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CursedFerret

Has Hollywood Forgotten how to Make a Western?

Did Hollywood Forget how to Make an Action Western?

I sit in my favorite local cafe, writing my normal writings, listening to my normal radio morning show and music, over hearing the old ladies in the room have their weekly meeting of discussing the latest scandals and tragedies in the world of racism, murder, sex, religion, and politics along with every other thing one should not discuss in gatherings all while sipping coffee, slurping soups, and nibbling on chips. Through all of this, even with my own writing, one question keeps popping into my head. A question that has been plaguing me since Monday afternoon.

Why did ‘The Lone Ranger' suck so bad?

Being a huge fan of movies, and having a general understanding of what makes a movie good and entertaining along with knowing what it is that ruins them while still breaking box office records, I can answer that question easily with a long list of things that was possibly wrong with 'The Lone Ranger' film. However, that is not my biggest concern. I know why the film sucked and why it is becoming the latest of major bombs from Walt Disney, but unlike 'John Carter' this one does deserve it for the most part.

If I know why it was bad and why it is bombing at the box office, then why am I still asking the question? Because I have realized I am not just thinking of just this one movie. I am thinking of every western I have seen come out in theaters in the last decade. Particularly the ones that are supposed to be action filled shoot'em ups. The ones that are to follow tough cowboys and lawmen as the hunt down bad ass desperadoes who deserve to be brought to the courts to be hung, or be shot while attempting to apprehend them. Films of thrilling chases involving trains, horses and covered wagons. The westerns involving the conflicts of frontiersman and native Americans as stone and steel clash over the land. Westerns that once ruled the country with actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

With Clint Eastwood mentioned, I will acknowledge that there are still some good western themed movies being made. However, these good westerns like ‘Unforgiven‘, ‘Open Range‘, and ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ are more dramas and biographies than they are a true action film. Dramatic portrayals of men living and surviving in a land that is still in the middle of being tamed and civilized with just one or two real good gun fights, if any at all.

The last westerns I can recall being more action filled and still be good and entertaining are ‘Tombstone’ and ‘Young Guns‘. Both films are highly fantasized portrayals of famous historical figures of the old west. Where are these kind of movies now? Yes, they both were silly and even a bit campy deep down, but at least they did not have main characters talking to ghosts or wearing black and white face paint like a Juggalo the entire movie.

‘The Lone Ranger’ could of, and should have, been an excellent action romp, full of thrilling horseback chases, shoot outs, damsels, Injuns, and whiskey. Instead we got a sober Jack Sparrow with a crow on his head and still having more character depth and screen time than the titular character.  

‘Jonah Hex’ also should have been a great action western, already having fantastic stories written for him from DC comics. None the less, since it is DC property, Warner Brothers had no clue of how to adapt this more obscure comic book title into a live action movie. The result was a bigger mess than ‘The Lone Ranger‘, but thankfully was a lot shorter. It was an insult to the people who worked on the original comic and created such a fascinating anti-hero. Only thing I agreed with in that film was the casting of Josh Brolin in the role of Hex. Why is it that they can make great animated shorts and cartoons of these characters yet do so poorly for the majority of the DC heroes in live action? Alas, that’s an article all its own.

So what is it that Hollywood has forgotten about of their past in making what used to be their bread and butter? Like horror films today, westerns used to be cheap to make and guarantee a profit. I do understand that westerns are not “the in thing” for the general movie going public, but I also don't think this is the main problem.

The one main thing I will address is that the movies have too much in them that do not need to be there. The producers and CEOs force things into movies that should not be there. The writers put in things that do not need to be there. The director adds things that do not need to be there. This is a problem for most movies.

There was numerous things in ‘The Lone Ranger’ that should never been included, like the poor and dumb excuse for the silver bullet that never even got used for it dumb purpose, the Red's Dancers, the bad placement of the William Tell overture throughout the climatic action, and the whole “nature out of balance” thing.(seriously, what the heck was with those rabbits?)

‘Jonah Hex’ suffered worse in the fact that they not only added things that did not belong, but the additional features changed the entire being of the original stories and characters. In the comics, Hex was just a bounty hunter with a tragic past in the old west, feared for his skills with the gun, his fists, and his ability to track down those wanted by the law. He did not talk to the deceased and torture their souls to get information out of them, the comics(least the ones I read) did not have steam punk weaponry, and they did not have Megan Fox.

This problem also adds to the budget needed to make these films. With all the added, un-needed material, it drives the costs higher and higher. Sure, high budget normally means better special effects and more eye candy, but is that what we really want in a western? If they left out the whole ghost talk thing in Hex, there would have been no need for about half of the computer effects in the film. The same thing with 'The Lone Ranger'. A Lot of the sets, costumes, actor costs, and props could have been dismissed and never made and used(and destroyed) if some simple things had been cut out of the script.

Maybe this really is the problem after all. Executives today are now going by the numbers. They are seeing what they think the audience wants, but never realize that those things us movie goers want does not belong in a film about cowboys in the 1800s. Why would we want these things in a movie that are going to be in the movie in the next auditorium, and be used in a more appropriate manner. An action film over all should be simple, fun, and thrilling without having to play dumb or be insulting to the viewers. This most of all goes with an action western movie where the general themes dwell on rescues, vengeance, or just simply a good guy in white hunting the bounty on a bad man in black. Maybe a hero with a unique look and style, like wears a mask and uses silver bullets. Maybe have a wise but fun companion to assist him, and have a musical cue for whenever an exciting chase ensues, and then lead into a thrilling ballad that goes with the action on screen.

How can something like that go wrong.
Viewed: 46 times
Added: 5 years, 4 months ago
 
mchollis89
5 years, 4 months ago
What they should do, for recreations anyway, is get a panel of fans of the source material- provided the creators are still alive; if they are, bring them in and LISTEN to them. From what I can tell, simply following the source material could lower the budget and make the profit more likely- provided that they are simple premises.
Hippiemouse
5 years, 4 months ago
XD holloywood has forgotten how to make movies...not just westerns...why do you think they are producing so many remakes...many script writers have forgotten how to have an original idea and have gotten lazy...they just rehash an old idea and call it their own vision
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
I am very well aware of all of this. The title and subject is pretty much the basis for the real problem at had and even point it out a few times that it is more than just westerns
chimangetsu
5 years, 4 months ago
I think it has more to do with public Zeitgeist. The west was fresh in the minds of backward looking boomers as reaction to earlier parts of WWII (stories of heroism in difficult odds by the stalwart American) much like how the pulp science fiction genre that superceded the western dealt with WWII's aftermath (the use of atomic weapons, rapidly advancing technology, the Cold War and related space race--much of it not dissimilar to the intellectual backlash to technological advances during the Victorian period).

Westerns until the 60's onwards also were exceedingly jingoistic, and by the time the Korean and Vietnam War, that approach soured in the mouths of many. Paths of Glory in the late 50's was a surprising piece of cinema for the stance it placed on war and its supposed heroism, with Doctor Strangelove in the 60's backhanding everyone in the room. Then the late 70's brought us Apocalypse Now with the 80's delivering Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. All of these critiques of war and war tropes likewise critically acclaimed for their unflinching examinations. For the most part, Westerns were shallow and simplistic in the face of what was happening in the news. Tom Brokaw was more compelling than Tom Mix for many Americans. That's not to say there weren't game changers like The Man With No Name, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and The Quick and the Dead to name but a few.

Arguably, Robert Rodriguez's Mexico Trilogy did the most for giving the genre a new lease on life for subverting typical tropes of the genre (as well as quality remakes like Unforgiven playing its part). There's also the Django story which is essentially a western Herculean myth. It will keep being told and generally will remain entertaining for a long time to come, especially in the hands of passionate creative minds like Quentin Tarantino.

Ridley Scott said some years ago that scifi was dead, then the same year Sunshine came out, and the past two years alone (including this Friday) show that isn't the case. So I think it is a matter of passion. Of course, there are scifi Westerns that like to have their cake and eat it, too.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
Oh very much yes. The opening of this was literal. I really was in a cafe doing other writing with that question popping in my head. So this was all written for the majority in a rush and no sources. I was going to bring up Django with other things that get in the way of westerns and film making, which was political correctness. What they say about Blazing Saddles being unfilmable today can be said for all films. You simply can not do a good historical based film now with someone getting mad at it. I did want to bring up the subject of it not being popular anymore too, as you pointed out, even more but settled for 'not the in thing' statement. I really do think an action western can be done and released in theaters and make a profit(Django did, but it had other factors working for it). I am not sure I can call Rodriguez's Mariachi films westerns, but I suppose you could XD Its also been over decade since Once upon a Time in Mexico had been released.

And I know what film you are speaking of coming out this weekend. It has been at the top of my must see list for nearly a year now and been urging everyone to go see it its opening weekend.

(seriously, Pacific Rim comes out this Friday. Go see this film! Del Toro deserves any support he can get so he can do the films he really wants to make. I want my Mountains!!!)
dmfalk
5 years, 4 months ago
Really? Live-action anime, complete with neural-networked mechas and Lovecraftian tentacle monsters from a dimensional portal in the deep waters of the Pacific? Seriously??

Not me.

d.m.f.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
Dude, that description alone sold me. Add Del Toro's name as director and I am there with hand lotion.

(I advise not doing as I had just said. Seriously, not cool)
dmfalk
5 years, 4 months ago
All I see is a repeat of Battleship, bad dialogue and all. I can guarantee you you'll get fodder for your Bad Movie Fridays out of Pacific Rim... :P

d.m.f.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
Just saw it. It is NEVER going to be on BMF.

EVER!
IanSoulfox
5 years, 4 months ago
Having caught a early screening of Pacific Rim.. trust me.. it's the real deal.. I NEED to see it again.
CashewLou
5 years, 4 months ago
I would say over the last decade the only decent westerns that have made were actually more "anti-westerns," and both were directed by the almost-never-miss Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan. Those movies were No Country for Old Men and True Grit.

Most people wouldn't count the first because it's not a "traditional" western, with the action taking place in modern times and in vehicles as opposed to horseback. Nonetheless I consider No Country to be a western in that the setting and the characters are extremely out-of-place in modern times; Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff opens the movie with a monologue expressing exactly that. Josh Brolin's character is an out-of-place loner, and Javier Bardiem's character doesn't seem to be from this planet. And talk about your Man With No Name! Okay, fair enough, he has one--but it's mispronounced or forgotten by most who know it, and nearly everyone he encounters winds up dead (exceptions being the trailer park manager, the gas station owner and the two young kids--I don't count the folks in the drugstore because none of them really see him). But No Country has the traditional western-style characters, setting and shoot-em-ups, just with a modern spin.

True Grit, of course, is a remake of the 1969 John Wayne film--and even back then it was considered sort of an anti-western, since the three "heroes" of the movie are a drunken has-been, an egotistical jerk and a smart-aleck drown-her-in-the-river-now little girl. But it's definitely a survive-by-your-wits-in-the-wilderness western. And I think the Coens did the original justice--I actually think they improved upon it.

But the Coens tend to be pretty independent, and make films they're interested in making as opposed to kissing the asses of test groups and taking surveys. They're a rarity in Hollywood, where almost since its beginning the bean counters have been running what should be a creative enterprise. That still doesn't answer your question why--other than the occasional Unforgiven or That Jesse James Movie With the Ungodly Long Title--why, why, why do modern westerns really suck?

Part of it is the what's-tested-is-true philosophy. Movies based on comic book superheroes tend to do well at the box office, so we'll just reboot Batman, Superman, The Avengers and The X-Men for a 60th time and count the profits. For all its liberality and chest-thumping about taking the pulse of society, the money men who run Hollywood are for the most part very chicken-hearted and scared to death of taking even a tiny risk.

I would suggest taking a look at a societal reason, as well. When westerns first really took off in the 40s and 50s, a lot of them were an allegory of the atomic age we had just entered, along with just plain nostalgia about an out-of-control era of our past. Shoot-em-ups were practically fantasy, an escape from our real-life worries while at the same time reminding us of the big shoot-em-ups that could happen if someone in Washington or Moscow got an itchy trigger finger. But westerns were big back then, so what about now? Well, I'm gonna make a guess.

In the 40s and 50s--when Hollywood westerns were really at their peak--your average American saw them as could-never-happen-here fantasy, back when the US was still having growing pains and there were Injuns and outlaws all over the Great Big Bad Wild West. In the 40s and 50s, most moviegoers lived in an America where that sort of shit just plain didn't happen on their streets or in their communities. It was easy to get a voyeuristic adrenaline rush from something we knew could never even remotely effect our happy little sheltered homes.

Gah...I got too gabby...will have to continue this....
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
True Grit is a given and never really thought of No Country for Old Men as a western. But again, both are more drama with just a few gun fights than action.And that was a damn long movie title for modern films XD

But alas, I am more referring to action western. The ones that are meant to be fun, and exciting. As above, it really does make it hard for today's audience to relate to horse back chases, and is possibly one of the reasons why Fast and Furious films do so well(as dumb as they are). Hopping down to your next reply....
chimangetsu
5 years, 4 months ago
Funny you bring up The Fast and the Furious movies since the filmmakers of the latest in the series was made deliberately to be a stupid action movie, which in a way is admirable. The film is what it is and isn't taking the piss out of you.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
yeah, It really is hard to tell what they are trying to do with those films. I enjoyed the hell out of Grindhouse, Machete, and both Crank movies, but I just never got into the FF films.... though I will see the next one just to watch Jason Stathom. The man is this generations action star and is great for it.

I think its just the fact they are shown in such a serious manner and not seeing the fun in all of it. Also not a car guy so thats a negative on me too XD

I see and understand how they are popular and all.  

Now the dance competitions films, THOSE I have not a clue of how they are still being made. I know they are prolly cheap to make, but is there really that many people wanting these films to see in theaters? I just saw a preview for a new one with Lone Ranger, about a dance group be trained in a juvie detention center so they are ready to dance off in an international championship and the world champions "The Koreans" ."Lets bring that trophy back to America." OMG!!! It was like seeing a trailer for some kind of Rocky/Best of the Best rip off with dancing instead of fighting, and was just bleeding "USA! USA! USA!" all over it. BMF
CashewLou
5 years, 4 months ago
The 1960s seemed to introduce an era of American gun violence that has never ended. JFK in Dallas, Charlie Whitman in the UT Tower, MLK in Memphis. TVs helped bring the gore and horror of Vietnam into our living rooms. RFK, Kent State, Columbine, Aurora, Newtown...the list goes on and on. The romance of the gun has ended for most sane people.

Also, the 1970s forward brought us more cop movies and TV shows, and more entertainment based on the mob. The average American could enjoy most of this type of entertainment without worrying that anything shown would ever reflect anything that could happen in their personal lives. Almost none of us know real-life mobsters or any of the almost cartoonish characters with which Tarantino populates his movies. The bottom line is: people want to be entertained, not reminded that so many things in the real world just absolutely suck. Cops-and-robbers and mob movies don't seem "real" to most of us--even though many of them are based upon real situations. I think--and this is just my guess--the average American can identify the macho gun-totin' cowboy as being more real than the gritty big-city cops and mobsters--possibly because so many gun nuts like to use western terms in their rhetoric. Just look at the "Minutemen" and the folks like them "guarding our borders." They're all playing cowboy; they think they're at the Alamo.

Our society seems to be split down the middle when it comes to gun violence, with little middle ground. Some think 30,000+ deaths a year are no big deal, while some think it's a negative reflection on our country's culture. Hollywood keeps an eye on that, and doesn't really like to jump into topics that are likely to piss off their audiences in one way or another. I think if our culture comes together on the topic, the western as a genre might make a comeback.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
I love how you guys are giving the history and more complicate answers for me XD

I wanted to go on and on with all of these things and point out other problems in film making as a whole, not just westerns. But as I pointed out earlier, I really was working on other things inside of the local cafe. I really was in a room that I had not known was reserved for a group of ladies to to meet and greet and knit and gossip. I typed this up with in like an hour ofthe four hours I was in there.

I like that I got some passionate responses to  this little thing. It was more or less something I had to get out of my head so I could move on to other things. Once I ran out of steam, I wrapped it up and called it quit. Hence i left out the other problems and just settled on a big one.
dmfalk
5 years, 4 months ago
So many problems with The Lone Ranger... How true! And for being one of the most expensive movies of the year (and probably the last few years)... You just don't see where the money went, except south! :P There have been equally, even more extravagant movies that cost much less (even Cloud Atlas, for all its expanse, was something like $50m cheaper than The Lone Ranger, and you could actually see the expense at work), that at least they could've gotten a halfway-decent script that doesn't play both main characters as total buffoons! Even the revered Texas Rangers were portrayed badly. (They were America's elite US Marshals that patrolled the Texas frontier, and still do to this day.) They did get one thing right- The Lone Ranger was indeed a lone survivor of an ambush, and was thought dead... But that's about the only thing they got right!

In the old radio and TV series (it was radio where the character was created), the Lone Ranger was a true protector of the law- not a wannabe lawyer- who never resorted to violence (or using a gun, even though he had one- The whole point of the silver bullet was as a calling card, to say he was the Good Guy, even though he wore the mask) or committing crimes- It was always the opposite. And Tonto? He was a scout, not a troubled kid with no grip on reality!

....And Colby, Texas is nowhere near Promontory Point, Utah, where the Golden Spike was hammered in!

Needless to say, my mother- whom I worry about, now that she's 67- liked it.

I thought it was a- if you pardon me- a train wreck! :P

And John Carter was good- and mostly faithful to Bouroughs' concept, though the Carter/Bouroughs interaction was mostly Deus Ex Machina than anything.

Oh, well...

This year has mostly been a theatrical disappointment... :(

d.m.f.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
LOL

Yeah, I kept noting every time I saw recognizable scenery that everyone knows was not in Texas(movie was never filmed anywhere near it). Coen's did the same thing with True Grit, but having been to Fort Smith and the region, they was close.

And I do agree, The year has been very disappointing for movies. There have been entertaining films but none I can call true classics or great. Hoping Pacific Rim changes all of that.
 <all who read this are now obligated to go see Pacific Rim this weekend. Not Monday or anytime after, but this coming weekend of July 12,13, and14. You are to bring a friend. It is highly advise to see it on an IMAX screen or a screen of that complicity. Not doing so means you do not love you grandmother, USA, and doughnuts. Everyone loves doughnuts>
ScottyKat
5 years, 4 months ago
Because they cant stick to a theme. Instead of the movie being written by the writer for the movie, the movie is written by the director, for the actors as well as well as the director's ego. They don't know how to stick to their theme, instead just wanting to flaunt the guy's in the costumes.  Sometimes the directors do a movie right. but a lot just do not think about  the movie for it's sake.

Also Executives.. and Marketing. That will do it too. Movie's suck now because there are a lot of people who shouldn't be aloud to work on movies, making them.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
I can guarantee the trains was the directors idea. The guy loves train action
chimangetsu
5 years, 4 months ago
<The guy loves train action>

Twss.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
HA!
X3
ScottyKat
5 years, 4 months ago
at least Trains were a big deal back then
SpottyFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
I like pie.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
Me too~
soggymaster
5 years, 4 months ago
I think you nailed the biggest reason why I don't go to the movie theater to see a movie anymore with the reasoning why movies I should like, I don't, because there's too much crap in them.
I also think Scotty nailed the issue regarding why I don't like movies made in recent times.

There's a reason why I sit down and enjoy a movie with you and BunnyFoxGlove  sometimes, and that's largely because of the chatbox running along the right hand side of the video screen.
draegwolf
5 years, 4 months ago
I say this and I'll stand by it, the last good western to come out was the 3:10 to Yuma remake.
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
Okay, I really did forget all about that one. And most defiantly fits what I am talking about for an action western.
chimangetsu
5 years, 4 months ago
KNIFE
5 years, 4 months ago
I'm gonna go out on a limb here,mostly because, as of this writing (07112013), I have yet to see Lone Ranger, but from what I've read of the description of it and what Verbinski has said about it it SOUNDS like he was trying to depict the old west as a fable told by someone who was there to someone who wasn't, embellishing it with the tellers own imagination and peculiar take on what was going on many years after the fact. If THAT's the case..he might have actually accomplished something because MOST of what we know about the "old west" (and actually ALL of history in general ) was just that: accounts of incidents told by people to other people passed down for many years until it became the stuff of legend.  That won't make up for any shortcomings the movie has concerning actual storytelling or character development or the like, but it just might be enough to make me forgive a lot of things when I see it.  
  
I'll update this review after I've seen the movie.


 
CursedFerret
5 years, 4 months ago
trying nothing, That was exactly what the film was. That was what the Princess Bride part was about. Could have worked, I guess, if not for the more outrageous things.
KNIFE
5 years, 4 months ago
If that was what he was trying to do then he should have watched a movie called "Little Big Man" with Dustin Hoffman. It was pretty much the exact same premise but from a survivors pov of the Little Big Horn from a man who was captured by the Indians and fought for them against Custer. Anyway I'll hopefully be seeing it this weekend so we can discuss it further after that. :)
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