tek's rating: ½

Wild Wild West (PG-13)
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This 1999 film is based on the 1960s TV series The Wild Wild West. I might have seen it in a theater, I don't recall for sure. I certainly saw it on VHS, but I didn't write a review until watching it on DVD in 2021. In some ways I'd say it's more of an action comedy (with some steampunk thrown in) than a totally legit western, but I'm putting my review under "westerns" anyway. It's got some decent humor, some cringey humor, decent action, cool gadgets and whatnot. Overall I thought it was a fairly fun movie, though I think I liked it less this time around than I remembered liking it. Oh, also, Will Smith did a sort of theme song called "Wild Wild West", which plays over the closing credits.

In 1869, U.S. Army Captain Jim West (Will Smith) and U.S. Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) are each separately looking for a Confederate general from the Civil War, "Bloodbath" McGrath (Ted Levine). And um, there are some missing scientists who had been abducted by Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), a character who is very different from Miguelito Loveless, a major antagonist from the TV series. He's terribly upset about the South having lost the war, and now he wants to take control of the United States and divide it up between himself, England, Spain, France, and Mexico (and maybe a bit for Native Americans, though that's not explicit). President Ulysses S. Grant assigns Jim and Artie to work together to stop him, despite their having very different methods of operation. Jim's more of a "shoot first, ask questions later" kind of action hero, while Artie is more refined, a disguise artist and inventor of lots of useful devices. And somehow a woman named Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek), who says she's the daughter of one of the kidnapped scientists, gets mixed up in all this. (Jim and Artie both have a sexual interest in her.) They all travel on a modified train called the Wanderer, with an engineer named Coleman (M. Emmet Walsh).

Um... well, Loveless has several henchwomen working for him, including Mae Lee East (Bai Ling; the only one with any real dialogue in the movie) and Munitia (the one who gets mentioned by name the most). He's also got some cool gadgetry and weaponry he forced the scientists to create for him, though at least one weapon, a sort of tank, had been in existence during the war. And... I dunno what to say, a lot of stuff happens with Jim and Artie trying to stop Loveless and him trying to stop them. I don't really want to spoil any details of any of that, though. A lot of it is cool and some of it is redonkulous.

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