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Hollywood Product: Jonah Hex

DC Comics' weird western dies with its boots on

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GENRE: Weird western

THE PITCH: Confederate soldier turned hideously scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) tracks down his maniacal former commander Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), who plans to wreak havoc on Washington, D.C.'s centennial with a giant war machine designed by Eli Whitney.

WHAT THE HEX? Some of the film's more baffling sequences include: an ugly, cheap-looking animated recap of Hex's origin; a crow wriggling out of Hex's mouth in a Native American sweat lodge; recurring, perplexing shots of a dream-like fight scene between Hex and Turnbull; and a bare-knuckled brawl between a big bruiser and a semi-human "snake-man," whose presence is never explained.

BEST LINE: Hex explains why he only brought back a criminal's head to collect the bounty: "The rest of 'imp was too fat for the horse."

WORST LINE: "He's building it. He's building the weapon," President Grant (Aidan Quinn) declares in one of the film's many scenes that could be an outtake from Will Smith's Wild Wild West.

BODY COUNT: Pretty much every major set piece ends with a massive fiery explosion of a building/train/township, so let's say upward of 100, concealed by editing to maintain the film's PG-13 rating. Thanks to Hex's ability to speak to the deceased, some characters literally die more than once.

FASHION STATEMENTS: Hex wears a Confederate hat and jacket. Wes Bentley as one of Turnbull's moneymen appears to have mink muttonchops. Megan Fox looks great in the corsets, garter belts and other items of frontier whore-wear. Turnbull's vicious henchman Burke (Inglorious Bastards' Michael Fassbender) sports a bowler, extensive neck tattoos and enough charisma to emerge from the film unscathed.

THAT FACE! Audiences will spend the film feeling bad for Brolin, who sports a grotesquely pockmarked cheek and a little strap of flesh connecting his upper and lower jaw. Brolin manages to give a performance under all the makeup — which could've been even worse. In the DC Comics, Hex also has a protruding eye and looks even more like the Batman villain, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent.

SOUNDTRACK HIGHLIGHTS: Atlanta-based heavy metal band Mastodon was hired to compose the soundtrack, but much of the band's work has reportedly been replaced. Supposedly, a six-song EP will be released at the end of June.

ALL OVER THE MAP: Early scenes take place in a sun-bleached desert, like the American Southwest, but latter portions occur in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and D.C. How do these characters travel so fast on horseback?

FOR FURTHER VIEWING: You can get a better sense of the comic book character's appeal in his brief, animated appearances on "Justice League Unlimited" and "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." Thomas Jane will voice Hex on an animated short that accompanies July's straight-to-DVD film "Batman: Under the Red Hood."

THE BOTTOM LINE: The best thing about Jonah Hex is that, with its 80-minute running time, there's not very much of it. Brief moments with Brolin talking to dead people suggest the moody supernatural revenge flick it could've been, but the notoriously hexed production results in a noisy massacre of an intriguing comic book tough guy.

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