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Jonah Hex (film)

2010 film starring Josh Brolin and based on the DC Comics character.

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A Mere Empty Imprint of Jonah Hex!

  • Jun 19, 2010
Comic Book adaptations are a dime-a-dozen these days that it has become quite difficult for me to get excited or even interested when Hollywood announces another so-called ‘adaptation’. Director Jimmy Hayward’s “Jonah Hex” is the latest adaptation that brings the DC Comics character to life in the big screen. This film adaptation is loosely based on the latest incarnation of the character in the DC Comics Vertigo line that also blends in some elements from the comic series in the 70’s (before its cancellation of the comic in 1985). My exposure to the character has been to the original version and I haven’t exactly followed (read a few issues) the Vertigo versions so this review would be focused more to its entertainment value and execution of the film’s plot.

After the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a scarred drifter who also has an uncanny knack for being able to speak to the dead which has gained him a great reputation as a bounty hunter who can track anyone down. Hex is also a great gunslinger whose life is filled with myth and legend since an experience had left him with one foot in the human world while the other foot is on the land of the dead. Living a hard life full of violence, Hex’s only connection to his remaining humanity is a gun-toting prostitute named Lilah (Megan Fox) who had her share of misfortunes.

Now, Jonah’s past is catching up to him as the man who had scarred and left him for dead has resurfaced. The U.S. Military offers him a pardon for the many warrants on his head, and in exchange he has to hunt down his old nemesis, Quentin Turnbull (John Malcovich), Hex is eager to go after his old enemy. But Turnbull is just as eager to see Jonah dead while he prepares to usher in the destruction of the Union. At least, Hex gets to earn money while settling old scores…life is good.

             Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex in "Jonah Hex."

             Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex in "Jonah Hex."

As I’ve said, most of my experience with the “Hex” character came from my older brother’s comic books in the 70’s so my memory of him is very hazy. From what I remember the film does carry references to the Tatulah Black (2007, Megan Fox’s character) and the links between Jonah Hex and the Turnbull character are quite similar to the original comic’s inception. However, the origins of Hex itself is a departure from the 70’s comic and leans more towards the Vertigo comics versions as he does have the ability to speak to the dead and even has references to zombies in the movie. The film is a Western-Horror serving of the comic book character. However, this is where the film succeeds and also fails, as the source material was insanely dark and this film’s screenplay appears to be a lot flashier than even the 70’s comic series; and the film fails in doing both.

             John Malkovich as Quentin Turnbull in "Jonah Hex."

The film’s opening act has a semi-animated sequence that pays homage to the comic book which I thought were a clever touch as we become privy to Hex’s origins. It appears too “Hollywooded-up” for my tastes. The plot devices in the film are mere staples of characters that we’ve seen many times before in Hollywood. The characterization in the film is very weak and aside from the Hex character they were rather uninteresting. Lilah was definitely inspired by the Talulah Black character who was savagely raped and mutilated by her captors until she was saved by Hex. This time around, Fox plays a character that is a stereotype and feels rather cartoonish. Josh Brolin does make for a good Jonah Hex, although his appearance should be a little…well, uglier. The right eye needed to be a little more ‘bigger’ in a manner of speaking. Much of Hex’s background come in the form of flashbacks or the occasional visions; this I could excuse although it was clearly a way to focus on the film’s stylized storytelling rather than genuine emotions.

Megan Fox as Lilah in "Jonah Hex."  Megan Fox as Lilah and Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex in "Jonah Hex."

To make the viewer ignore the weaknesses of the script, the film plays a very brisk pace to keep the senses busy and gives us as much PG-13 violence it could muster. The film does look very cool and does have a certain mood to it; it did exude that aura of mystery and mysticism that I somewhat liked. There is a lot of gunplay in the film and quite frankly the scenes are decent; but the set ups were very routine. There were nice touches as the film takes us to some bits of nostalgia to the days of the “Iron-Clads” as there were ships that looked inspired by the “Monitor” and the “Virginia”.

I guess the film’s fault would be that it appears rushed to cover as many bases of Hex’s story that it also feels unfocused and rushed. I rather felt that the action scenes were there so that the film can reach its climax, rather than actually being a solid part of the screenplay. The film’s mistake is assuming that anyone who would see the film is a fan and leaves too many things left for the imagination. The brisk pace allows for style but style without discipline is a disaster waiting to happen. The direction could’ve done better if it treated its material not as a comic book but as an actual Western with a mild touch of the supernatural. It felt very cartoonish and didn’t match the darkness that it was supposed to have.

Amid all the mayhem, style and action, "Jonah Hex” makes for a very insignificant comic book adaptation. Not even Brolin and the sexiness of Megan Fox can save the film from mediocrity. It does make a loud bang whose loudness dissipates upon impact. It is a loud, over-stylized exercise of Hollywood capitalizing on the anti-hero that is “Jonah Hex”.

RENTAL [2 Out of 5 Stars]

HYPE Level: The Hype for the film is pretty restrained since Hex isn't as well known a character as Batman. However, there are those who rated this a 5/5 even before it was released. This type of HYPE is to be ignored since it is based on misleading, pretentious fanboyism. Movies always sound good in paper and trailers but it is another thing entirely to see the execution of a film.

But Josh Brolin in a Western and Megan Fox as the female lead may be enough to get male fans in theater seats. I know I did.


2 ½ Stars: A Mere Empty Imprint of Jonah Hex! 2 ½ Stars: A Mere Empty Imprint of Jonah Hex! 2 ½ Stars: A Mere Empty Imprint of Jonah Hex! 2 ½ Stars: A Mere Empty Imprint of Jonah Hex!

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July 03, 2010
Can't say I'm really up for this one... It's rare when even a movie I think will be bad I'm not feeling up for, but Jonah Hex doesn't even look funny bad for me to sit through.  So I'll probably wait until it comes on HBO or something.
July 03, 2010
wise decision, Sean. I kinda wished that I didn't go see this in theaters; I guess the idea of Brolin playing Hex got to me. It was odd that the trailers showed Fox more than Brolin...definitely a bad sign.
June 22, 2010
Very thorough review, woo. Thanks. I am not a comix fan at all, so I hadn't heard of Jonah Hex until the movie trailer started showing on TV. I kind of liked the humor in the trailer ("What happened to your face?" "I cut myself shaving...what's your excuse?"), but I am not one for supernatural stuff, so I wasn't sure this was for me.

You don't go into much detail on the supernatural stuff so I'm not sure how much of it there is in the film--do you feel that the supernatural elements were a MAJOR focus of the film? Thanks again for reviewing this film.

For now, I think I'll see TS3 instead. :)
June 22, 2010
Thanks for the comment, Sheri. That trailer was cool but I knew there was already something off with it when it showed Fox more than it did Brolin. There was some bits of good humor but they were just there to distract and didn't match the supposed mood of the film.

The supernatural stuff was underdeveloped and left behind to focus on the hunt for the villain and Megan Fox. It was disappointing really; it became an almost direct-to-dvd rendition of the comic book. I am about to see TS3 shortly.
June 22, 2010
Exceptional review I am interested in seeing this mainly becuase I am a Josh Brolin fan and a fan of the comic book character Jonah Hex but after the poor reviews I think I might wait to see it.
June 22, 2010
Thanks, Lopez. Just rent it first and I bet the dvd release may come unrated which may make the movie a tad better.
June 21, 2010
Hey man I am out of town right now 2, moving [I hate doing that], Any way excellent review man, I want to see this so bad but now I think I will wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray release. Any way since you are back dropping reviews I will be posting some in your Comm's only, great to read your stuff again WP.
June 22, 2010
good luck with the move, Alex and thank you for all the support!
June 19, 2010
I'm not a fan of Western comics, but the previews for this film never looked too engaging. Thanks for the review, though. I'm going to wait and see this one as a rental.
June 22, 2010
I was worried when I saw Megan Fox getting most of the trailer time than Brolin. I knew this was going to suck, I just wasn't sure just how much it was gonna suck. I should've gone to see TOY STORY 3 instead...(sigh)
June 22, 2010
Well, we need reviews of bad films to help others know what to avoid... ;)

Sucks that you missed out on TS3, which everyone is raving about. Maybe you can check it out another night.
June 22, 2010
I may go a little later for TS3, I did like the first two films but I was never much of a Pixar fan. I think all the success had gone to their heads that most of their movies seem formulaic to me save for Ratatouille, Incredibles, A Bug's Life, Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
You should see HOW TO TRAIN A DRAGON.
June 22, 2010
I loved Ratatouille. That was so much fun. I agree with you about most of Pixar films being formulaic. I need to see "How to Train a Dragon." It's been on my list for a while, which is why I stayed away from your review. But since you are moving me in that direction... ;)
June 19, 2010
I'm sad to say that this doesn't surprise me. I began to worry when the trailers focused more on Megan Fox and not much at all on the Jonah Hex character. I've been waiting for a decent comic book movie western for a while and was hoping this would be it. I guess not. Maybe some day we'll see a Sgt. Blueberry film that will be amazing...
June 19, 2010
Maybe we'll get to see Batlash or Kid Colt soon LOL! Brolin was good but he just couldn't carry the film. Fox is indeed a Fox--but sad to admit it, her presence is distracting. She was a miscast. The problem with comic book movies is the fact that they usually get treated like comics--this is a mistake since the comic doesn't act like a comic.
June 19, 2010
Yeah, plus I would have liked to see the film as it appeared in the '70s and not the re-imagined version. I still have hopes that some day we also might get a film of "Bat Lash" with Bruce Campbell as Bat. Not sure who would direct that though.
June 22, 2010
I think Michael Bay would be happy to take that on LOL!
June 22, 2010
Kill me now.
June 22, 2010
who's worst than Michael Bay? Uwe Boll! LOL!
June 22, 2010
Good point.
More Jonah Hex (2010) reviews
review by . December 20, 2010
I’ve not only grown up reading comic books, but I’ve grown old reading them.  When my peers moved on from reading entirely, I tried to maintain some sense of intimacy with the world of graphic storytelling.  Although I have no one title I follow exclusively, I’ll pick up a graphic novel from almost any line so long as I’m assured by someone – friend, enemy, critic – that it’s worth the time and money, so I tend to always eventually get around to …
review by . May 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****     There are comic books that can bring the medium to the screen as a film, and then there are comic books that can't make a successful entry when it comes to adaptation. You've got "Watchmen". You've got "Spiderman". You've got your failures, your successes, and then you've got entries such as "Jonah Hex"; a comic book film flawed to the point of no return.    I might as well get down to business here. It's not like you'll care much about this …
review by . March 25, 2011
Recently there has been a frenzy over adaptations and last summer was one full of a wide variety ranging from comic, graphic novel, video game and children/young adult lit adaptations.  Jonah Hex  should have been a wild ride through the old west came across like a knock-off designer bag you'd buy from a street merchant on the streets of NY.  There were elements that reminded me of the late 90s film Wild Wild West, which was fun but left many feeling disappointed.  I'm …
review by . August 21, 2010
I went and saw this with my wife on opening night after some anticipation since the previews made it look pretty badass and it had Megan Fox as an old tyme whore. I don't know what the critics who said it was bad were expecting but it's about a disfigured ex Confederate turned bounty hunter who gains the ability to talk to the dead through a near death experience himself mixed with a little Indian magic. He's a crack shot who works for the highest bidder and has a hooker for a sidekick …
review by . November 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
My husband and I watched the Jonah Hex DVD over the weekend and I was bored stiff. My husband didn't even have anything good to say about and he was able to concentrate on eye candy (Megan Fox). It wasn't my cup of tea.
Quick Tip by . April 25, 2010
I hope this flick lives up to the weird classic comics. Brolin's been making one hell of a comeback. It would be a shame if this ruined it.
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About this movie


Another DC Comics hero gets a workout inJonah Hex, the movie incarnation of DC's scar-faced bounty hunter, played here by Josh Brolin. Out to exact revenge on the varmint who wrecked his face and killed his family, Jonah also gets yanked back into the service of his country--against his will, of course. Said varmint, Quentin Turnbull, is played by John Malkovich, although the more spirited villainy is provided by Turnbull's tattooed Irish assistant (Inglourious Basterds's Michael Fassbender plays the part with the kind of energy noticeably absent from the other cast members). In this 80-minute hodgepodge of a movie, Jonah regularly checks in with his lady friend, a prostitute (Megan Fox) whose bordello room has a remarkable amount of glamour lighting, and in his spare time investigates Turnbull's plot to use a super weapon against Washington, D.C. By giving Jonah a halfway-interesting supernatural talent--he can talk with the dead, by placing his hands on them--the film adds a kicky new wrinkle, but it's not enough to improve the mangled storytelling or the sleepwalking pace. Brolin's makeup is impressive, but in scarring his cheek and pulling his mouth back in a grotesque grimace, the prosthetics designers have robbed the actor of any ability to express himself through speech. Kind of a miscalculation there, and typical of this movie's tendency to shoot itself in the face.--Robert Horton
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Genre: Western
Release Date: June 18, 2010
DVD Release Date: October 12, 2010
Runtime: 81 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
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