DC made a wise decision to couple lesser know DC characters with their big name movie releases. Tagged onto Batman: Under the Red Hood is Jonah Hex, and it’s certainly better than its live action equivalent.
Jonah Hex: Thomas Jane
Madame Lorraine: Linda Hamilton
Executive Producers: Sam Register, Bruce Timm
Producer: Bobbie Page
Co-Producer: Alan Burnett
Writer: Joe R. Lansdale
Director: Joaquim Dos Santos
Editor: Margaret Hou
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE OLD WEST…
Since it is base on a story by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Phil Noto there’s already groundwork in place to tell a compelling story. Jonah Hex (Thomas Jane) is after a new bounty, and when he arrives in a quiet western town, he’s tipped off that all is not right with Madame Lorraine (Linda Hamilton). Viewers discover that Madame Lorraine is pretty good at sizing up the rich marks, and putting an end to them just as quick.
Unlike the Under The Red Hood feature, there is a lot more titillation and violence in this short, and the fact that Joaguim Dos Santos treats this adult subject in an adult way is refreshing. When someone gets hit, they bleed, when they are burned, their skin doesn’t remain a porcelain canvas without any damage. Jonah Hex is a violent character and the movie reflects that throughout. There is a fair amount of misogyny in the story, and while that may be off-putting for some, it does reflect the characters and the time the story takes place.
Warner Bros. didn’t hold back with the actors in this piece. While Thomas Jane was passed over for the live action movie, his performance in this animated subject is exceptional and proves he could have been the man with the scarred face. Likewise, unless you are really paying attention to the credits, you might not realize Linda Hamilton is the big bad of the story. There is not a lot of dialogue in the film, but each line is delivered expertly – even Michelle Trachtenberg gets a line or two and each actor is able to breath life into these characters.
As is the style these days, most animated features are rendered with an anime look and Jonah Hex is no exception. The good news is we’ve been conditioned for years on the style, and the noses are not so sharp they look like they cut you. Each location is given an appropriate color palette, and an appropriate soundtrack ties it all together nicely. If there was one complaint about this piece is it could have been treated a bit more like a epic western of days gone past with a bit more Sergio Leone and a lot less generic film narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD SHORT
Like The Spectre before it, Jonah Hex is another short that hits it out of the ballpark in terms of creating a story that targets the intended audience, and doesn’t hold back. I don’t think Jonah Hex would lend itself to a full length animated feature, but once DC is done introducing a lineup of characters, they might want to create a follow up series of shorts for Jonah Hex and The Spectre. Jonah Hex is a good short story and one you really should watch if you’ve purchased the DVD.