By CBS News Karina Mitchell
The Wild West makes its way to the box office this weekend (well, sort of) with the release of the much anticipated "Toy Story 3" with Woody, the animated cowboy everyone loves, along with Buzz and the rest of the colorful gang . There's also "Jonah Hex," featuring a gun-slinging comic-book renegade.
The word 'cowboy' is the only thing the two films even remotely have in common. That, and of course, their June 18 release date. One is definitely not to miss. The other is just a giant mistake.
Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story" franchise is a phenomenon in a league of its own. Fifteen years after the toys first swept across the big screen, confronting issues and emotions as real as anything their human counterparts ever had to deal with, the characters and their stories are still as relevant as ever. Watch this week's "Showbuzz" andto learn more about what adventures and adversities these characters with very life-like personas encounter when they decide to 'bust out'. The film opens in theaters all across the country Friday and seems almost predestined to become an instant classic.
Based on the DC comic book series, "Jonah Hex" stars Josh Brolin in the title role of a legendary bounty hunter. The biggest departure from the original character in this on-screen adaptation is that Hex seems to have picked up some supernatural abilities, making this the first occult western I can remember coming across. The two themes don't jibe well, making this montage more of a horror show than a western.
Brolin's Jonah is strange - very strange. He straddles both worlds, walking between the Wild West and the netherworld in a bizarre storyline directed by Jimmy Hayward in his second venture after "Horton Hears a Who". Hex becomes enraged when his home is intentionally set ablaze by archfoe Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) who does so to murder Hex's wife and child. He then goes on to burn a disfiguring brand into Hex's face, marking him like an animal owned.
In the trailer the antihero is seen close to death, lying defeated in a cemetery with a raven emerging from his mouth and signaling his initiation into the uncharted territory of the corpses surrounding him. Whatever transpires there leaves him with the uncanny ability to bring the dead back to life with the sole purpose of interrogating them for information. When the bounty hunter is approached by the U.S. Army on the eve of America's 100th birthday to take out his nuclear- bomb-building nemesis Turnbull, it's all-out chaos. The crazed Hex goes on a haunted, supernatural rampage to track down his family's killer. What ensues, according to several critics, is a plethora of chaos, with one-liners that fall short, scenes that blur together and that just don't tell a coherent story or provide any depth of character. There appears to be a lack of coherent insight into why Hex is so tormented. What has happened in the past to bring him to this point and what lies ahead for the reprobate hero?
If I could ask Hayward just one question it would be: "Why on earth did this bounty hunter out of the wild, wild west need to be superhuman? Please explain."
The only person who seems to understand Hex and see beyond the hideous scarring on his face is Megan Fox, who plays Lilah, a prostitute. On screen for only a few moments, she is inconsequential to the storyline and from all reports does not have the acting chops of her co-stars. About the only thing she brings with her to this comic book adaptation is some much needed relief in the form of eye candy. It will be interesting to see what this film does to Fox's career. Following on the heels of the less-than-successful "Jennifer's Body," it looks as if her Hollywood stock might take another nosedive. It's probably a good thing news of her "re-engagement" to former fiance Brian Austin Green is deflecting some of the press over her part in this film. Just a year ago, with the mega-success of the follow up to "Transformers," this Hollywood "it-girl" had studio chiefs salivating.
There is, unfortunately, nothing to salivate about in "Jonah Hex" - except maybe the news that at 80 minutes the film is short. There is no talk of a sequel to this antihero's antics.
That's the buzz for now, be sure to check out "The Showbuzz" next week when Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz make their way to center stage.