Appaloosa (2008) Poster

(2008)

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8/10
We can't have our law officers beatin' people half to death for no reason.
Spikeopath3 October 2010
Appaloosa is based on the 2005 novel of the same name written by Robert B. Parker. It's directed by Ed Harris, who also co-writes the story with Robert Knott. Harris also stars alongside Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons & Lance Henriksen. Music is by Jeff Beal and Dean Semler provides cinematography on location in Albuquerque, Austin and Santa Fe.

Appaloosa is in the grip of bully boy rancher Randall Bragg (Irons), who finally oversteps the mark when the latest Marshall and his deputies are killed in cold blood. The townsfolk decide enough is enough and hire no nonsense travelling lawmen Virgil Cole (Harris) and his sidekick Everett Hitch (Mortensen) to protect and serve the town. Ruling with a rod of iron, Cole & Hitch start to bring order to Appaloosa, but the arrival in town of pretty Allie French (Zellweger) causes quite a stir between the two men. Bad timing too since the guys are trying to get Bragg to his rightful execution.

In the modern era the Western has been the hardest genre for film makers to tackle. You can probably count on one hand the number of great or agreeable ones that have surfaced post Costner and Eastwood's efforts of 1990 and 1992 respectively. Enter Ed Harris, who undaunted by the long odds of getting a Western to be successful; and suffering worrying overtures from his backers at New Line Cinema, got Appaloosa made. Well made as it happens.

Since the story itself is etched like the Wyatt Earp legend, there's really no fresh perspective on offer here. In fact, anyone familiar with Edward Dmytryk's excellent Warlock from 1959 will feel some narrative déjà vu. But Appaloosa does have strong performances and lush landscapes to see it successfully home. Slotting in a good helping of action, romance and humour also goes some way to making Harris' movie a worthy modern day Oater. True, the cliche's are many, but Harris wasn't after revisionism, he wanted (and got) old fashioned Oater values. A film that follows those old beloved B movie Western conventions, but one that still retains a topical criminal thread.

The best reward in the film comes from spending time with Harris & Mortensen. Their characters are nicely drawn and not over cooked by the script. Cole & Hitch are devoted to each other, lots of straight love and respect exists between the two men. Their bond is believably brought to life by Harris & Mortensen, who formed a friendship when making A History Of Violence for David Cronenberg in 2005. Zellweger and Irons too are not without high merit value. She (stepping in when Diane Lane walked over delays), is pleasing and captivates in what is the critical glue role. While he is dandy dastardly supreme, a well spoken villain of much intelligence and crafty as a cat.

Appaloosa is a subtle film, both in story and as a technical production. Beal's score is unobtrusive, while Semler's photography manages to deliver that old fashioned feel that Harris was after (the low lighting for the interiors is particularly on the money) . Harris' direction is smooth and unhurried in pace, with the odd inspired bit thrown in for good measure (check out the up-tilt camera work during a train on a bridge sequence). While the production design can't be faulted. All that and you got the likes of Henriksen and Timothy Spall in the support cast too. A lovely film that is as tight as the friendship at its core. 7.5/10
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9/10
A Real Western
Stamp-32 October 2008
I saw Appaloosa last night. Absolutely fantastic. Whether it is because he is a bit older I don't know, but Ed Harris obviously actually understands westerns.

A straightforward western tale with very little revisionism, with real men doing "what men have to do". The sense of space, the wish to be part of civilization, the bad men resisting that encroachment, the sense of the mythic; it was all there.

A little bit more modern in approach than a classic 50's tale, particularly in how Renée Zellwegger's character developed, but a real story nevertheless; good guys, bad guys. Jeremy Irons is very good as the baddie. Timothy Spall is good comic relief and Ed Harris and Vigo Mortensen a terrific pair, carefully nurturing their relationship while understanding exactly what they have to do.

The pace was very good, allowing the story and character to develop properly. Even so, it could have and should have been shorter - John Ford, or more likely Anthony Mann would have got through this story in about 90 minutes, but very satisfying nevertheless.

Costner did a pretty good job on Open Range (that was really miles too long), 3:10 to Yuma was pathetic (why they bothered to remake it when the makers so totally misunderstood the thrust of the original I will never know).

But this was the real deal, or at least as near to the real deal as we are ever likely to get nowadays. Too bad it will disappear without a trace.
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8/10
Superb!
artzau4 October 2008
One reviewer remarked how "Ed Harris understands (the) Western (genre)" I couldn't agree more. This film is a delight. The writing is solid, the dialog sparked with humor, the heroes are more than caricatures and cardboard cut-outs, the villains are worthy anti-heroes and the back-up is wonderful. The performances of Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons as the main protag-/antagonists are sterling. Harris is the lonely paladin, uncompromising in his ethic, drawn in by the warmth and softness of a needful woman, artfully and convincingly played by Renee Zellweger; Mortensen is the slightly jaded sidekick who both respects and doesn't completely understand his hero. A parallel villain is offered by Lance Henrikson, a kind of poor man's Clint Eastwood, giving an interesting twist to the story. Some comic relief is offered by veteran character actor, James Gammon and fine British actor Timothy Spall without reducing the tension in the story line or reverting to a burlesque. The mythic theme of the knight-errant works well in this presentation brought to light by the competent direction of Ed Harris. My only fear is that it being devoid of ballet-type ritual killings, CGI and only a mild spattering of violence, it will likely fly under the radar of much of today's theater goers, which is a shame. It's a fine film.
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9/10
An old school western that more than gets the job done. It's a tour de "fource" for Ed Harris
The_Amazing_Spy_Rises2 October 2008
Films are made for us to escape to a new reality, whether that reality be complete fantasy, present day, the future, or in this case, the good old West. What we have here is a great western that looks and feels like a classic in the making, an old school western with an old school touch of directing (and acting) from Ed Harris. Appaloosa is very accessible in a film genre that isn't so accessible. It's a straightforward film that, despite that, never becomes predictable and formulaic. Harris's wonderful job on all fronts make Appaloosa one of the most complete films of the year. It's got it all, great writing, killer acting, and a great atmosphere that allows the viewer to get trapped in this old western world.

Set in 1882 New Mexico, Appaloosa follows the fate of the town of the same name, which has fallen into the control of a ruthless outlaw (Jeremy Irons), and the powers that be have hired new hands to take control of the situation (Harris and Viggo Mortensen). However, when a mysterious widow (Renee Zellweger) arrives in town, loyalties will be tested, friendships will be put on trial, and guns will be fired.

The strong point, as I've said, is Ed Harris, who pulls the quadruple threat of acting, directing, writing, and producing. Despite all the work he did on this film, he still manages to turn in an Oscar worthy performance as the steadfast and unwavering commander of the town. Harris is subtle, nuanced, and never out of control. He commands the screen every time he's on it, without yelling or doing anything too crazy. Viggo Mortensen's near silent performance is not short on talent either, as one of silent acting's kings continues to show incredible versatility (the guy is a fantasy king, Russian mobster, and now an old west Deputy Marshall). To complete the trifecta of greatness, Jeremy Irons is the only guy I can imagine in the role of the film's villain. His freezing stare, mixed with the icy cold voice he is most known for, makes him one of the most memorable villains of the year.

Renee Zellweger really didn't add anything to the movie, though her character wasn't too interesting, and just serves as a plot device. This is what keeps the film from getting that "10" from me. The rest of the supporting cast is really a non-issue, as the story really only revolves around a few characters.

What I enjoyed most about the film is that it really made me feel like I was out west...right down to the little details, such as sandstorms, the presence of Native Americans, small drawls from the actors (thankfully none besides Zellweger had a bad one), and the different kinds of horses & guns in the film. Harris keeps the film moving nicely, and there's only a few moments where I felt it dragged a bit. Like I've said, it's hard to find a real fault here...the film is just well done all around, from a production standpoint.

When all is said and done, I knew how I felt about this film the second the lights went on. I clapped and said, "that was great". Appaloosa is an old school western that has everything a fan of the genre could want...including a suspenseful and tense gunfight and crazy Native Americans on horses! It's definitely one of the most complete westerns and films I've seen this year, and should be in contention for a few awards come Oscar season.
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9/10
Great Adaptation of Parker's novel
ronroc-121 September 2008
I love all of Robert B. Parker's novels and I have a lot of respect for the craft of Ed Harris. This movie was a very faithful rendering of the book. Harris didn't get in the way of the storytelling rather he gave it a strong visualization. As the novel as written, the story is actually told through the eyes of Everett Hitch, played here by Viggo Mortenson. I love the way, even though he is somewhat of a side-kick, he was allowed to remain the viewpoint character. My only complaint was Renee as Allie. Reading the book I visualized a Faye Dunaway at 35. Diane Lane would have been more in line with the way the character was written in the novel. Renne struck me as a little too coquettish and obviously needy rather than manipulative and needy. It's a matter of taste but I would have preferred it. However, the rest of the casting was spot on and I hope Harris considers doing the sequel, "Resolution."
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7/10
An OK western but a great character study
judy3 October 2008
Appaloosa as a western is okay, as a movie its okay, but as a character study it's great. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen are two of the most underrated actors (not stars) in Hollywood. Viggo should have had two or three Oscars by now. His rendition of Everett Hitch made the whole movie more than worthwhile. He's a man of little words but great thought. He also an observant man, of things and people. He's loyal but with practicality. He knows what the two of them do and why they do it and he know enough about Virgil not to step on his toes. But he also knows when to say what he as to say and leave it at that. I'm never that impressed by Renee Zellweger but in this movie she sort of fit in. 7/10
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9/10
Finally, a western by people who understand real conflict
socrates9917 October 2008
I suppose this film is as vulnerable to deep analysis as the next one, but, why bother? This is entertainment the way I like it, straight up without a lot of foolish over the top action. The real west must have been fraught with similar dilemmas as that confronting the town of Appaloosa: What to do with a lawless band of men determined to live as they please by preying on timid town dwellers? I doubt there were many men like Virgil Cole or his partner Everett Hitch in the real west having lived among their great, great grandchildren (I've no idea what the real genealogy is) for a time, but men have often tried to live like they do with the result that they lived undeservedly short lives. Still, guys like me can't get enough of their stories and Ed Harris apparently feels the same way. Only Clint Eastwood in my memory has attempted to tap into this same wellspring of folklore as in The Unforgiven. Though we all love Clint, I'd have to say Ed outdoes him here. He's got a wonderful sense of what a real gunfight might have been like. And though he's trimmed off the cries of pain and the gore, it still has the ring of truth.
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7/10
Compelling and Weird Western
Jon Ochiai12 October 2008
On the immediate surface "Apaloosa" occurs as an old school Western grounded in the battle of good against evil. For the most part first time director/ writer Ed Harris's "Apaloosa" is the traditional tale of gunslingers hired to protect the town against the malevolent rancher, who terrorizes the town of Apaloosa. This slithery and wily Rancher is Randall Bragg, well played by Academy Award Winner Jeremy Irons. Irons is amazing. In the opening Bragg (Irons) kills the town Marshall and his deputies in cold blood. So there is no question surrounding Bragg's character. Harris and Viggo Mortensen play Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, who are lawmen for hire. The town of Apaloosa signs a contract with Virgil and Everett paying them to protect the town from Bragg. As part of the deal Apaloosa surrenders legal jurisdiction and autonomy to Cole and Hitch. This is pretty straight forward until femme fatale widow Allison French (Renee Zellwegger) arrives in town. Virgil takes a quick fancy to Allison, but her motives are vague and questionable at best. Will she threaten Virgil's partnership with Everett?

First off, I ultimately liked "Apaloosa", because Viggo Mortensen is awesome as Everett. Despite the movie's quirky idiosyncrasies, Mortensen commands the heroic presence as the sensible man of honor. Mortensen is the Western hero in the tradition of Clint Eastwood. As Everett, we always know where Mortensen stands, and he is both charismatic and cool. In a great scene a rival asks Everett about Virgil's gun prowess. Everett says plainly, "I haven't seen anyone as good as Virgil." Mortensen's Virgil salvages the movie's sense of honor.

As mentioned previously, "Apaloosa" is not really all that traditional just below the surface. And this is not necessarily a good thing. This is not the anti-hero masterpiece of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven". In one sense, I think Harris would like it to be. For one thing although Harris's Virgil is brave and noble, he is an apparent partial nut job. He goes nonlinear on some hoods in a saloon, among other weird out bursts. Harris's Virgil is not an educated man, and clumsily forces his diction and stumbles through Emerson. Instead of coming off as charmingly eccentric, his Virgil occurs as a little weird. Renee Zellwegger is an amazing actress, but here she struggles to carry off pretty. Her character Allison also has the propensity to have sex with virtually any man with a pulse. Straight and narrow Virgil in love with psycho whore Allison is not the most conventional love story, nor is it the story's most endearing plot line. Again, this may be more artifact of the screenplay by Harris and Robert Knot based on Robert B. Parker's best selling novel.

In spite of its quirkiness and kind of nutty characters, Harris manages to reign in the movie as it concludes-- opting for the more heroic. There is a great scene before one the climatic showdowns where Allison asks Virgil and Everett, "Aren't either of you at all afraid?" Virgil says, "…I guess I don't think about that so much." Also in "Apaloosa" the action is not leveraged for the utmost drama. Director Harris's action sequences lack crispness—the gun fight blocking is mostly single shot, without any interesting angles. Aside from the last gun fight, most of the action is diluted of high drama. The action is well done, just not spectacular.

"Apaloosa" is an amalgamation of the traditional Western with the idiosyncratic melodrama of the new. The overall effect is compelling, and also makes you scratch your head. Viggo Mortensen's strong and charismatic performance as Everett Hitch eventually wins out, and makes "Apaloosa" worth watching.
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8/10
A fascinating Western about two lifelong friends…
Nazi_Fighter_David1 March 2009
There are two tough partners in justice Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) that have been riding together for more than one decade and they understand each other just fine… So they're not initially supposed to talk about their easy, warm, intuitive solidarity… We intuitively catch there's something between them, that special bond, that profound respect, and obviously that sense of esteem, of attention and sympathy and most of all each other's needs…

Ed is particularly fine… It may not be a romantic conception, but he gives his role great vitality… He's melancholy, laconic and assured as the cool, nerveless professional hired gun who becomes the town's peace keeper... His justice is rapid and simple… Follow his law or get locked up; if you deny, you're going to be shot… He's also very faithful, and you see this in his friendship with Everett Hitch…

Virgil trusts Everett completely because Everett is very sincere and truthful with him…

With his formidable shotgun, Everett is a kind of Virgil's straight man, his worshiping right hand and conscience… Mortensen is a sharpshooter… He's never seen on foot, in any scene, without his huge weapon… His heavy rifle has become almost another character in the film… It doesn't matter where, either in his hands or right next to him… And that's in the bar, in the restaurant, in the office, and even in the bedroom…

Renee Zellweger plays the role of Allison French, a mysterious woman who seduces everyone…After Cole and Hitch meet her in a restaurant, they knew that she is a refined widow, that she arrives to the brutal New Mexico town with one dollar in her purse, that she plays piano and likes to be called Allie…

Cole takes a liking to her, and makes a very tough decision to stick with her… Zellweger plays the malicious new-gal with a great sense of sweetness and gaiety… She brings liveliness and refinement to her role…

Another strong character in "Appaloosa" is the miscreant cold-hearted rancher Randall Bragg… The film starts with the killing of the town's last Marshall and his deputies at the hands of the nefarious Bragg played by Jeremy Irons… Bragg is a wealthy man whose ranch henchmen run menacingly and aggressively over the town…

"Appaloosa" is a Western of real depth and sophistication… Every punch seen in the film is like a word of dialog moving the story forward, creating tension and drama…
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5/10
Intelligent but draggy Western
Roland E. Zwick5 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In "Appaloosa," which is set in the New Mexican territory of 1882, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen are a pair of frontier lawmen hired by the citizens of Appaloosa to wrest control of the town from a gang of ruffians (led by Jeremy Irons) after they shoot down the marshal and his deputies in cold blood. Renee Zellweger also shows up as a promiscuous widow who captures the eye and eventually the heart of the newly appointed sheriff (Harris).

Co-written by Harris and Robert Knott (from a novel by Robert B. Parker) and directed (rather ploddingly) by Harris, "Appaloosa" pays homage to the time-honored traditions of the Western genre, as the forces of Good, represented by Harris and Mortensen, square off against the forces of Evil, embodied by Irons and his cohorts.

There's not much that is truly new here, except perhaps for a refreshingly novel moral slackness in the lead female character. Yet, while the characterizations are rich, the relationships complex and the performances authentic, the movie itself suffers from a bad case of inertia, loping along at an enervating pace when it should be racing ahead at a full-on gallop.

There's substance of a sort to "Appaloosa;" it's just a question of whether you'll be able to stay awake long enough to fully absorb and appreciate it.
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10/10
Good Western
shmies4 October 2008
We just got back from seeing this movie at the theater. I've loved westerns my entire life. As do my husband, dad and father-in-law. This was a good solid western that I would recommend to anyone. There haven't been that many really good ones in the the last 20 years and this movie was refreshing. Nuance is word. It is what all the actors and actresses in this movie lent to their roles. This is a movie for the true fan of the western genre. And, it has Viggo in it. Need I say more? My husband is partial to Clint Eastwood's westerns. In the list of great westerns of all time, he said he would rank Appaloosa in the top 10 percent.
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10/10
authentic and poignant western
RichardWeddle15 October 2008
Appaloosa is a classic western and a sophisticated drama.

Appaloosa unfolds at the right pace for a drama. The scale is intimate, close, and minimalist, more like Tender Mercies or Hud than The Magnificent Seven. There is some action and a couple of very impressive gunfights, but it is not an action movie. That's what I like about it. It is willfully and deliberately not an action movie. Why does everyone assume that a western must necessarily be an action movie? How refreshing to finally see a western that's a character-driven drama, and it is through character that it generates tension, suspense, and interest.

Appaloosa is authentic because it's about stoic people living in harsh frontier conditions. These characters are maturely written, and they behave in a credible 19th century way. The acting is deeply felt all around. Even Jeremy Irons, who plays the corrupt rancher with political connections, is accurate casting. The American west was full of English and Irish immigrants who participated in range wars, county feuds, and town-site disputes. I don't think I've ever seen a female lead quite like Mrs. Allie French in a western before. She's a complete original for a western, and reminds me of the real women I read about in historical and biographical texts about the American west. I don't mind that she is played by Renee Zellwegger. Ed Harris and Viggio Mortenson deliver understated performances as town-tamers who are loosely inspired by historical lawmen. These two actors play off of each other's nuances with alertness and self-deprecating humor. The audiences can tell their friendship has been tested and we can believe they are only still alive because of their mutual trust. How their conflict plays out over Mrs. French works against our expectations of the genre. They both love Mrs. French despite her weaknesses. They will not hesitate to sacrifice for her, but nothing can break the respect these two men have for each other. There is a refreshing gentlemanly quality to this bittersweet triangle that I haven't seen since the early westerns of Zane Grey.

Appaloosa is authentic not only because of its characters, but because it's filmed in New Mexico locations that are correct to the time and place in which the story is set. The scenery includes the old adobe pueblo of Rancho de los Golindrinas, which western buffs may recognize from The Man From Laramie (1955), the antique narrow-gauge railway near Chama, and the pristine landscapes of Glen Hughes's Bonanza Creek Ranch below Santa Fe with its frontier-era town set, one of the oldest operating cowboy ranches in New Mexico. It's dusty and appropriately weathered, and the cinematography by Dean Seamler is a pleasure. The filmmakers work hard to get props, firearms, and set dressings correct to the period. The actors work hard to capture the vernacular of western speech, and they wear the right costumes and haircuts. They even stop to carefully reload their weapons, instead of firing a ridiculous and endless number of bullets like in spaghetti westerns.

The "R" rating is so unfair. There is one four-letter word and a four-second shot of two bare behinds in the distance, but that hardly merits an R rating. There's no gore and less violence than in most PG films. This is the kind of mature drama and appreciative Americana that adolescents need to see at the movies.

Ed Harris has made a kind of acoustic folk ballad of a western. There is no cgi, no cartoonish action. Nothing is faked, everything is real, including the weather. The train rattles and the wind blows inside because it really rattles and the wind really blows inside the cars. A lot of attention is paid to authentic sounds and visual textures of the period. Don't miss Appaloosa when it comes your way. Go to see it expecting an authentic western drama that credits you with intelligence and appeals to your intelligence. I hope audiences know how to appreciate what writer-director Ed Harris has accomplished here.
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7/10
Low-Key Western
kenjha12 August 2011
In the old West, two men ride into a small town to establish some law and order. This is a leisurely paced Western and it's quite enjoyable for the most part, but sort of runs out of steam about two-thirds of the way through. It is mostly a character study, with much time spent on low-key exchanges between Harris and Mortensen as the two lawmen, with some of the scenes reminiscent of "My Darling Clementine." Not that it's anywhere close to being as good as that classic. Zellweger seems like a curious choice to play a woman who arrives in town and strikes up a romance with Harris. She just looks out of place in a Western. It's not a bad second effort for Harris behind the camera.
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8/10
Something old, something new
Excalibur Steel20 December 2010
This movie has pretty much the same feeling, plot line and characters, as some older western. Yet, it also has this modern look and storytelling. Most of the characters are likable, and the actors do a great work. The plot and characters are build up well. For such a long movie, there are enough things going all the time. Gun fights look and sound good, the props are nice and music works just fine. The story is credible and the progress is exciting.

Only down side of this movie is the Allison character (by Renée Zellweger). She could have been built up a bit slower and with care. Now she just pops up, but on the other hand, that brings a bit of a mystery to her and doesn't really matter.

Totally worth of watching, if you like the 60's westerns.
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7/10
Intelligent and compelling tale about two friends hired by little townspeople to protect them
ma-cortes23 November 2009
There are always the men who live breathe violence and the women who hold their breath. Two famous ¨town tamer¨ named Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Stitch(Viggo Mortensen)come hired by the citizens (Timothy Spall, James Gammon) to rid a rancher ( Jeremy Irons), and his hoodlums (Lance Henriksen, among others). The villagers are suffering under the rule of the cruel Baronland. Virgil and Everett as lawmen are appointed deputies to bring peace and put some cartels warning that wearing of guns or other weapons in the little town is banned. Virgil meets a youngster widow named Allison (Renee Zellweger) and the problems emerge and complicate. But the town council afraid the raw methods carried out by the duo. Then the kingpin landowner appears and threats them.

This is a tremendously exciting story of a sheriffs-for-hire who had only one more killing to go. It begins as a slow-moving Western but follows to surprise us with interesting characters and solid plot. The tale is almost grim , a pacifiers come to a town just in time to make sure its citizenry but later the events get worse .Good modern Western with exciting battle of wits between obstinate marshals and an astute killer who begins to psych him out. Stylish, fast paced , nice performance, solid, meticulous and violent look with several shootouts .The highlights of the movie are the kidnapping and the climatic showdown at the ending. Phenomenal and great roles for Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen as veteran drifters and embittered gunfighters, they're the whole show. Vivid and lively musical score fitting rightly to action Western by Jeff Beal. Atmospheric and colorful cinematography by Dean Semler. The motion picture is stunningly directed by Ed Harris who is preparing its following, he also directed another good film titled ¨Pollock¨ . Watchable results for this outlandish Western.
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Two Smoking Barrels And A Promiscuous Dame
Chrysanthepop26 December 2008
Of recent times, the only Western movie that I liked was Kevin Costner's 'Open Range'. Now there's another one, 'Appaloosa' which is produced, written, directed and performed in by Ed Harris. The film pretty much has the ingredients of the 60s and 70s Western hits. It starts off a little slow but gradually picks up. 'Appaloosa' is more a comedy than an action but action movie lovers need not worry because there is plenty of that too, all 60's Western style. The dialogue is great and some of them are laugh out loud. The desert and mountainous visuals are stunning to look at. The two law-enforcement heroes, are brilliantly played by Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Harris is totally hilarious yet we sympathize for him when he falls hopelessly in love with the promiscuous never-to-be-faithful Ali. Mortensen is more restrained, reminding one of Clint Eastwood at times, but equally effective. I initially thought Renee Zellweger was cast as the typical love interest but man was I wrong. Here she is cast against type and the actress is simply great as she deceptively uses those innocent sweet girl looks to mask her frivolity and promiscuity. Likewise, Jeremy Irons is an excellent villain with a touch of comedy. Lovers of Western cinema wold enjoy this. This is most of all Harris's achievement as he scores high on all counts. Hope he makes more movies.
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3/10
I Expected A Better Movie.....
broc81615 October 2008
As Westerns go this is probably more typical than I would have liked. Though a very fine actress, I believe that Zellweger was the not right person for this particular part. She is great at loves stories but there was no love in this move between the characters – just a relationship of convenience. The movie would have actually been much better if the woman/marshal relationship had been totally cut out but then it wouldn't have been true to the book. Unfortunately, it just wasn't handled well and most viewers will see the weakness. You really felt no connection between the good guys and the bad guys – you really didn't care if any of them live or die. In fact the relationship between the characters is so tenuous that it sometimes seems there is none – just actors reading their lines. The problem was not the actors but the script and the connection to the audience. I knew it was somewhat of a dud when I started falling asleep toward the end and missed part of the movie. Considering I started watching it at 12:30 P.M. this says more about the movie than words can tell. I am reminded that in the movie Aliens, James Cameron did not shoot the scenes where the Marines are coming out of hibernation until the very end of the movie because he wanted them to have real camaraderie – which you feel between the characters. That is what this movie is missing from beginning to end – Camaraderie. It is just seems like scripts being read, which is too bad because you want a villain to hate and the good guy to love. You neither hate nor love in this movie -- you just kind of drift off…
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5/10
Vanity project....needs editing!
edward dardis7 January 2009
I saw this with 2 friends in the theatre, and we were all disappointed. One cliché after another, terrible dialogue, too long. Definitely a vanity project for Harris. I stayed to the very end to see who was singing the song for closing credits (Tom Petty) and then I hear another song with a familiar voice - it's Ed Harris! I knew it was him before I saw the credits! He can't sing. If that isn't a sure sign of a VP I don't know what is.

Terrible dialogue "I've known you a long time...as long as you've known me..." was actually repeated twice!

There was one good line, after a good "shoot 'em up" Everett says something like "that happened fast" to which Virgil replies, "that's cause everybody could shoot."

I agree with most of the other comments- it kind of went off the rails when Zellweger came into the picture.

Might be okay at home on DVD. 3:10 to Yuma was better.
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7/10
Not too bad overall, great ending
easleyrd15 November 2008
Things I Liked About It: 1. The theme song is awesome. 2. The characters are fascinating. 3. The ending was great. Probably the most satisfying ending of a western I have seen.

Things I Didn't Like About It: 1. The pace is sometimes slow, or else what was going on wasn't interesting enough - one or the other. 2. F Bombs. There are a few (which is probably the main reason for the R rating) and the F-Bomb was not in common use during that era. I don't know why Hollywood insists on using it, when it wasn't part of the vocabulary of the era. It's not authentic.

Overall summary I would say that although Appaloosa started out slow, and was at certain places dull, the way it ended was so satisfying it was worth it. If they made a sequel of this movie that somehow focused on Everitt's character I would definitely watch it. He was the most the most interesting character of all.
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4/10
Disappointingly ordinary western that marks Harris's directorial debut
davideo-21 March 2009
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

In the lawless town of Appaloosa in the mid west, reckless peace keeper Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) comes riding in. The town is in the grip of a villain named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) who forces his own sense of law on the people. Cole's no nonsense, unorthodox approach winds some people up, but he gets results and gets to enjoy a romance with new lady in town Allison French (Renee Zellweger) who comes to cause tension with him and best friend Everett (Viggo Mortensen) before he embarks on one last mission to take Bragg down for good.

The western is an old, forgotten genre that's been creeping out of the woodwork again with films like The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, 3:10 to Yuma and now this directorial debut from Ed Harris, who also takes on lead role duties.

This is his first film to make an impression as a director. It has the feel of being quite a personal film to him (perhaps most notable with the bizarre end credits sequence) and maybe he is quite fond of westerns himself. You have to wonder, then, why he's delivered such a bland and unremarkable piece that simply goes where you expect it to and offers little in the way of surprises. Appaloosa simply offers what any Clint Eastwood western from the '50s or '60s would have given you, without any particular flair or style. With material so weak, none of the cast deliver any exceptionally brilliant performances, with Harris, Mortensen, Zellweger and even a surprise appearance by Timothy Spall all just going through the motions. Irons re-appears out of nowhere as the baddie, but his over dramatizing just makes things even weaker.

There are one or two plus points. The cinematography and sweeping western landscapes are at times breath taking and beautiful and it's made with just enough affection and panache to mark it out. But this is still a disappointingly ordinary directorial effort from Harris. And you only get one chance to make a first impression. **
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Right Up My Street!
isabelle195511 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have always adored Westerns. My love affair with the genre started when I was about five years old and began watching Bonanza. A dining room chair became my horse as I rode the dusty plains of our house in a dull London suburb, the chair festooned with string reins and stirrups, Little Joe stirring my prepubescent heart. Bonanza was followed by Wagon Train, reruns of Gunsmoke, then The Virginian, Lancer and The High Chaparral. At the theatre Clint Eastwood reigned supreme, I read Zane Grey and I absorbed High Noon, The Searchers, Liberty Vallance and just about anything else on TV involving a horse and a man in a Stetson. Sad really…… Then I took up horse riding for real and knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I'd been born the wrong sex and a hundred years too late. I should have been a cowboy.

So I went to see Appaloosa ready to enjoy it. To be honest, this film would have had to be a complete dog not to get at least 8/10 from me.

And Appaloosa is a Western of the best kind; peopled by taciturn men, women with a past, unshaven outlaws with big guns, and simple but good hearted townsfolk. Ed Harris plays Virgil Cole a gun for hire lawman, while Viggo Mortensen is his sidekick Everett Hitch, a man of few words but a very, very big gun. Hired to clean up a small town in New Mexico (the Appaloosa of the title), Cole and Hitch take on Randall Bragg (a wonderfully grizzly Jeremy Irons) the local bad guy. Cole and Hitch are best buddies who cover each other's backs, but the appearance of Mrs French (Renee Zellweger) in town threatens to distract them from the job in hand. After arresting Bragg for murder and seeing him tried and found guilty, Cole and Hitch set off to take him to jail, but when Mrs French is kidnapped they are forced to release Bragg in exchange, and then to track the outlaws and the captive woman across country. Mrs French's morality is called into question – she will give her loyalty and her sexual favours to whoever she perceives as being Top Dog, but Cole weighs up the pros and cons and decides he loves her anyway. After all, she bathes every night.

Appaloosa tries to show the importance of the friendship between the men policing this tough frontier land, and the survival skills of the women who could never compete with the men physically but must try and make their own lives bearable.

The story is fairly simple and, as in all the best Westerns, it's a morality play where good and evil exist in plain view, where life is lived in black and white. Bragg is a murderer and a bully who has the town in his thrall, Cole and Hitch kill too, but where Bragg kills the defenseless and those who get in his way, Hitch and Cole kill in the name of the law, and prefer to arrest the baddie and send him for trial, trying to impose order on an untamed land. But the introduction of the alluring Mrs French with her wavering loyalties introduces more complex shades of grey to the scene. It tests the men's loyalty to each other, and suggests that we do whatever we have to do to survive in a world with no safety nets. I liked Zellweger in the part; she is attractive and sexy but doesn't play it as ridiculously beautiful or stick thin. She is attractive enough to turn heads in this small town, but doesn't look unrealistic. We know that any woman of truly stunning beauty would not be in this situation; she'd have been snapped up long before. Zellweger brings an air of brave and slightly knowing vulnerability to the role, rather than girly helplessness. She's a survivor, not a princess waiting to be swept off her feet for happy ever afters. In the end, Hitch does what a man must do to protect his friend, and, as in all the best Westerns, rides off alone into the sunset.

Directed by Harris, Appaloosa's beautifully shot, the landscape of New Mexico is stark and harsh. The dialog is very well written and often suffused with dry humour, all the performances are well nuanced, and I got the feeling it was a labour of love for all concerned. I thoroughly enjoyed it, (might even buy the DVD, a rarity for me!) and Ed Harris seems to be shaping up as an interesting director. My only slight comment might be that Viggo Mortensen plays yet another enigmatic man of few words. How often have we seen him do this now? Appaloosa, Eastern Promises, Hidalgo, LOTR, even his first role in Witness, all men full of meaningful silences and deep thoughts. I'm not saying I don't like these roles, I do. But I'd love to see him do something totally off the wall.
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2/10
This movie has absolutely no story, and after 2 hours, makes no sense (minor spoilers)
moostrength31 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
So I sat for almost 2 hours and watched this movie. You would think that with an all-star cast, an Ed Harris playing in another movie that he directed that it would soar and be a great flick. CNN.com said it was one of the best movies of 2008.

Trust me, after watching this movie, if you spent $20 on you and another person you are going to want a refund.

The positives are that the scenery is gorgeous, the set is fairly accurate, and the actors are first rate.

Unfortunately the story is weak. Without giving away too much in the way of spoilers, Ed Harris' character apparently wants revenge for the murder of a fellow colleague. And yet he is willing to be with a woman who apparently will sleep with anyone who comes across as the Alpha Male in any group. She flirts with everyone, sleeps with several men, and gives no reasoning as to why she behaves in this self destructive way.

The plot surrounding Ed Harris revenge is very weak. The gun fights are over too quickly, and there is too much drivel in this story. I realize that gun fights accurately aren't going to be that long, but there is no build up in any of the action sequences. There's no explanation as to why Ed Harris would care so much as to why one particular college's death would matter so much to him; especially when he seems to eager and nonchalant about killing others.

Viggo Mortensen plays the reserved, quiet, but educated partner. And yet for some reason, despite having sat through the entire movie never even raising his voice, he decides to have a gun battle with the protagonist in this movie, and rides off into the sunset.

I gave the movie a 2, because at least the actors are top rate big names, and the photography is decent. But the bottom line is, you will regret paying much to watch this movie. I would wait until it is in the cheap section and you have watched all the other movies this fall and winter and are desperate for something else. Ed Harris really needs to go back to the drawing board with this one.
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10/10
Nothing of the old soppy Clint Eastwood fantasies-- this seemed authentic! Grand cinema!
bopdog4 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For a non-fan of the Western genre, I must say I enjoyed this film! And, despite the fact that Appaloosa, New Mexico is actually almost 2,000 miles from the REAL "Palouse" (a prairie region on the Washington-Idaho border, and the source for the name of the famous horse breed, "a Palouse horse"; and eventually "appaloosa" horse), I got the sense of more or less authentic period settings.

One thing absent from this movie, which I found refreshing, was the lack of the old school movie logic of the tragic hero, and the whole Western theme. Those themes were fine, I guess, back in the day, early in TV, and way back in cinema history. But those themes also ring a bit false--- overly dramatic, in fact melodramatic, and as fake and sugary, in their way, as any Doris Day or Rock Hudson movie.

This film's theme seemed to me to be about how I'd do it. That doesn't make it real, nor better, of course. But it did, for me, ring true. Despite the Clint Eastwood - Steve McQueen - Yul Brenner history in movies, actual history (not the sensationalised 1800's novels and tabloid stories written by Easterners who never even visited the old west, let alone reported anything real) is closer to THIS film's portrayal.

The ending was just right SPOILER-- the bad guy was killed simply, and without fanfare. The hero buddies made the inevitable decision to part ways, but realistically. And the whores continued to ply their trades (I am referring to the "professional" whore, whose name I didn't catch, and the de facto whore played by Renee Zellwegger). Kind of mundane. Not heroic or poetic or pretty--- BUT, exactly as I, and maybe you, would have done.

Superb acting all around makes this a pure pleasure to watch!
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6/10
character driven western
MLDinTN2 August 2009
This is not your typical western. The characters are more developed and do a lot of talking versus gun slinging. But there are some gun fights along the way. Town officials of Appaloosa hire two gunmen, Cole and Hitch, to be the new sheriff in town. They want them to get rid of Randall Bragg, an outlaw that killed the previous sheriff. Widow, Allison French, shows up and you think there is going to be a love triangle, but there really wasn't much of one. She takes a liking to Cole, but also gives Hitch mixed singles. The two are able to arrest Bragg for murder and the latter part of the film is Bragg escaping and Cole finding him and trying to bring him in. In the end Bragg seems reformed. The side plot involving Allison is she seems to go after any man with power. So, before leaving town, Hitch does Cole one last favor since Cole says he won't leave Allison even if she fools around.

Ed Harris and Viggo Mortenson gave the best acting performance. You'd think they did come from the old west. The film does move slowly at times.

FINAL VERDICT: If you like westerns, then I would say you will find this movie worth your time.
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1/10
How to ruin a western in three easy steps.
uncertain21 February 2009
1. Turn your western into a love story. 2. Have the protagonist - a hired gun that rides into town from the dusty wastelands and is hired as a marshall to take on a local cattle rustler who lives above the law - fall in love with the town whore. 3. Fill an otherwise cliché, paint-by-numbers, fill-in-the-blank, textbook story of good vs. bad with pointless, extended musings on the nature of love and romance a la just about any chick-flick you can waste time and money seeing.

And, presto! There you have it! You've just ruined your first western - arguably the easiest movie genre to produce, direct, star in, and market. Congratulations, Ed Harris! You took High Plains Drifter and you ruined it.
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