Monday, July 19, 2010
Appaloosa slipped under my radar during its time in the cinema. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking that it looked good, being a buddy type Western about Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. Also, I think it was the second film directed by Ed Harris, after Pollack which I also enjoyed. But then I either forgot about it, it disappeared, or it was only in the theater for a week, so I missed it. This is what happens with most Westerns, since for whatever reason they are box office poison, even if they are brilliant. I need to make a mental note next time to see any decent looking Western in the theater on opening day, just on principle.
And, as I said, Appaloosa is a good Western. Maybe it's even a great Western, though it probably isn't a timeless classic. But it was a lot of fun, the story was interesting, if a little less than epic, and the acting was great. The chemistry between Mortensen and Harris as deputy and marshal is amazing. These two were in perfect sync and played off of one another perfectly. The villain was played by Jeremy Irons, who was mostly good, even though he did very little and had nothing much to do. He was more a of talked about threat than anything all that engaging when on screen. But at least it was Jeremy Irons. And then there was Renee Zelweger, who somehow keeps getting put in movies even though I've never met anybody anywhere who doesn't hate her. If, like most people, you do hate her, this movie isn't going to do anything to change that. She is at her absolute baby-voiced, squirrel-faced, obnoxious worst.
The story is the simple tale of two law men attempting to bring a murderer to justice, but the way in which its told feels fresh and interesting. The film gives a really interesting, in depth look at the way the judicial and law system of the old west worked, though I can't speak for its accuracy since I don't know. There was no rounding up of the posse here, since they had to wait until the had evidence of the villain's murders, and then they had to wait until the trial and sentencing. That's basically the entire plot right there, though there was enough subtext thrown in and some subplots here and there to keep things interesting.
But the real star of the show, and the heart of the story, is the friendship and chemistry between the two leads. These are likable men -- the characters and the actors -- and their story is worth watching. Anyway, it's a good western. That's all you might need to know.