Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: Jim Thomas, John Thomas, S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Starring: Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh
No, Will Smith, let’s not roll, stroll, or bounce into Wild Wild West – one of the most underdeveloped scripts and over-tackified special effects summer blockbusters to hit screens in the late 90’s. Roping in a talented cast that mostly deliver solo performances as a result of poorly written characters that don’t mesh, Wild Wild West gets distracted by its own new-fangled gadgets and CGI effects.
Set in post-civil war America, President Grant partners up a womanizing gunslinger, Jim West (Smith), with US marshall/inventor/cross-dresser, Artemis Gordon (Kline), to uncover what villainous Confederate madman, Arliss Loveless (Branagh) is up to.
There’s not much more to add to the plot, because every other character and additional element of the story is unnecessary. A rather unhelpful damsel in distress, Rita (Selma Hayek), for example, does nothing but distract the two men, make opportunities for bawdy jokes, and add a couple of screams to the action. Jim West’s motivation for tracking down Loveless is also tacked on for sentimental value, but does little when contrasted to his slavery jokes that guilt trip some Southerners into not hanging him. YEE-HA!
There’s plenty of gunfire, explosions, and weak gags such as boob drumming, man-to-man boob squeezing, and just boobs in general. I mean, yay for boobs, but boo to tasteless jokes, badly paired protagonists, and a story as clumsy and ugly as the mechanical monsters that destroy everything onsite, including performances by Kline and Branagh. Will Smith is just Will Smith.