In that regard, this isn't exactly what you'd call a groundbreaking picture. Thankfully, however, this routine formula is but employed in the beginning of the film. What follows is something of less predictable nature; taking us on a voyage more variable and unforeseen.
An appealing gunslinger tale, blessed by the presence of formidable actors like Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons. All of them bringing a quality to the screen that more than compensates for the hackneyed first chapter.
Additionally, it deserves to be said that I was entertained throughout. Not spectacular in any way, but solid without question and well worth the view.
The acting is very average, from such a top class cast I expected a much more epic feel, instead it feels almost like a TV special. Irons being the worst with a very panto acting turn, Viggo is so thin in the face he looks ill and isn't much better than his 'Young Guns 2' role way back and Zellweger looks rather fat in the face and pretty ugly dare I say. How she gets roles I dont know cos her acting is really basic, this could of been so much more.
The plot is also very patchy, holes here and there make it a touch tricky to follow later on in the film and it does tend to drag and get less interesting. Not much happens really, it builds up to an anti climax that leaves you yearning for a good shoot out.
Harris needed help with this and alittle direction...as said its very 'TV-movie-ish'.
Looking at this film from every possible way, I can't imagine liking it.
The Western movie genre is one of my favourite ones. 'Dances With Wolves', ' The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' and 'Unforgiven'... Just to name a few larger than life westerns.. So, I'm pretty eager to watch any westerns available. But I'm afraid that some of 'em ain't that good...
'Appaloosa' is actor Ed Harris' second film that he has directed. The first one was a portrait of an artist, Jackson Pollock, named 'Pollock'. If I remember correctly, the film was a strong directorial debut. 'Appaloosa' was at worst a total disaster.
The story is a basic "western" story with vigilantes and tough ass sheriff's. No surprises here. But what really surprised me was the terrible acting by the big named actors. Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons... And the highly overrrated Renee Zellweger. I have to say this and I'll probably win some hearts and loose a few.. While watching the movie I realized how much I actually hate Zellweger. Her looks, her voice.. That awful grin on her face. On the bonus side, all of these factors helped me hate the character as well. You'll understand me if you watch 'Appaloosa'.
The film looks good with a realistic tone to it all. The costumes look good but what's with the beard of Mortensen. Could it look any faker? Everytime Mortensen was on the screen, I had this urge to rip it off!
The acting is below any expectations. Awful is a kind word to explain it. The leads make probably their worst performances ever and the supprting cast ain't doing a good job either.
'Appaloosa' is full of terrible acting, awful characters and a terrible "love story" that is forced in to a mediocre story. But on the positive side, the gun slinging looks and sounds awesome and that's important in any westerns, right?
Amidst the dusty backdrop there is a very odd love triangle and an almost apologetic attitude towards Zelwegger's charactor, who, as Morgensen explains in a very well written scene is the mare who only wants the lead stud of the herd. Harris, who has fallen for her replies that the stud can change over time.
Speaking of time - there is a theme here, as Harris replies to Irons insistant "you'll never catch me" bromide with "never isn't over yet".
There are overtones of bonding, trust, and respect here that make the western such a beloved genre. There are hints of the Eastwood spaghetti westerns here, from the stark scenery (especially the "south of the border" town) to the no honor amongst thieves and rule by fear aspects.
While there is a sufficient amount of gun violence here, ironically the film manages to come off as more of a charactor study than a shoot em up, as the violence seems totally natural and properly motivated throughout.
The only real downsides to this film are in some of the plot conventions, the superflous courtroom scene (unnessary and does nothing to advance the plot), and the irritating bit where Harris keeps stumbling over the words he wants to use, asking Mortensen "what am I trying to say?". Bogus and off putting, as was the innitial smitten portrayal by Harris when he meets Zelwegger.
The actors are not the greatest, but there good enough. The gun scenes are some of the most realistic I've seen. The soundtrack is solid but not up to parr with 310 to Yuma or Assassination of Jesse James. The plot itself is a good one but a little to simple for me - it's a great flick and nice too see a modern day western but it also does not seem too deserve a spot on the shelf with the legendary western's out there today.
It's worth a watch - I bought it too. If your a fan of westerns in general buy it. If you are just looking for a good flick , rent it, and return it.
You can see the draw, with actors and directors basking in the dress-up thrills of Hollywood tradition while Harris, in particular, must have savoured the ironic resonance of peacekeepers upholding the law with a rifle. "Killing is sometimes a by-product," growls Harris's Virgil Cole, the uncompromising sheriff-for-hire and Wyatt Earp-alike freshly arrived with his dutiful sidekick Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), a vision of Doc Holliday.
This is a fine portrait of friendship between men. That said, the decidedly quirk Cole and Hitch (who indulge in much amusing wordplay throughout the film), are far more interesting and engaging than most, and they make Appaloosa something truly special.