Not much goes right for Jonah Hex, the 2010 summer blockbuster turned mega-dud. Weighing in at all of 73-minutes when you slice off the end credits, you think this fast-paced tale of revenge would have fared pretty well, guns blazing, hookers hooking, and explosions booming.
Between all of that lies a film that feels chopped up, missing, or destroyed. It is hard to believe this wasn’t tampered with by someone other than the director, Jimmy Hayward, because what’s left is a shell. The movie opens with our story set-up, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) scarred for life mentally and physically by Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), and sets off on his revenge.
Inside that simple narrative is a completely botched romance, Megan Fox’s sure to be Razzie-nominated performance as Lilah, somehow ending up with Jonah even when logic and contrivances say otherwise. You have Will Arnett taking on a serious role as a government official, baffling as casting can possibly be, although in a smattering of scenes like many of these roles.
Jonah has the ability to raise the dead, and see into the dead… or something. He fights with John Malkovich in the afterlife apparently, even though his explanation makes no sense. Hex states that when you are dying, your unfinished business is taken care of, but if Turnbull is still alive, does that accomplish anything? Is there any point to that scene? No, there’s not.
As if Jonah Hex wasn’t bizarre enough, Hex is resurrected by some Indians while the opening of the movie actually replays for the audience (apparently assuming they forgot what happened those long 40-minutes ago). That is painful, but the images of birds escaping from Jonah’s mouth and weird CG smoke take it all to the next level.
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor wrote this script, the guys responsible for Crank and Gamer. You can see their script on screen, with descriptions such as, “Fast edit, cut to indecipherable punch, explosion, back to another punch.” None of the action carries any fluidity, the editing so aggressive not much makes sense, and the same can be attributed to this story. Hex is a mess, thankfully dying a quick theatrical death to save us from an onslaught of sequels as the comic book genre begins to unwind. A few more like this and there won’t be anything left to rewind.
Warner produces a VC-1 encode for Jonah Hex, one that is equal parts rough and superb. Superb is the definition in close, save for Megan Fox who has a random filter applied to smooth her skin, appallingly awful at 1:12:13, while at 17:36 she looks human. That is by no means a fault of this encode though. Close-ups reveal every nuance of every character’s face when their time comes to move in close to the camera, early too as Jonah rides into town at 6:47. Every bit of the well-done make-up is resolved, along with the usual round of pores and hairs.
Panning out, this one takes on that far too familiar “Warner look,” with poor compression evident early at 1:29. Plants are coarse and rough, the limited definition provided by this encode quite shocking at times. Flicker, aliasing, and shimmering are noted, especially after Jonah makes his way into the town after his above-mentioned close-up, while the blueprints 42-minutes in are a source of non-stop aliasing. Malkovich wears a hat at 47:02 that flickers incessantly as he moves around, the encode simply not up to the task of resolving that fine of detail.
Black crush is also abhorrent, wiping out all shadow detail in nearly every frame of the movie. Whether this is intent or not is unknown, but it renders parts of the screen invisible, lost to the ridiculously deep, suffocating blacks. Style choice or not on the cinematographers part to create such a contrast, possible to replicate a comic book-like style, the effect is distracting, worse than the few scenes with Megan Fox’s plastic face. Any grain is certainly lost to this effect, although it it probably important to note it is barely seen at all. It’s either the finest grain stock ever, or the weaker aspects of the encode render it invisible.
Colors are typically warm, giving flesh tones a reddish-hue. Forests and grass lands are overloaded with saturated greens, while a flash back sequence is bathed in red sands and sky. The color schemes are quite specific to the scene, although they never cool down. Explosions, for the brief second they’re on screen, are vibrant and clean.
Bass is certainly what this DTS-HD flavored audio mix excels at, reproducing some wonderfully clean, fluid low-end jolts from the copious amounts of explosions scattered about. Each one is greeted by a generous thump that keeps rolling until the flames die out. A shockwave scatters about the soundfield too, along with hints of debris. The train assault is one of the best on the disc, along with the super-weapon test performed on the small town.
Gunfire is typically tepid, generating mostly a crisp high-end. The horse mini-guns (ugh) fired near the start are enough to spark the audio into a frenzy where it stays considering the pace. Balance is a bit off, the grating score (at least part of it) from metal group Mastadon overwhelming some of the other elements during the finale. It’s too much to bear. That said, the wonderful Western-themed Warner Bros. ditty that opens the film might be the best part of the music (and the movie).
Dialogue is handled well, save for some muddiness as Malkovich talks around 37-minutes in. There is a notable fidelity drop, his lines still perfectly audible, but lacking the clarity of every other line in the movie. It is quick to pass however, everything else tightly wound.
A section of deleted scenes run five minutes, and considering the length of the feature, they might as well have been left in. The Inside Story of Jonah Hex does what you expect, tracking the origins of the comic and moving into how the film came about. It’s a predictable 11-minutes. Weird, Western Tales of Jonah Hex is a pop-up feature, general (although constant) stuff and not as complex as Warner’s usual Maximum Movie Mode. Generic BD-Live access remains.