dig out from the oppression of a vigilante named Bragg (Jeremy
Irons, channeling a somewhat, sorta, kinda evil). Soon after
establishing marshall law in the town, in comes a widowed woman
named Ally French (Renée Zellweger), who quickly takes a liking to
Cole, which summarily ends the "western" portion of the film.
The handling of the relationship between
Cole and French is occasionally interesting, but overall, it kills
the film's early momentum and makes the initial hunt of Bragg by
Cole & Hitch a bit of a sideshow...even later, once we get back on
the trail of the movie's main plot, I think Meg and I both lost
interest quickly. And, I'll admit--I like my westerns to have
a couple of big-budget shootouts, and we don't get that here.
That's a testament to the new-school direction of Harris, who
doesn't get caught up in too many Old West clichés (no shots of
horses galloping into the sunset, or saloon doors swinging open, or
shots of whiskey being flung down a wet bar top to a guy named
Cookie) but leaves out the ones that I always loved...and why
"Appaloosa" will sit safely behind films like "Tombstone" or "The
Wild Bunch" because I like watching men spit tobacco while spurs
clang in the background as dirty bad guys saunter down deserted
The other big problem I had with
"Appaloosa"? All of the performances are so incredibly bland!
Mortensen? Bland. (You'll try to forget that just last
year at this time, Mortensen was so brilliant as the understated
"Eastern Promises.") Harris? Bland. Irons?
Bland. Meg even thought this movie was rated PG-13, since the
minimal violence here is so un-bloody. The soundtrack is below
spec as well, although you should stick around through the end
credits to hear Harris himself sing a song about whoring. No,
I'm not kidding!!!
Eh. That's the one thing I kept saying
on the way out the door after our showing; "Appaloosa" is okay, but
far below my expectations given my man Harris.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard