Hey, thanks for showing up for the movie, nobody.

I kid.  I announced my attendance at the the-yay-ter too late in the day for anyone to notice.

Well, what of Appaloosa?  I’m trying to decide what to rate it, so I’m looking through my archives to see what I’ve rated the other westerns I’ve seen in the last couple of years.  My ratings of previous westerns;

  • 3:10 to Yuma a 4/5
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 3.5/5
  • Seraphim Falls 2.5/5
  • It looks like I never gave Open Range a rating, but it would definitely be lower than what I rated Yuma or Ford and at least as high as Seraphim Falls.

(In retrospect, I’m wondering if I was a little too generous with 3:10 to Yuma and not generous enough with The Assassination of Jesse James.)

I love the myth of the American West—dusty little towns and dusty, grizzled, gun-toting men with sun-baked faces who stare death in the eye on a daily basis.  In this respect, Appaloosa filled the bill, as it were.

And for once I didn’t think of Aragorn when Viggo Mortensen was in the scene.  He did well in his role.  And Ed Harris, who I often find too stiff and brooding as an actor, was quite open and loose from time to time in this film.  And it’s hard to go wrong with Jeremy Irons.  Renee Zellweger’s face seems to get tighter with every film she does (one of these days she’ll close her mouth and her face will rip off—nothing personal, that’s just how it looks to me), but she did well as well.

It’s a standard western: bad guy ruthlessly runs town, his posse flaunting all law and order; good guys with dark side (but no posse) come to clean up town; there is a lady; there is some shooting (or a whole lot of it); there are some scenic vistas; there is a showdown; it looks like the good guys have won; oh, but wait, the bad guy is back; no, now the good guys have actually won; and off into the sunset.

Mind you, this is not a bad formula.  In fact, it’s one of the things I love about westerns—you kind of know what to expect going in.  However, it’s nice for it to be freshened up every now and then, which is one of the reasons Unforgiven was so good.  Appaloosa did not really freshen up the western, as far as I can tell—except maybe the Renee Zellweger-Ed Harris “love story”.  The film reminded me quite a bit of Open Range and 3:10 to Yuma.

I did enjoy the film.  It had a nice pace and a great cast.  I’m reluctant to compare it to the films I mentioned in the last post, although I can see a bit of the relationship between Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in “Lonesome Dove” in the relationship between Viggo and Ed.

Since ratings are expected now, I’ll give it a…um…aargh.  I hate this part.  (I’m looking back at my archives and my ratings are all over the place, lacking any consistency.)  Umm…3/5 3.5/5

UPDATE: I’m too much of an indecisive softy to rate films effectively.  I just changed my rating to 3.5/5 and now I’m thinking possibly even a 4/5, but I daren’t up it by a full point.

I also felt bad about my comment about Renee Zellweger’s face since I clicked “publish”.  It is purely an observation of her facial progression through several movies and not meant to cut her down.  Of course, I immediately think crazy thoughts such as, What if Renee Zellweger reads this post. Which doesn’t really matter…except…What if I meet her some day!

I wonder about myself sometimes.

4 thoughts on “Appaloosa

  1. Anonymous

    “In retrospect, I’m wondering if I was a little too generous with 3:10 to Yuma and not generous enough with The Assassination of Jesse James.”

    No – 3:10 was worth every star/point/pilcrow you gave it.

    I like your summation of Western plots. dead on. Even “Unforgiven” fits that scheme, with a few minor shifts.

    I think I’ll go see this one. I’m a big fan of Viggo.

  2. Phil Wright

    Hi Marc, for sure I remember you and Dixie. What a night that was! First my ranting, then Randall’s big move, then hiring you! Are all your congregational meetings so… full?
    Looking forward to seeing you again,

  3. lisa

    We definately want to see this film. Not sure what to think tho’ as we enjoyed Seraphim, Open Range and 3:10 way more than The Assasination. So by you’re ranking we’ll go in with low expectations and then (hopefully) be wonderfully surprised! If you’re a fan of Viggo, Hidalgo is also a really good one to watch.

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