Jonah Hex (DVD Review)

When the Jonah Hex movie was announced I was really looking forward to it.  I love westerns, it had a good cast, and I enjoyed the character in earlier DC Comics shows such as Batman – The Animated Series, Justice League – Unlimited and Batman – The Brave and the Bold.  Hex was never popular enough to have his own show, but he did have several long running comic series which were popular.

Like a lot of people, I had heard the behind the scenes stories about the troubles the movie had being made.  Star Josh Brolin coming into this project on a career high, decided to flex some new-found power and had the studio replace the writer-directors Brian Neveldine and Brian Taylor with Jimmy Hayward who despite only helming one animated movie previously (Horton Hears a Who), who had sold Brolin on his vision of the film.  Brolin was also instrumental in casting all of the roles and he did get a good cast.  Where he went wrong was not reworking the script and his choice for the direction of the movie.  I am not a fan of the Crank series so I cheered when they were replaced, but the hiring of Hayward, (who is so clearly out of his element here) did the film no favors.

My colleagues here at whysoblu.com all warned me that the movie was terrible so I was the only one that wanted to review it and I can see their point of view but at the same time, I can see the possibilities that the movie had if only they had done things differently.  With a better script, a different director (I would have loved it if Quentin Tarantino had done this), and possibly some cast changes as well.  Despite being a second tier character. this movie could have been incredible and the start of a new franchise if it had been done right like Blade for example, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.  The best case scenario for Jonah Hex is that he gets a reboot like Hulk did and it’s successful, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.


As the film opens we hear Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) tell us how trying to do the right thing can sometimes have dire consequences as Hex’s family are killed in front of his eyes because of his previous actions that cost General Turnbull (John Malkovitch) his son.  Wanting revenge, Turnbull kills Hex’s family and brands his face so he would always remember who took everything away from him.  We don’t learn all of the background details all at once, as the film’s disjointed narrative skips around its timeline but eventually we learn that Hex started the Civil War with the South but ended up fighting for the North and eventually killed Turnbull’s son Jeb who was also Hex’s best friend, when the man drew his weapon on Hex.

Hex is later found by some Native Americans who bring him back from the brink of death but his brush with death leaves Hex with the ability to speak to the dead and a bunch of crows that seem to stalk him and occasionally fly out of his mouth when he almost dies.  Much like the cats in Batman Returns who revive Selina Kyle and whose cat salivia turns her into Catwoman, the crows somehow revive Hex and really should have been left out of the movie.   If there’s two things you can count on in the movie, it’s crows showing up constantly and a fire starting directly or indirectly if Hex is around.  Based on this movie, I would say that he is a bounty hunter by profession and a part-time arsonist for fun.

Anyway, Turnbull somehow learns of a doomsday weapon that level cities by shooting normal cannon balls into an area and then some kind of magical golden glowy ball (much like the Gungan energy balls from Phantom Menace) that acts as the trigger and blows up the rest of the ammunition.  Nothing is mentioned on how these magical orbs came to fruition other than a short monologue about Eli Whitney who went from making gin stills to creating magical devices.  Of course this leads to the obligatory scene that shows how villainous Turnbull is by killing a bunch of civilians with this new device.

Alarmed, President Grant press Hex into service to eliminate the threat the Turnbull poses and Hex goes looking for revenge against the man he thought was dead.  After interviewing Turnbull’s dead son Jeb, Hex learns where where the bad guy hideout is and promptly goes in there alone to take on Turnbull’s army.  Even though his armed with some futuristic explosive crossbows, Hex is shot again and is taken back to the Indians who must be by now tired of reviving Hex constantly.  On the plus side, I think he is one card punch away from getting the twelfth revival free.

After spitting out a crow, Hex is good to go again, and he picks up where he left off after sending a telegram asking for reinforcements (this old dog can learn new tricks)!  When his prostitute girlfriend Lilah (Megan Fox) is kidnapped by Turnbull’s right-hand-man Burke (Michael Fassbender), Hex surrenders and together they plan to to stop Turnbull’s plan to attack the populace of Washington D.C. during the Fourth of July celebration.  The final outcome is predictable and the movie follows the usual cookie-cutter approach to action movie endings.  This movie had the chance to be more subversive and unpredictable just based on the character of Jonah Hex who is relatively unknown and doesn’t have the baggage and expectations of heroes like Batman and Superman have.  The filmmakers had a clear field to do what they wanted and dropped the ball at the start.  Let’s hope Deadpool learns from this movie’s mistakes.


I was going to rate this as a three, but I decided that I was being too harsh because I’ve gotten so used to watching Blu-rays.  For a DVD this has a better than average picture as the daylight scenes look pretty good but like most DVDs, the night scenes are murky and a lot of detail is lost.  There were several areas where the picture was so dark that I couldn’t see exactly what was going on.  On the other hand, shots during the day had nice detail and the flesh tones were nice as well and it is anamorphic as well.  The print itself was good with no scratches or specks or other issues to speak of.  I wish I could have reviewed the Blu-ray to see how this movie really should look like to give a fair review.


I was less impressed with the audio quality for this movie because despite it’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track the movie barely uses the rear or satellite speakers which makes me start lowering the rating off the bat.  Dialogue is clear and the front speakers do most of the work well but although it was loud in parts, there is no reason in my book why a comic book action movie shouldn’t utilize all of the speakers.  I’m sure the lossless track on the Blu-ray sounds a lot better.

Special Features  

On the DVD the only extras it has are a collection of deleted scenes and it plays all of them in a row with no option to pick and choose what you want to see.  In fact, the scenes aren’t even given a description and it starts right into it.  There’s nothing special that was cut out of the movie except for Michael Shannon’s entire appearance in the movie.  I know that the Blu-ray version has more extras so go for that version.  This is pretty disappointing considering how much happened behind the scenes of this movie.  It would have been nice to have a commentary track or even a discussion of the difficulties making it and why Francis Lawrence was brought in to fix it at the end including entire sections of the film such as President Grant that wasn’t present beforehand.  I suspect that the picture in picture track on the Blu-ray contains some of what’s missing here.

Final Thoughts  

This movies had all the right ingredients to be a really good movie but between the script, the wrong director, and a well-meaning but too controlling actor all added up to a valiant miss.  All of the actors are fine (although Malkovitch is in full ‘I’m here for the paycheck’ mode) and the studio clearly spent good money to make it look good, but sadly it did not all come together.  By adding a unexplained parallel ending where Hex and Turnbull fight in some kind of spirit world at the same time they are fighting in the real world just made the movie more confusing and really just put the final nail in the coffin right at the end of the film when the movie needed a strong finish that would have the audience leave feeling good about it.  Instead, the movie just reinforces the negative feelings one has and ruins any chance of audience acceptance.  I hope Jonah Hex gets a second chance like the Hulk did, but with a better script and the right director.  If you plan on buying this movie make sure you get the Blu-ray because it has a lot more features and I’m sure the overall quality is better too.


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11 Responses to “Jonah Hex (DVD Review)”

  1. Aaron

    You were too kind to this terrible movie.

    Some notes:

    -Megan Fox plays a convincing whore.
    -John Malcovich tries to take over America with Dragonballs
    -Will Arnett is in this movie for some reason and says, “My unit is the very best.”
    -Not sure who mumbles more, Josh Brolin in this movie or Harrison Ford in general as of late.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I’ll never see this.

  3. Brian White

    Yeah, I do reckon that you were pretty kind to this flick. This is not saying much, but the best part about this movie was Megan Fox. Good bonus Sean!

  4. Sean Ferguson

    I don’t think 2 1/2 stars is generous. I also think that Will Arnett was miscast and wasted as he should be in a ton of comedies because he is hilarious in the right role. I also don’t think Harrison Ford mumbles. I’ve understood his dialogue in every movie he has done.

    Brian, I thought you would like the bonus!

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    Not saying I don’t understand his dialogue, but in his late career (despite my gross exaggeration) Ford (especially in interviews) really hasn’t been one for speeches.

    And if Prince of Persia gets 4 Stars, I can see how you’re not being generous with this film.

  6. Gerard Iribe

    Ford is a bit of prick when it comes to interview and speeches. I’m surprised he was even in the Blade Runer (4hour) documentary. You could tell he kind of didn’t want to be there.

    /off topic

  7. Brian White

    Thank you for my bonus Sean 🙂

  8. Sean Ferguson

    Gerard – Ford may not be comfortable doing press but that doesn’t make him a prick. I guess it all depends on how you look at things. He didn’t enjoy making Blade Runner or working with Ridley Scott but he still participated in the documentary about it so I think that fact speaks well of him. If he was a prick, he wouldn’t have been involved at all. I think his comments in that documentary were the most interesting because he responded honestly and I thought it was fascinating to see if time had changed his perspective on the movie.

    Aaron – since you seem to enjoy Troll 2 for whatever reason, I am immune to your taunts on Prince of Persia. No amount of alcohol or friends could ever make me want to see Troll 2 again.

    Brian – You’re welcome!

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    Oh I don’t enjoy Troll 2 at all, nothing would make me want to watch that film more than once, but I do derive pleasure from those who hate it just as much.

    As much as I love seeing Harrison Ford in movies, the man is really just not very fan friendly. He can do whatever he wants, he’s Han “freakin'” Solo and it’s his life, but he is still a grumpy old man.

    Getting back to Jonah Hex – This movie sucked hard. I have difficulty going between this or Wild Wild West as to which one is worse. At least Hex is shorter…

  10. Brian White

    I will only agree with one point Aaron makes above. Ford was very grumpy at Comic-Con. He did NOT want to be there. You could see the look all over his face. It’s a shame too, because there were so many die-hard fans there supporting 🙁

  11. Aaron Neuwirth

    Only one point? You mean you love Troll 2, Jonah Hex, and Wild Wild West featuring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, and Sisqo ?!?