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(1999) (Will Smith, Kevin Kline) (PG-13)

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Action/Adventure: Two secret government agents try to stop a madman and his plot to overthrow the government in the post-Civil War old West. Based on the original TV show.
Captain James West (WILL SMITH) is an impulsive gunslinger who's hot on the trail of General "Bloodbath" McGrath (TED LEVINE), a corrupt officer responsible for various Civil War era atrocities. His trail leads him into contact with U.S. Marshal Artemus Gordon (KEVIN KLINE), a master of disguises and inventions who's also after McGrath. Unfortunately their methods of dealing with villains clash and McGrath gets away.

After President Grant assigns the two to work together, however, West and Gordon set out on the latter's gadget-equipped train, The Wanderer. Helmed by crusty conductor, Coleman (M. EMMET WALSH), the train delivers them to New Orleans.

There they run into the diabolical genius, Dr. Arliss Loveless (KENNETH BRANAGH), a Confederate veteran who's missing the lower half of his body and is understandably mad at everyone responsible for the South losing the war. They also meet the lovely Rita Escobar (SALMA HAYEK), a beautiful but mysterious entertainer who tells the two agents she's searching for her father, one of many noted scientists who are now missing from across the country.

After several more perilous encounters, West and Gordon head back to the old West. There, they must not only deal with McGrath and Loveless, but also the latter's quartet of deadly vixens, Miss East (BAI LING), Amazonia (FREDERIQUE VAN DER WAL), Munitia (MUSETTA VANDER) and Miss Lippenreider (SOFIA ENG), as well as his eighty-foot tall, weapon-laden mechanical transport vehicle dubbed "The Tarantula," that he plans to use in a war against the government.

With Will Smith's incredible track record of opening movies over the July 4th weekend ("Independence Day," "Men In Black"), it's a good bet many kids will want to see this one as well.
For action violence, sex references and innuendo.
  • WILL SMITH plays an impulsive gunslinger who's equally at ease with the ladies as he is dispatching the villains with his six-shooter or fists. As such, he ends up fighting and/or killing many of the bad guys who attack him when not cussing a bit or cracking handicapped related jokes at the legless villain.
  • KEVIN KLINE plays his reluctant partner, a master of disguises and useful gadgets who becomes smitten with Rita.
  • SALMA HAYEK plays that buxom entertainer who doesn't get much to do other than show her ample cleavage or part of her rear end.
  • KENNETH BRANAGH plays the diabolical genius whose war wounds have left him without the lower part of his body. As such, he zips around in his motorized wheelchair or other mechanical contraptions as he plots to overthrow the government.
  • TED LEVINE plays a former Confederate general known for killing many people as well as his lusty penchant for women.


    OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
    When "The Wild Wild West debuted on a Friday night more than three decades ago on CBS, few realized what a big hit it would become or the legions of fans who would keep the show on the air until 1970 and for many years after that via syndicated reruns. A fun and highly inventive combination of the popular westerns of the day and the spy elements from the similarly popular James Bond films that had just arrived a few years earlier, the show still rates as one of the "coolest" ever to grace the airwaves.

    With entertaining performances from Robert Conrad as the "I dare you to knock this battery from my shoulder" Jim West (you have to be at least in your thirties to understand that) and Ross Martin as his comedic sidekick, Artemus Gordon, the show was a fun diversion and made an indelible impression on a generation of young viewers such as myself.

    Unfortunately, shows like that can't be left alone to bask in their former glory. Instead, and in the tradition of the big screen adaptions of various TV shows such as "The Brady Bunch," "The Mod Squad," "The Addams Family" and even another western, "Maverick," it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone that this longtime favorite has now been similarly mined.

    With a great deal of hope and even more money -- reportedly around $115 million -- riding on the production, the question is whether Will Smith, Kevin Kline and director Barry Sonnenfeld can recapture the magic and fun of the original series.

    Well, despite the fact that Sonnenfeld successfully adapted "The Addams Family" and helmed other fun films such as "Men in Black" and "Get Shorty," this is a bloated, big budget dud. All looks and little substance, the film is visually appealing -- what with all the elaborate production design, costly special effects and fun costumes -- but clearly shows that the same detail was not applied to its story.

    Whenever a film's writing credits include a relatively large team -- in this case, screenwriters S.S. Wilson & Brent Maddock ("Tremors," "Short Circuit") and Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" "Doc Hollywood") who work from a story by Jim & John Thomas ("Executive Decision," "Predator") -- you can almost positively assume that it was a troubled production and that the end result will be less than satisfactory, much less satisfying.

    Whether the film suffers from the "too many cooks in the kitchen" scenario, or simply fell under the old and misguided belief that a big director, stars and an enormous budget alone can spell success, for the most part this one is a boring mess. Apparently, no one involved learned anything from watching 1997's similarly overblown dud, "Batman and Robin."

    Thus, one may question where the blame should fall. In short, pretty much all across the board. Obviously the story -- or lack thereof -- is a good starting point. Although it follows the basic outline from most of the original show's episodes -- the two agents track down a villain and use their fists and gadgets to defeat him -- the film's expanded plot is listless, uninvolved, and lacks the fun spark one expects from a presumed summer blockbuster.

    Instead of creating an interesting premise, villain and overall story, the screenwriter sextet makes the same mistake another big budget film did earlier this summer. Working under the nearly always incorrect assumption that bigger is better, the film may appear to have more razzle dazzle, but in doing so, jettisons a decent or interesting story.

    As such, the filmmakers put too much reliance on the special effects to carry the picture. Case in point is the gargantuan, fireball spewing, mechanical tarantula. While the film's smaller gadgets are fun and somewhat believably appropriate for the time period, the big spider is nothing but a clear case of overkill. Not only is it completely unbelievable and incongruous with the setting, but it's nothing more than effects for effect's sakes and simply serves as filler in place of story.

    That visual effect and many others may look impressive, but they clearly don't belong in this film. The same holds true for other means of included transportation -- such as a tank as well as a flying machine that predates the Wright Brothers by many decades -- and a series of jokes or comments that are obviously aimed at contemporary audiences. While some may laugh at West saying "No more Mr. Knife Guy" (instead of "nice guy") after dispatching a knife-wielding villain or Artemis saying he'll call his airplane "Air Gordon," such moments aren't right for this film.

    Nor is Will Smith, or at least the way he in which he plays his character. While I've enjoyed most everything in which Smith ("Enemy of the State," "Men in Black") has starred, his often contemporary mannerisms clash with the film's period setting and he often looks and acts like he's lost amongst the proceedings. That said, his mere presence does at least makes the film easier to watch, but I only wished he played the character a bit more like Robert Conrad (yes, still the only Jim West) did in the original show.

    Kevin Kline ("In & Out," "Dave"), on the other hand, does a fairly decent job playing Artemis Gordon and kudos should go to the casting director for the inspired choice. Although he's occasionally given some similarly stupid lines and actions to perform, for the most part he delivers a good take on the character.

    As the disabled, but crazed villain, Kenneth Branagh ("Celebrity," "The Theory of Flight") obviously chose the scenery chewing/mustache twirling approach for playing his character. While he looks and acts far different from how most are accustomed to seeing him (usually in more refined, Shakespearean-type roles), he suffers from a severe case of character underdevelopment (and the entire legless bit achieved by special effects is far too reminiscent of Gary Sinise's character in "Forrest Gump").

    The same absence of development holds true for Salma Hayek ("54," "Fools Rush In") who's only apparent requirement for appearing in the film was to flash her pretty lashes and show as much cleavage as possible along with a double glimpse of part of her bare derriere. Bringing up the rear (some pun intended) is Ted Levine ("Flubber," "The Silence of the Lambs") as the crusty old war veteran in a role and performance that are both instantly forgettable.

    The pretty much sums of the film. Without a decent story, much chemistry between any of the leads -- in particular, regarding West and Gordon who are placed in the old "cop partners who don't get along" setup -- and some moments that land completely dead in the water, the film wastes its talented cast, crew and the potential for what could have been a fun, albeit unnecessary remake.

    Overall, it simply has the look and feel of a bloated, big budget production where everyone was afraid to point out just how silly, stupid or outright bad some of the scenes -- particularly as the film draws to a close -- actually were. Although it's not completely horrendous to sit through and clearly isn't as bad as last year's overstuffed bomb, "The Avengers," this film could and should have been much better. As such, we give "Wild Wild West" just a 3.5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief look at the content found in this PG-13 rated, big screen version of the original TV show, "The Wild Wild West." Violence, while rarely bloody or graphic (although a severed head is briefly seen in a scientific-like setting), rates as an extreme due to many deaths and fights that occur throughout the film. There's also a great deal of gun usage throughout the film (it is a Western). Some of those action/fight scenes could also be scary or unsettling to the youngest of viewers.

    Sexual innuendo and related comments are present, as are many scantily clad women, and some brief nudity (along with tons of cleavage) also occurs. The villains obviously have bad attitudes, but some racial/handicapped insults are also exchanged between a black character and one who's missing the lower half of his body.

    Beyond some instances of smoking and drinking, however, the remaining categories don't have much in the way of major objectionable content. Nonetheless, and considering that many kids will want to see this film, you may want to take a closer look at the listed material should you still be concerned about its appropriateness for anyone in your home.

  • People have drinks in a bar.
  • Gordon, dressed as the President, has a drink and offers one to West, but he doesn't get a chance to have one.
  • Gordon has a drink.
  • People have drinks at a costume party.
  • Trying to appease some men ready to hang him, West tells them they should go back into the house "and kick back some 'shine" (moonshine).
  • We see what appears to be wine with a meal that Gordon has prepared.
  • Rita, Loveless and his female assistants have drinks.
  • McGrath, who had a small metal horn in his ear as a hearing aid, clears his throat and we then see the results drain from the horn (from his ear).
  • We see a severed head (that's not bloody or gory beyond being a severed head) that Gordon has propped into a contraption (that then shines light through that head and out its eyes like a slide projector).
  • We see dead bodies on a floor and in a field, but beyond being dead, they aren't particularly gory or bloody.
  • After McGrath has been shot, we see that the bottom half of his shirt is blood-soaked.
  • We see West eating what looks like a charred lizard on a stick at a campsite.
  • Obviously Loveless and his assistants have both as they're responsible for many people's deaths, the kidnaping of several scientists, and their wish to overthrow the government (all in a cartoon- like, villainous way).
  • Some viewers may take offense at the repeated barbs between West and Loveless that are either racially based (aimed by Loveless, who's white, to West, who's black) or make fun of a particular physical disability (West delivers many jokes about Loveless' lack of legs, etc...). For instance, Loveless states that it's nice for West to add some "color" to their monochromatic (ie. all white) party. He also adds that he hasn't seen someone in a "'coon's age," and doesn't want West to be a "slave to your disappointment." West then makes some jokes about cutting the legs out from under Loveless and only being half a man. Later, West tells Loveless that when it comes right down to it, "you can't beat a good old-fashioned pair of legs." Loveless then comments that although West "is as black as the night" on the inside he's yellow (a coward), and then calls him "boy."
  • A white man nearly calls West a "nigger," but only gets halfway through saying the word. At a later costume party, a man sees West and calls him "boy."
  • West comments on learning a fighting move "from a Chinaman."
  • Many of the action scenes and/or scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers, especially if they're young kids.
  • In a somewhat initially disorienting scene, a man with a strange, oversized collar frantically runs through the woods from a large spinning blade. It eventually catches and strikes him in the neck, decapitating him, but we only hear the impact.
  • On a runaway horse-drawn wagon carrying nitroglycerine, West must move up between the horses to stop them as they approach a small cliff.
  • For those who don't like big spiders, there are a few scenes where tarantulas are seen or crawl across people.
  • Wearing collars that magnetically draw two large and lethally spinning blades toward them, West and Gordon try to avoid being hit by those blades.
  • The sight of the huge, eighty-foot tall mechanical tarantula may be scary to some young kids.
  • West finds himself precariously hanging from a high cliff.
  • Six-shooters/Rifles/Knives/Explosives/Tank/Large spinning blades/Giant mechanical tarantula: Used to threaten, wound or kill people and destroy property. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Whore," "Boobies," "Butt ugly," "Idiot," "Bastard" and "Half ass."
  • Some kids may want to imitate West's proficient and continuous use of guns or fists to resolve matters (a common stereotypical way for movie "gunslingers" of the old West to act).
  • Both West and Gordon dress up in drag (like ladies) to disguise themselves from the villains.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of action-oriented suspense music plays during the film.
  • The title song played during the closing credits contains what sounded like a line about the singer's way with a woman's dress.
  • At least 4 "s" words, 11 damns, 7 hells, 6 asses, 2 slang terms for breasts ("boobies") and 1 use each of "My God" and "Good Lord" as exclamations.
  • We see West and a woman "swimming" together in a water tower. Both are nude, although all that can be seen are the tops of the woman's breasts as they float in the water. The characters, however, do some brief, but passionate kissing. When she plugs a hole to prevent him from looking at what's occurring below them, he says, "You can't just ram a man's personal things into a hole like that." She then says "Is that so?" and West then realizes the sexual implications of what he just said. Moments later, when a carriage bumps the tower's supports, the aroused woman says, "Oh, Jim," but he states that he wished he could take credit for that movement. The tower then eventually falls over and West falls from it. We then see an ever-so-brief glimpse of part of his bare butt as he stands up (seemingly straddling the camera with his legs on either side of the picture) and of him covering his crotch with just his hat.
  • Both Rita and Loveless' female assistants show lots -- and we mean lots -- of cleavage in the outfits they wear throughout the movie, some of which are high-cut corsets.
  • A painting behind a bartender show a naked lady (bare breasts). Another later seen picture also shows nude women.
  • McGrath states that he wants a woman for the night (while in a bar/brothel) and makes a few suggestive comments, such as wanting "something young and creamy." We then see him walking along checking out the available women, but Gordon (dressed as a woman) makes herself available to him. As they open doors trying to find an empty room, a comment is made about "that's a new one" and we hear the sound of a farm animal inside (presumably with a person).
  • Later, when West "rescues" Gordon and thinks he's a woman, he says, "A big sturdy gal like you probably gets top dollar." We later see some real hookers in their night clothing.
  • Gordon shows West the fake breasts he uses in his feminine disguise. When West says they "look like sh*t," Gordon says, "Touch my breasts." As West reluctantly does so, their conductor sees this and says about them, "I knew it." West then empties one of them and fills it with water and tells Gordon to feel it, stating, "That's what a breast is supposed to feel like. Now touch yourself."
  • Rita walks in complaining that she applied for "a standing up position" (sexual implications of what others want her to do).
  • Loveless, who's missing everything below the waist, comments on not having his "reproductive organs."
  • Miss East walks in and drops part of her outfit, revealing lots of cleavage and then suggestively running her hands across her breasts and then French kisses West. As she lifts up some of her outfit to sit down, we get a close-up view of most of her bare butt (she's wearing a thong-like bottom). She also makes a suggestive comment about "poking" involving him.
  • Thinking a real woman is actually Gordon dressed in drag, West comments on her "boobies" and then touches them saying they look "perky" and then slaps them.
  • Gordon discovers all sorts of S&M-looking items in Loveless' room (handcuffs and chains above the bed, etc...).
  • West explains that he and Rita eventually would have "gotten into the saddle" (bed) had they brought her along on their train. Gordon then describes Rita and comments on "the curvature of her buttocks...magnificent bosom...so full, so sumptuous..."
  • We twice see the top half of Rita's bare butt as she wears some of West's long johns that have a flap at the rear end that is currently hanging open. She seemingly knows this and tells West and Gordon to have sweet dreams as she turns and walks away from them giving them another view.
  • As one of his scantily clad women states that she has "them" (West and Gordon) squarely in her sight, Loveless states he has the same (while staring at her buttocks).
  • After commenting that West is probably well-endowed, Loveless (who's missing the lower half of his body) asks if they wondered whether he could make something mechanical that's "hard pumping" to please a woman (we then see an enormous mechanical contraption that has a pulsating protuberance on the front of it).
  • Wearing large magnetic collars attracted to anything metallic, West suddenly finds himself pulled to Gordon's belt and we then see his face stuck right at Gordon's crotch (played for laughs).
  • Loveless smokes several times, while Gordon twice smokes a cigar while dressed like the President (who also smokes). West holds a cigar, while various miscellaneous or background characters also smoke.
  • Rita states that she's searching for her missing father and is worried about him (although we later learn this not to be true -- although it is about another family member).
  • West briefly mentions having lost his parents at a massacre.
  • The way women are depicted in the film (as buxom and scantily clad hookers, villains or a barely developed sidekick character who's used to show her cleavage and part of her bare butt to entice the two male agents).
  • The racial and handicapped humor used as barbs between two characters.
  • How this movie compares to the original TV show.
  • What life was really like in the old West.
  • The Civil War.
  • A large, flying and spinning blade decapitates a man (we only hear the impact).
  • West fights with three men by punching them.
  • A fake fist comes out from Gordon's dress (while disguised as a woman) and knocks a man out.
  • West fights with more men and a water tower falls on several more carrying rifles.
  • When a bystander asks what kind of lady Gordon is, McGrath whips out his pistol and shoots that man in the gut (no blood and no impact seen).
  • We see some men briefly struggling with a person inside a large bag.
  • McGrath pulls a knife on Gordon, but West swings through the window and punches the general. McGrath then drives West through the wall of one room and into the adjoining one. West then fights with many of McGrath's men (after a hooker briefly aims a gun at him) with many punches being delivered.
  • A wagon full of nitroglycerine crashes into a bar and explodes.
  • West walks into the White House wearing his guns and briefly and somewhat playfully but defiantly aims them at some staff when they ask him to remove them. Moments later, he shoots through the ceiling and aims his gun at the President, knowing it's not really him.
  • West punches Gordon, and a large mallet then strikes West.
  • West punches a man who called him "boy."
  • West spins around a woman who gets shot in the back by her assailant accomplice. He then shoots that man and then fires several shots throughout the room. As he leaves, we see many bodies then lying across the floor.
  • A woman slaps West after he touches her breasts (when he thinks she's really Gordon in drag). Various men then hold guns on West and take him outside to hang him (which doesn't occur).
  • A tank-like machine opens fire on McGrath's men with bullets and explosives, killing many (but in a non-graphic fashion).
  • McGrath threatens to shoot Loveless who then pushes a button that fires a weapon that shoots the general.
  • Loveless' train fires upon West and Gordon's train and an explosion goes off nearby them.
  • A man wraps something around West's neck and tries to strangle him atop a moving train. West, remembering he has a blade in the front of his boot, uses it to stab the man in the chest after elbowing him several times.
  • The huge mechanical tarantula fires fireball-like explosives at rock formations, a train and many buildings in a town (and an empty carriage), destroying all of them.
  • West is shot in the chest and falls from the huge tarantula (but is okay due to a bulletproof mesh vest he's wearing).
  • A person nearly shoots Gordon, but stops when interrupted.
  • Flames fire from West's fake breasts as he's dressed in drag. Guards then come out shooting and West rolls an explosive toward them that then detonates.
  • West and Gordon drop bombs onto the back of the mechanical tarantula. In return, one of Loveless' women shoots a machine gun back at them. Later, a woman falls from the eighty-foot high machine, presumably to her death.
  • A man with swords for arms fights with West, who then fights with others with his fists as well as a shovel (this goes on for a minute or so). During this, a man falls from the machine to his presumed death. A person then seemingly made of metal comes after West who repeatedly hits this man with a shovel, but to no avail. The man, however, eventually also falls from the machine (after punching West in the chest).
  • West and Loveless then fight, with the former kicking the latter backwards and the latter then tries to squash West (with his suddenly revealed, four mechanical legs). Meanwhile a woman punches Gordon several times and he then fires a shot at Loveless.
  • A man falls to his presumed death.

  • Reviewed June 28, 1999 / Posted June 30, 1999

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