Editor’s Note: As with many of our Ten and Five articles, this article does contain spoilers. You’ve been warned, partner.
While Westerns may be a rare thing in theaters these days, luckily we’ve had a few in the recent years that were good. Joining that list is the Ed Harris helmed Appaloosa, which co-stars Viggo Mortensen and captures the essence of the historical West while keeping true to the roots of the fictional world of stand up shoot outs and wise cracking, whiskey swillin’ Lawmen.
10 Things I Liked
10. End Credits – The end credit sequence was awesome, with beautiful high resolution photography serving as backdrops with some great music played over top – first Tom Petty, then Ed Harris himself crooning.
9. The Visuals – Ed Harris can direct, no doubt about it. The shots he selects in this film are great, channeling classic western inspiration from past greats while keeping it fresh.
8. Virgil & Everett – The relationship between these two characters rings true and illustrates a realistic friendship between two men in America’s frontier.
7. The Guns – I love firearms and Appaloosa brings a lot of good looking iron to the screen, from Colt Peacemakers to Winchester 1873 Rifles.
6. The Ensemble Cast – There are a lot of great people assembled for this film: Lance Henriksen, Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, and Jeremy Irons.
5. Brevity of Gun Fights – In sticking with some of the more realistic elements, gunfights in the old West often only last a few seconds. Even the gunfight at the O.K. Corral was under 40 seconds. This film portrays shoot outs accurately.
4. The Script – This isn’t the movie most were expecting – There were classic Western themes, which we want, but also there are large doses of wit and humor which were unexpected and welcome.
3. Acting – Almost across the board, everyone did a great job. Mortensen, Irons, and Harris are all in top form portraying their characters, though we don’t expect anything less.
2. The Score – This is a great, classic Western score, which I purchased immediately. It includes two songs sung by Ed Harris, both of which relate to the film and are very enjoyable.
1. The Details – There are a lot of little details that I took note of and enjoyed. A lot of attention was paid to the small things, from glassware to weapons. My favorite detail was the well worn leather recoil pad sewn into Everett’s coat jacket, which complements his impressive 10 8 gauge shotgun. Also, awesome period correct mustaches.
5 Things I Didn’t
5. Lack of Advertising – Where is the support for this film? I love it, yet have only seen a handful of advertisements. This film could have used a bigger push.
4. The Bumbling Town Elders – The guys who seemingly ran the town of Appaloosa were just a touch too comical at the times, like the Three Stooges. Really, not that big of a stumbling block though – and I do love James Gammon no matter what he’s doing on screen.
3. Multiple Endings – This has been going around a lot lately and Appaloosa fakes you out with one climax only to continue onwards. Though, what follows is good, so I’m nitpicking a little.
2. Continuity Errors – I did notice a continuity error or two – a glass refills itself and Viggo’s shotgun switches between being open and closed in some shots.
1. Renee Zellweger – When she’s first introduced, all I could think was “This is Renee Zellweger,” and it took me a little bit out of the film. She was also a tad annoying, but about halfway through the film I was on board. Still, I think perhaps there were better choices for the role.