I've been reading the reviews, and frankly I got *real* sick of people writing a review for a movie they obviously knew none of the background to. I believe one person said it was "cliche entertainment," that it's all been done before. No way, really? Probably because there was a TV movie done back in 1988. Or that it was a book long before then. Did it EVER occur to any of these people that it's the OTHER movies which are cliched, and that this one is trying to pay at least a little homage to the guy who invented a lot of this? Forget Tom Clancy. Ludlum's been writing this stuff longer.
But, I got a similar vibe from people about "Minority Report," too. It hasn't occurred to 98% of the viewership that it's based on a story written, what, 40, 50 years ago? PKD is the *man*. He's the reason the twisted plot is so popular now. I hate idiots who write without understanding.
I dig this movie. It's fun. Sure, it deviates from the original story, but oh well. That was written way-back-when, and it's been updated a little. And, much as I never really cared about Matt Damon at all, I think he did a pretty decent job with this character. Thumbs up.
The only way in which this movie qualifies as a 'great western' is because it takes place in the Old West. Compare this movie to classic westerns, and you will see next to nothing in common. How does it qualify as the 'first great western of the 21st century' is because there have been so few - and even that doesn't save it. Even "Blazing Saddles," the Mel Brooks satire comedy, beats this movie as a 'western' by genre and reality!
The reality here is that it's meant as a kids' movie. The sheer number of real-world inaccuracies is astounding. Here's an example: When was the last time you saw a wood-fired steam engine explode with great flame when it crashes into another similar engine, neither of which with a fire in the boiler. And then continue to explode all nearby buildings. Then continue to create a forest fire - in the middle of winter, with everything covered in snow. With rocks burning, and fire raging across the land. And the next morning, miraculously, nothing else is touched, and it's a nice, warm spring day.
One of the true tragedies of this movie is the vain attempts to vilify humanity. Every human we encounter is completely wicked and vicious. Until, of course, our 'native-american'. Who even betrays the lead character, Spirit, on at least 2 separate occasions - and yet the horse continually forgives him. Did I also mention that virtually every point at which a white man is displayed as a horrible abomination of creation, they're also dressed in military uniforms, with the American flag waving in the sky or other symbols of the Union? And despite the approximate era at which this movie is supposed to take place, you also did not see any blacks anywhere oppressing horses, even working on the railroad lines - they were all bland-faced, grey-skinned, down-trodden folk.
This movie is a kids' movie, and that's about all. It is a movie about the changing face of the West, and how utterly wrong it was for us to have done that. Every time the horse made some jump or leap, I kept thinking, "Matrix rip". Even the closing shot is a ripoff from "The Lion King" with Simba on the high outcropping being worshipped by his subjects. If it wasn't for the fact that it was the first movie in a double-feature with "Fellowship of the Ring," I would have never seen it in the first place, and left before it was even done.
If I had to describe what I've seen of this series so far (4 episodes) in one word: pedestrian.
I found the stories to be trite and predictable. There was little originality - mostly old stories as the basis. It's like 'The Outer Limits', but in the 'Young Adults' section. Henry Rollins, while I dig him well enough, does a rather unconvincing job with the 'punchlines' at the end.
If you want a cute 30 minute piece with an actor or two you'll easily identify, go ahead. Otherwise, I say stick to 'The Outer Limits'.