Land o’ Goshen! It’s a good time to be a fan of the Western. With the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR 2) and the upcoming addition of Ashe to Overwatch, gamers can get a good idea of what it’s like to slip into the spurs of an outlaw.
‘Course if you’d rather sink some hours into shows than games, then the current season of The Walking Dead has that Wild West feel. You could also finally get ’round to watching the critically acclaimed Godless on Netflix or watch Westworld before we invariably get another season on HBO. Speakin’ of that premium channel, I hear tell that we might finally get that Deadwood movie next year. While there’s not many new Western movies to speak of, stick around and I’ll spill the beans on a few, as well as point out a few others that might pique your fancy.
But first… it’s high noon.
The latest cinematic released at BlizzCon has everything a Western fan could want: a train robbery, explosions, six shooters, a standoff and a spectacular shootout… right when the clock strikes twelve.
I was pretty hard on the D.Va animated short for not advancing the narrative, but it was mighty fine to see “Reunion” pick up the slack. We also got introduced to not one, but several upcoming characters — although only Ashe will be playable soon.
The addition of a new hero into Overwatch might be all it takes to pull the single-player gamers back into the world of multiplayer. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blizzard decided to include this new cowpoke ahead of some other impending heroes to take advantage of the hype around RDR 2. When I was at MegaCon, waiting to interview a cosplayer, I struck up a conversation with her significant other. He happened to work at Blizzard. He told me that, as an employee, he knows the next five heroes that they plan to release. Not that I’m complaining if Ashe is a claim jumper, just look at her character in action!
Her choice of weapon makes me think of The Rifleman or Quigley Down Under.
Although I was initially hoping for another tank character, I’m happy we’re getting another hitscan. That pesky Pharah flying about could always use another counter. As a Widowmaker main, it’ll be nice to have a character who can scope-in to shoot, while still being mobile. The fact that Ashe is another tough-as-nails female character makes the game all the better for it. Her use of dynamite might also help disrupt the current “GOATS comp” of three tanks and three healers that has become prevalent recently.
Speaking of throwing dynamite and shooting it midair for a tremendous explosion, I recently re-watched the 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma.
Poor Alan Tudyk can’t catch a break. He always seems to eat it after an escape, just like in the space Western, Serenity. It can be fun picking out actors you know in cowboy getup. I didn’t recognize him or Luke Wilson until I saw the movie for the second time this Sunday on Amazon Prime. There’s some great Westerns on Amazon. You can watch “The Man With No Name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood on there — McCree from Overwatch and Marty McFly from Back to the Future Part III would approve. I, however, grew up on John Wayne Westerns and I’d re-watched Big Jake on Amazon not too long ago.
After Eastwood and Wayne, it’s a might strange to see a Welsh actor (Bale) and a New Zelander (Crowe) star in an American Western. Not that they’re not great actors. Bale played a believable Batman, paving the road for the world we now live in where Englishmen play Doctor Strange and Spider-Man. 3:10 to Yuma wasn’t even Russel Crowe’s first Western. I still remember him in The Quick and the Dead.
Talk about an excellent supporting cast!
Characters portrayed by talent like Russel Crowe, Gene Hackman and especially the young Leonardo DiCaprio are so strong they steal the spotlight from Sharon Stone. This movie is tragically underrated. Besides the acting, it also looks visually amazing, thanks to the directing of Sam Rami (The Evil Dead, Spider-Man). Aside from this gold nugget, another Western from the 1990s that I’d recommend would be Tombstone — which also had an excellent supporting cast.
If you want a more recent Western that’s a TV show with an excellent supporting cast, I highly recommend Deadwood. Only three seasons long, it’s often cited as one of the best television shows ever. Now might be a good time to watch it, before the cast reunites for their HBO movie (hopefully as early as 2019).
Another show with a strong supporting cast — which is finally getting, not a movie, but a spin-off — is Penny Dreadful. It’s like what a League of Extraordinary Gentleman show would be like, if it were good.
Although it’s heavy with the supernatural, I mention it here because a large chunk of the Season 3 story takes place in the American West during the late 1800s. The spin-off show is reported to take place in Los Angeles in 1938. No word if we’ll see any of the original cast, but some of their characters have supernaturally long lifespans or otherwise can’t die.
Although 3:10 didn’t revive the genre in 2007, there’s still been a steady stream of Westerns in recent years. Some of note have been Appaloosa (2008), True Grit (2010 remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic), Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Bone Tomahawk (2015). Quentin Tarantino also contributed greatly to the genre with the release of Django Unchained (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015). The Magnificent Seven got a remake in 2016 and word around the campfire is that Young Guns is being eyed for a reboot.
Recent Westerns sometimes take place in modern times. I was one of the few who watched Wind River in theaters when it came out in 2017. The Dark Tower featured a gunslinger. I hear tell that Hell or High Water is quite the movie. But I’m gonna circle the wagons back ’round to James Mangold who, in addition to directing 3:10 to Yuma, also directed Logan.
Now regarded as one of the best superhero movies, Logan is also one of the best modern Westerns. Although the movie references the classic Western Shane, I remember the Old Man Logan comic being inspired by Unforgiven.
With that last mention, it’s about time I hit the ol’ dusty trail. Hopefully I’ve provided you with some insight and entertainment options as you hunker down for the winter. Take care now and so long, partner.