This Film is NOT a Future Release.
The Following Preview has been Archived.
July 2nd, 2007:
In Arizona in the late 1800's, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe
) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Christian Bale
), struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the "3:10 to Yuma", a train that will take the killer to trial. On the trail, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each other's respect. But with Wade's outfit on their trail - and dangers at every turn - the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man's destiny.What to Expect:
As you may or may not know, this movie is a remake of the 1957 Elmore Leonard classic of the same name. At the time of its release, it was extremely well received by fans and critics alike for its suspense and cinematography. However, this is not the 1950's, westerns are not nearly as popular as they once were and the current audience is much harder to impress. Thus, I was extremely surprised to learn that James Mangold
was trying to parlay his acclaim from Walk the Line to remake Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. I thought, "An A list director at the top of his game and great actors gung-ho for a 50's western?" So I did what any hard core movie fan would do and sat down and watched the original. Article continues below
I was dreading watching this movie, a black and white western. I was expecting the stereotypical 1950's white hat cowboy taking on the black hat cowboy and black hat crew to protect the innocent, with very little character or story development. To my surprise, the movie greatly exceeded these expectations; it turned out to be a case study in human nature and a battle of morality between two strong characters. The film did have a couple of detractors. The first is that the entire story is driven by a series of unrealistic decisions by the characters which made the entire scenario a little far fetched. The second is that the movie has very little action, which is very uncharacteristic of a western. In order to make the remake work, the movie must address some of the inconsistencies of the original, add some cool action sequences of which the original lacked, and also be able to retain the spirit and depth of the protagonists. Can Mangold pull this off?
This has truly been a labor of love for the director. He first approached Columbia Pictures in 2002 in an attempt to get the movie made. At first Michael Brandt and Derek Haas were hired to write the script. However, after completing Walk the Line, Mangold decided to work with his writer from the Line, Stuart Beattie, to do a rewrite. He got so into this script that he actually did several versions himself. After four years of writes and rewrites, production was finally ready to begin. However, at that point Columbia Pictures had lost interest in the movie and cancelled production. Fortunately it was picked up on turnaround by Relativity Media, which simply means that Relativity Media had to pay Columbia for the development costs already incurred. The troubles did not end there for Mangold, on the first day of shooting there was an accident on set. A horse did not respond to a command by its rider and rode head on into a mounted camera. The rider was injured and recovered but the horse was not so lucky and had to be euthanized. This gave the movie a lot of bad publicity, especially among the ever vocal animal rights activists prompting an investigation by the Humane Society. Luckily the investigation found that the accident was just that, an accident.
Casting for this project was also no picnic. Originally Tom Cruise
really wanted the role of the villain, Ben Wade, which is easily the most dynamic roll in the movie. I do not think this would have really worked, as it is very difficult for Cruise as an actor to sell any character at this stage in his career since he has become such a character himself. Mangold avoided the Tom Cruise pitfall and instead decided to cast Russell Crowe for the roll of Wade. Christian Bale was then chosen to star opposite him as Dan Evans.
These casting decisions are probably the most important part of the movie. These two characters spend almost the entire movie verbally jousting in a psychological battle for each other's souls. Wade needs to convince Dan to let him go by any means necessary, ranging from simple logic, to bribery and threats. Meanwhile, Dan's character must stand true to his morals and principles even when all of his friends abandon him. It is crucial for Bale to be able to convey Dan's mental fortitude and moral strength for the ending of this movie to work.
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
At the end Wade chooses to board the train with Dan and face justice rather than see Dan get killed by Wade's pose.
***END OF SPOILERS***
Bale and Crowe definitely have the talent to sell us on both of the main characters, but will Mangold be able to translate his labor of love into a good movie? All early indications say yes!
Mangold definitely saw the same shortcomings in the script as I did and addressed them. In the new version, the action sequences seem to be a lot larger and more violent with all the big bang explosions modern special effects can afford. While in the original the action sequences were bland and small in scale, the remake has explosions, chases, shootouts, and machine guns; pretty much everything you need to keep our ADD generation happy. Mangold even made Ben's gang much bigger for the odds to be more overwhelming and the body count much higher than the original. Yet all the blinding action does not take away from the depth and chemistry of the two main characters. In addition, many of the good exchanges and memorable lines from the original were retained in the script. Mangold even covered a lot of the unbelievable aspects of the story that made the entire movie implausible. For example, in the original it was never explained why Dan was so good with a gun, while in the remake they point out that he was a civil war hero.In Conclusion:
Most modern remakes will take the original script and dumb it down, chop it up and make a movie that will sell to the general public, but in the end, disappoint fans of the original. Yuma is one of those few exceptions that will be better than its predecessor. If you are fan of westerns then this is a must see. And, if you do not like westerns, but are simply looking for an entertaining action movie with a great story and good acting than Yuma will not disappoint.Similar Titles: 3:10 to Yuma
, The Prestige
, Walk the Line