Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Film Substitutions

Via George Junior, here is Lileks on 3:10 to Yuma, the western featuring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe:

The final scenes would have been more credible if Ninjas rode into town on giant ostriches and killed everyone with light sabers. It’s so preposterous that you cannot accept the movie as a depiction of a sequence of events that occur on the ordinary mortal plain, so it has to be something else – some sort of allegorical tale that reveals its true nature in the last sequence. Oh, that wasn’t about a good guy dragging a killer around; it was Flawed Man earning the respect of the Devil. (As some reviewers have suggested.) That would make more sense than a sociopath getting a last-minute conscience implant.
I had the same problem with the way the film failed to remain true to the evil of Russell Crowe's character.

Might I suggest The Proposition as a corrective? (I did once before.) It's not exactly obscure, but doesn't seem to get talked about as much as it deserves. Suffice to say The Proposition is what 3:10 to Yuma might have been without the failure of nerve.

It's an interesting case study of similar films covering similar themes, settings, conflicts, and characters. Substitute Guy Pearce for Christian Bale, Danny Huston for Russell Crowe, the Australian Outback for the US "Wild West," and watch the divergences unfold.


mikesdak said...

I haven't seen the film, but I did read James Lilek's review (his website is one of my favorites). It sounds like another example of the long-standing Hollywood "gotta be happy" practice that has mutilated many films.
I also want to say that I greatly enjoy this blog, and have added it to my standard reading list.

Dale said...

Mike, I didn't *hate* 3:10 to Yuma, but just felt let down by aspects of it. It was enjoyable. The Proposition was, to me, a superior film, although I would not say it was more *enjoyable* -- it's not the sort of thing you'd call *enjoyable.*

Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate the kind words!