Wild Wild West
Wild Wild West
Directors: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writers: Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Producers: Barry Josephson
Runtime: 106 minutes
User Rating: 1.6667 out of 5 Stars! (6 Votes)

One of the box-office smashes of the summer of 1999, this film by director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Get Shorty) was raked by critics but embraced by audiences. Based on the 1960s TV adventure show that starred Robert Conrad, this film reimagined Secret Service agent James West as Will Smith, adding Oscar-winner Kevin Kline as his sidekick, agent-inventor Artemus Gordon. President Ulysses S. Grant puts West and Gordon on the trail of malign genius (and former Confederate soldier) Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) in a story about racism, partnership, and world domination. The special effects are lavish, even garish, but not all that special; they're not enough to elevate a mundane and familiar plot. Even Branagh, playing a man who only exists from the waist up--literally--can't find the juice in this lumbering affair. Still, the fast-talking team of Smith and Kline is a nimble one. Smith's affable charm and Kline's subversive wit win many points, though not nearly enough. --Marshall Fine
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Lonnie E. Holder | 2 out of 5 Stars!
02/12/2004

In the mid-60s there was a show called "Wild Wild West" that starred Robert Conrad as James "Jim" West, a western version of James Bond, and Ross Martin as his brainy sidekick Artemus Gordon. This show was creative and intelligent and yet full of action. The movie "Wild Wild West" starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline has nothing to do with that television show, unfortunately.

Will Smith is another Jim West and Kevin Kline is another Artemus Gordon in an alternate universe that never existed. In this universe the Wright brothers apparently were asleep as Artemus and Jim were tooling around a giant steam-powered iron spider that is unlikely to exist in any imaginable reality. Indeed, the only point of any vague historical accuracy is that there was a President Grant and there was a meeting of the railroads. After that, this movie is "The Twilight Zone" in the west.

In this fantasy movie Kenneth Branagh plays Dr. Loveless. Once again, forget the wonderful Michael Dunn as the original Dr. Loveless. Branagh has none of the charm and wit of the original. Dr. Loveless has decided to create his own empire based on the ability of his giant spider to trounce anyone who gets in his way. However, he seemed to have neglected to consider that an open cockpit is a sure way to eventually be shot. Along the way we see a number of other equally improbable devices that make for interesting special effects but continual disappointment with the movie.

I have yet to mention that not only is this west some bizarre fantasy version of the original west, but this version of Jim West has a continual string of one-liners that would have allowed him to do stand-up, but not in the alternate reality of this movie where no one seemed to understand his jokes, often including the audience. Kevin Kline also had a number of humorous lines, though his were more ironic and involved, and typically based on technology that exists only in the alternate reality of this world.

This movie does have its moments. If you like comedy and know little about the original "Wild Wild West," you may find the comedy overwhelms the total destruction of history and scientific feasibility; or perhaps you like stories of alternate realities. The special effects are wonderful. I admit that when I could overcome my disappointment that there was no attempt to remain within the vision of the original show I was fascinated by the gadgets. However, gadgetry alone does not overcome the unbelievable story.

Oh, and as if all the other flaws in the movie were not enough to disappoint a viewer, the DVD includes Will Smith doing a hip-hop song. Hip-hop in the west? Perhaps I watched this movie from the wrong perspective. Maybe if I had taken it for a farce, like "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," I would have liked the movie better. Then again, probably not.
A Customer | 1 out of 5 Stars!
24/01/2001

I actually saw this movie in the theater. My friend and I almost walked out. The manager who had been working at that theater for 3 years explained that he has never seen such customer dissatisfaction over a single movie. The movie starts out bad and ends even worse (which is a miracle in itself). I found myself sighing throughout the entire flick. The movie concept was a good idea; however, it was done VERY, VERY badly. I would rather stare at goldfish in a bowl for two hours than to be forced to watch this again.
Scott T. Rivers | 2 out of 5 Stars!
13/12/1999

"Wild Wild West" is not a total fiasco, but it's easy to see why this big-budget revamp of the classic TV show never clicked. Simply put, Will Smith and Kevin Kline are not Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. There's no chemistry or rapport between Fresh Prince and Shakespeare Boy, which seriously damages the film's potential. Kenneth Branagh - for all his talents - doesn't hold a candle to Michael Dunn's original Dr. Loveless. Despite its impressive set design and visual effects, "Wild Wild West" falls flat. Here's some helpful advice to producers planning big-screen remakes of 1960s TV shows: If you cannot find the right actors, don't bother.
Woody | 1 out of 5 Stars!
06/12/1999

Wild, Wild, West is undoubtedly one of the year's worst films. One of the factors that makes the movie so frustrating to watch is the fact that it is based on one of the most inventive and original shows I have had the pleasure of seeing. Inventiveness and originality are lacking in this mess of a movie where the script is horrible, the one-liners stale and the performances wooden(except Kenneth Branagh, whom you feel sorry for trying so hard to be evil).Will Smith is stripped of the charisma that is his best selling point. Kevin Kline, a talented actor is reduced to playing second banana to an uninteresting hero and I have a hard time remembering Salma Hayek is in the movie.I didn't really expect it to be "good", but I at least expected it to entertain me, instead of providing rest I didn't need. What a waste!
A Customer | 2 out of 5 Stars!
16/11/1999

I was really excited about seeing this one. Will Smith never fails to give a blockbuster, Kevin Kline is witty and Kenneth Branaugh is one of my favorite actors. Even Salma Hayek proved herself in "Hunchback of Notre Dame" (NOT THE DISNEY VERSION - this one is the beautiful, yet depressing one made for cable). However, West really didn't know where to go - it's beginning was the worst part. I couldn't understand a thing at all. Then the movie lifted up, but not enough to make it excellent. The biggest letdown was Will Smith. Gone is the Fresh Prince we once knew. Smith is toally dead in his performance; he is not funny at all and spends his time talking about women's breasts and butts. It got really tired after a while. Kevin Kline turned in a good show, but not enough to save the picture. Kenneth Branaugh was reduced to a small pathetic "villian" character. And Salma? What the hell was she doing in this movie. MAJOR LETDOWN, but still not so bad. It has its moments, so give it a try but don't buy it. It's not really worth it.
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