January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

PROJECT Wild, Wild West, Barry Sonnenfeld’s big-screen remake of the late-’60s, gadget-heavy TV staple starring guy’s guy Robert Conrad.
THE DETAILS U.S. special government agents James West (Will Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) team up to stop the evil Dr. Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) from assassinating President Grant circa 1869.
AT STAKE After scoring in the biggest summer blockbusters of 1996 (Independence Day) and 1997 (Men in Black), Smith goes for the hat trick.
THE BUZZ Despite Smith being on the bench last summer, Sonnenfeld swears Will is back in game condition: ”Will is everything you’ve seen before, plus he’s James Bond.” just don’t call it a western Since cowboy pics aren’t exactly magic at the box office these days (who remembers 1998’s The Newton Boys?), expect to see limited use of the W-word. ”This feels more like Men in Black than a John Ford movie,” explains Sonnenfeld. And it’s certainly got the sci-fi gizmos: Dr. Loveless’ arsenal will include an 80-foot-tall walking tarantula. ”It’s mostly done on the computer,” says Sonnenfeld, ”but we did build one leg of it and it weighed 16,000 pounds. It’s badass.”

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