Over the past 7 days I’ve been on a bit of a Western adventure. A couple of weeks ago I suddenly fancied watching an exciting “cowboy” movie, so I did a spot of research and picked out a bunch of modern Westerns I hadn’t seen before and went about using up my collection of iTunes vouchers on a series of movie rentals. I thought it would be cool to share my reviews, ratings and recommendations for anyone else who enjoys a good Wild West flick, so read on to find out which movies I watched and what I thought of them.
My Modern Western Movie Marathon
The purists might say I don’t appreciate the art of cinema, but my criteria for my Western movie marathon was titles that were released in the last 25 years or so. I’m personally not a big fan of the classic Spaghetti Westerns from the 60’s-70’s. They might top all the movie the charts across the web, but I much prefer the faster pace, less cheese and generally more advanced audio and video technologies of movies from the 90’s & 00’s.
Monday: True Grit (2010) – 7/10
I started off my marathon with True Grit, the most recent title in this bunch of rentals. The story follows a headstrong young girl as she hires drunk Marshall Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and is assisted by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) to track down and kill her father’s murderer. A revenge story is always satisfying and a gunfight or two kept the action alive. Other than not being able to understand half of Cogburn’s slurring drunk lines it was really enjoyable and definitely worth a watch.
Tuesday: Appaloosa (2008) – 8/10
There’s some movies you know are going to be great just from looking at the cast. I knew the combo of Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris as a couple of lawmen hired to rescue a town from an outlaw gang would provide some excitement. I would have been quite happy to cut out the whole “love” portion with Renée Zellweger’s character and watch constant showdowns and gunfights, but it helped finish off the movie with a touching storyline alongside the action.
Wednesday: The Quick and The Dead (1995) – 5/10
The all-star cast of The Quick and The Dead definitely saved this one from a 1/10. Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and a young Leonardo DiCaprio all play their part in a gun competition which Sharon Stone’s character uses to seek revenge on the ruthless mayor of the town who killed her father when she was a child. Gene Hackman plays pretty much the same role as he does in Unforgiven and does a great job, but overall the movie was waaaaay too cheesy for me. If the lighthearted cheesiness was swapped for a dark/gritty tone it would have made an epic Hollywood action flick.
Thursday: Unforgiven (1992) – 4/10
After hearing multiple recommendations via Twitter and seeing its high ratings as an all-time Western classic I was super excited to check Unforgiven out. I actually saw the final scene on YouTube before watching the movie, which added to my excitement, but it turned out that those last 10 minutes were the only real action scenes. The rest was filled with a long and pretty boring storyline. I originally rated it a 3/10, but it’s the kind of movie you can reflect on and understand the emotion behind the story. In the case of Unforgiven it dismisses the Shoot ’em up theme of Westerns and instead takes a deeper approach and shows how killing someone results in a great a psychological burden.
Friday: 3:10 To Yuma (2007) – 9/10
You know those movies that you want to watch again the very next night? For me 3:10 To Yuma did just that. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe seemed to be the perfect fit for their respective characters. Bale plays a Rancher just trying to support his family and keep his son’s respect, while Crowe is a ruthless outlaw whose charm makes you actually forget that he’s the bad guy and start rooting for him. Ben Foster’s Charlie Prince character really stood out to me too, he added the awesome gunslinging aspect I expect to see in a Western, so overall the combination of good story, great acting and some cool action scenes made this my movie of the week.
Saturday: Open Range (2003) – 8/10
Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall was another movie that captured everything I was looking for in a good Western. The reliable revenge storyline gets you emotionally involved with the characters, but the great thing about Open Range is you’re not rooting for ruthless lawmen, these characters are your every day working men who are just doing what’s right. The story builds up to an epic gunfight which only slightly let me down with a touch of cheese. Being somewhat of a firearms enthusiast I appreciate the revolvers, lever-action rifles and double barreled shotguns of the 1800’s, so when Charlie Waite manages to fan 16 rounds out of his 6 shot Peacemaker it kind of ruins the authenticity, but at least it extends what would otherwise be a short lived gunfight.
Sunday: Tombstone (1993) – 10/10
I actually cheated a little with Tombstone with it already being one of my favourite movies, and the one that actually gave me the idea for this Western movie marathon. All the other films I watched for the first time this week, but I thought I’d finish off the marathon with another viewing of Tombstone. Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday is my absolute favourite character from any Western movie. If we’re judging based on epic gunfights, enticing storylines and how many awesome quotes and one-liners you can take from a movie Tombstone wins hands down.