When was the last time Hollywood made a good Western? The early 90s with Unforgiven, probably. Though the two Earp movies from that time period were good too. But it’s like Hollywood lost the ability to create a Western. Which is sort of insane considering that the genre exists because Hollywood was the master of the Western for generations.
Now, mind you- Westerns are not now, never have been, and never will be my cup of tea. However, I can and do appreciate the genre. Sometimes, I even enjoy the films.
That being said, what the hell is wrong with Hollywood lately? They’ve been trying for a few years to bring back the Western, but they seem to have lost the plot. For some reason every attempt lately has included a majority of special effects- that take more focus than the story. The beauty of the Western is that it’s a simplistic moral story. There’s a hero, a villain, generally a damsel in distress, and an over arcing message in every story. And traditionally, only basic practical effects are needed- think about a flood, or small mine explosion, those are not fancy shmancy and don’t detract from the story. But I can’t think of any recent films that didn’t lose the story because something in the visual effects took away the attention.
The most recent, major Westerns that I can think of include Cowboys & Aliens, Lone Ranger, and Jonah Hex. Heck, even Wild Wild West fits into this group. For each film, the story is lost under the effects and extraneous information. Mind, True Grit, came out a few years ago and seems to follow the traditional Western path. It did very well.
(I feel like I should note I watched a Western recently and I am still confused about it because a] it didn’t connect to the description at all, b] there were multiple plotlines happening and none connected to each other, and c] once it almost made sense, it suddenly didn’t again and the writer tried to suddenly make it into a “true story”)
Anyways, I guess what I’m really saying is that I’m tired of people trying too hard. Tell the story. There don’t need to be CGI aliens in everything that Hollywood produces. Sometimes, the story and the characters need to be more important.
I do want to mention I have not and probably won’t see Django Unchained, but I would be interested to know if it was a good Western or not.