Will Smith, Kevin Kline, ...

The Wild Wild West

”The Wild Wild West” is one of the worst movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA On CBS from 1965 to 1970, Robert Conrad donned a bolero jacket and snug pants to portray West… James West, the James Bond of the cowboy set. His sidekick, Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), was the go-to guy for gadgets and disguises.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Featuring the same characters as its TV counterpart, right down to President Ulysses S. Grant and the villainous Dr. Arliss Loveless, the big-budget summer stinker made one key change through casting: Box office champ Will Smith (right, with Kevin Kline as Artemus) turned West into an African-American cowboy.

LOW POINTS So many to choose from, since Kenneth Branagh’s cacklingly fey drawl ruined all of his scenes as Loveless, especially a final set piece staged in a massive tarantula-shaped fighting machine. Of course, the film’s endless string of winking sex gags (Smith and Kline massaging each other’s fake breasts, for example) fell flat, too.

LESSON LEARNED Sometimes, it really pays to read the reviews, even for big-budget action vehicles.

WHAT EW SAID ”Wild Wild West is a movie that figures out how to go thud more often, and in more decadently extravagant ways, than just about any would-be blockbuster since Hudson Hawk. . . . In this noisy, joyless, bizarrely static fiasco, every element on screen . . . seems to let the air out of the one before it.” D+

The Wild Wild West
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