Wild Wild West (1999) is a goddamn gem and I don't care what anybody else thinks

August 17, 2017

You've seen it on Netflix recently. You might have even added it to your list. Maybe even watched it, hm? If you have: yes, very yes. If you have not, read this, then go do that.


Wild Wild Yes! (MoviePosters.com)


1999 was a great year for film. At the turn of the millennium, we were graced with such blockbusters as The Matrix and Star Wars: Episode 1; such winners as American Beauty and Magnolia; and such controversial films as Eyes Wide Shut and Fight Club;  but perhaps no movie was as graceful, impetuous, and era-defining as the period piece Wild Wild West from director Barry Sonnenfeld, which is seeing a revival after landing on Netflix this month.


Featuring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Selma Hayek, and the wonderful Kenneth Branaugh, who plays the heart-hardened nemesis Dr. Arliss Loveless, the 1999 Academy Award winner for Best Picture is still a freaking masterpiece 18 years later, and if you don't think so then that's okay you're entitled to your own (shitty) opinion. 


Okay, let's talk about the actors first.


The Fresh Prince of Steampunk, Will Smith, aka Big Willy Style, aka Gets Laid in a Water Tower in the first scene, is genius from start to finish. Is he a cowboy, is he a US Marshal, is he a player or a pimp? Answer: none of the above. This gun-toting badass with a good heart breaks ALL the rules. As the President of the United States (played by US President Ulysses S. Grant himself) describes Capt. Awesome: "And you, West, not every situation calls for your patented approach of 'shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two.'" Classic 18th President of the United States stuff right there!


Smith plays a former slave who escaped captivity at the age of 9 and was then raised by Native Americans in the desert and carries a big ol' chip on his dusty shoulder after seeing his parents get gunned down by a Panzer at New Liberty City. Ever since, he's been on a relentless hunt for two things: booty and revenge. Spoiler alert! He gets them both. 


Kevin Kline, who got snubbed for a Golden Raspberry Award for his portrayal of Artemus Gordon, plays the not-so-mad scientist who defies physics AND gender norms at every turn. Jet-propelled bicycle? Check. Open-air bomber plane? Check. Comfortable with his sexuality in the late 19th century? Check as fuck. 

 "Avanti!" means Fuck Yeah in French. (IMDB.com)


Then there's Rita Escobar, played by Selma Hayek. Her deceptive damsel in distress is the low-key hero of the movie, spurring the guys into action with her body AND mind, and at the end she's all like, OOPS I'm married, sorry guys! Patriarchy, consider yourself bucked. 


You want humor? Check out this one: 


Artemus Gordon: She's a breath of fresh ass.

Capt. James West: Pardon me?

Artemus Gordon: What?

Capt. James West: You said "ass."

Artemus Gordon: No, I didn't. I said, "It's nice having her on board, she's a breast of fresh air."

Capt. James West: Let's just get some shut ass.


Ummm, Freudian slippage in a pre-Freudian setting? Mind = blown. 


And don't even get me started on Dr. Arliss Loveless played by Sir Kenneth Branagh, the best Shakespearean actor of any time in a role of Shakespearean proportions! Cunning, twisted, and without a care in the world about carbon emissions, Loveless is all his name says and more. I mean nothing in this film is anachronistic. Impending technological warfare, a divided US, and a wily dictator/ half-man set on ruining a century (centuries) of US progress! Sound familiar? Plus, he's a racist. 

Imagine if a maniac were actually running our country? (MovieVillains.com)




Guys I'm so serious, I drank a bottle of wine last night and watched this movie and it is still so freakin good. You want themes? There are some. You want relevance? Try this one on for size:


"The wrongs will be righted! The past made present! The United - divided!"

Who said it, Dr. Loveless or Donald Trump? I seriously DON'T KNOW. 


I'm gushing. Man, if only they made movies and music like this still, maybe we wouldn't be, you know, here:

 (The New Yorker)


We probably still would be though. 



*Correction: Wild Wild West did not win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1999. It was 2000. 



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