It's hard out here for a gimp. Just watch this movie if you want to know why I live in Minnesota. This is what would happen to me just about anywhere else in this country if I didn't have a family who cared. I saw it on Showtime and felt grateful. Not a perfect movie, but I don't think I've ever seen one like it, and I really sort of loved it.
I was attracted to this movie because of my love of the actors, the poster of Michelle Williams with a shotgun, and mostly, my love of the 80's video game "Oregon Trail". I wanted to see all the hallmarks of the journey - people dying of dysentry, breaking limbs, only being able to bring 100 pounds of meat to the wagon no matter how many animals are eaten/slaughter. There's really none of that here. There's a wagon train of early travelers led by a complete idiot named Meeks, who really should have been cut off from his job early on, like when the 2 week tour went into the third. At the time, my thoughts were: this is not what I was expecting, this is incredibly slow, I can barely stay awake, and I really love the music and cast, but it's not enough. It kind of had the vibe of "There Will Be Blood", but that movie moved like lightening in comparison. Scary weird "2001"-like music, a desert, hard conditions. Heck, Paul Dano was in it (who was incredible as the preacher). Here, the men are not too bright, and the women aren't either, but for the time, they look like geniuses in comparison. The movie is really from their perspective, as they try to figure out what to do about this hellish situation they are in. They use their brains rather than their heads - for example, instead of finding an Indian, kidnapping him and expecting him to know English the more times you say it and louder and slower while abusing him? Not really the best approach. Anyone who has played Oregon Trail knows that if you've got the cash, the Indian guide will get you where you want to go. If you treat him like a dog, he will shake his head while you lose your wagon and the men lose their minds. The shotgun is not gripped by Michelle Williams early enough, and that is my main critique. Too slow. It did feel like you were going with these fools, but it's just too agonizingly long to wait for someone to grow a pair and a brain. The ending is rather abrupt and a little unsatisfying. Sometimes you don't care to use your imagination, you want some closure. You want a tombstone or a crazy wagon river crossing. It's like the game shut down and you didn't hit save, and you end up really angry. "Here lies the viewer: died of boredom and frustration". It did make me want to read and learn more about this story though, so that's a plus. In a way, I kind of want to watch it again now, just because I read more about it and I know what I can fast forward. Also, great font and title/end graphics. Kudos.