12 October 2008

Appaloosa

Appaloosa Filled My Need of a Western

Appaloosa is the only western to grace the screen this year in wide release. So, as usual, I got excited and went to see it. As most westerns of late, this was an outlaw story. Apparently, after the 70’s, western can no longer show Indians, or so it seems. This western was a story of friendship. It revolved around History of Violence co-stars Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. They play Law Enforcing duo Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole respectfully. Hitch plays second fiddle to Cole in the towns. They travel from one town to another as required to make towns safe from whatever the problem may be.

The town of Appaloosa had a problem when their last sheriff turned up dead. Randall Bragg kills him in the opening scene and tells his crew that no one saw this. Jeremy Irons puts in great acting as the villainous rancher. The town council tires of Bragg’s men running amok in the town, so, they hire Cole and Hitch to make it safe once again.

Through out the film, we are shown how Hitch and Cole are friends and have been for a while, but keep to themselves. When Allison French shows up in town and takes a liking to Cole, she adds a new layer to the plot. Renee Zellweger is by far the weakest link in the casting of this film.

One of Bragg’s men finally comes forward to Cole and Hitch about the killing of the sheriff. Bragg is convicted and sent to another town for his hanging. On the train ride to the other town, they are stopped by two of Cole’s old acquaintances and blackmailed into giving up Bragg because they have Ms. French. This sends Cole and Hitch on a journey to recover Ms. French and Bragg. Upon catching up to them, we see the real Ms. French. They make it to the next town and a shoot out for Bragg leaves some dead and some injured, but Bragg on the loose.

The end of the film has Bragg return to Appaloosa with a Presidential pardon and loads of money. This causes Ms. French to do her thing again. I am not going to mention it here, but it is an interesting flaw in her character. So, Hitch makes a decision to end this once and for all, for Cole and Ms. French.

The film was great, down to the directing. Ed Harris and Robert Knott adapted Robert B. Parker’s novel. They did a decent job. Most of the story is exactly the same. Ed Harris’ directing was a bit off. Some scenes just went long for no reason. Well, a lot of scenes went on too long. There was just not a lot of directional adventure. It was all fairly bland. Other than that, the film was most enjoyable. Verdict: I would recommend seeing this if you are a fan of the genre. There are not a lot of these films being made anymore, so you have to see them when you can. 3:10 to Yuma was a better film, but this was not bad. I hope that there is another western next year. I am a fan of this forgotten genre.

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