Wild Wild West (film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
It's a whole new west, alright.

Wild Wild West is a 1999 Cattle Punk comedy film starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline. It is The Film of the Series of The Wild Wild Westtechnically.

The plot, taking place during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, concerns government agents Jim West and Artemus Gordon attempting to prevent a renewal of the Civil War by amputee Southern Scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless and his giant mechanical spider. Just roll with it.

The movie did well at the box office since it was helmed by Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld reuniting him with Will Smith. Critics however were on the fence about it since the film didn't resemble the TV show much (Will Smith being cast as the lead role especially sparked off backlash). Added to the fact the pacing is uneven and often times throws out information that would've been best known earlier (Jim's backstory for example). Adding insult to injury, it won the 1999 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture and Screenplay (with Robert Conrad, star of the TV show, picking them up as a protest).

That said however, the film was praised for its special effects and creativity of steampunk tools and often regarded as a Cult Classic just for its fun premise.

Tropes used in Wild Wild West (film) include:
  • Acting for Two: Kevin Kline as both Gordon and President Grant, including instances of Talking to Himself.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization explains how Jim West survived the 80 foot fall.
  • And Then I Said: Artemus, while discussing Rita Escobar.
  • And Starring: In one theatrical poster: "And Kenneth Branagh."
  • Armed Legs: Jim West's blade-equipped shoes
  • Artistic License: Biology: In the scene where Loveless first appears, he goes on a rant where he lists all the body parts he lost in the accident where he was left for dead, including 35 feet of small intestine; which is about ten more feet than the typical adult's small intestine.
  • Artistic License History:
    • An early scene shows the Capitol Building in Washington under construction; the actual building was completed in 1800, decades before the setting of this film.
    • A scene after that shows sheep grazing on the White House lawn. President Woodrow Wilson did that, but Grant did not.
    • At the end of the movie, West and Gordon become founding members of the Secret Service, an organization that, according to Grant, has the specific intent to protect the President. Which is, in fact, not the original purpose of the Secret Service, or truly the current purpose. The Secret Service has always been a branch of the U.S. Treasury tasked with investigating crimes involving counterfeiting and forgery, protecting the President is a secondary task. And there was no formal group who had such a purpose until 1901, in response to the assassination of President William McKinley.
  • Artistic License Physics: The trap neckbraces have some truly inconsistent magnetism (the braces only attract themselves after Gordon hits them with a stone, the buzzsaws they're attracting rarely go in a straight line...).
  • Batman Cold Open: Jim West and Artemus Gordon vs. General McGrath in the saloon.
  • Beard of Evil: Loveless has once of the most bizarre styles of beard in film history. Seriously, is that supposed to be a goatee? Whatever it is, it does make him look pretty evil.
  • Belly Dancer: Jim West as "Ebonia", in a last ditch attempt to stall the meeting of Dr. Loveless and America's enemies and kill Loveless.
  • Black Vikings: Jim West as a U.S. Army captain in 1869. Noted to be highly unusual.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: A Mook has swords that snap out of his wrists.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Amazonia, Munitia, Miss Lippenrieder and Miss East.
  • Briar Patching: Subverted. Artemus attempts to have Dr. Loveless capture him, dressed as Ulysses S. Grant, to lure him away from the real Ulysses. Loveless takes them both.
    • Also, when Artemus is caught and about to be executed, he begs to be "shot in my heart, which has loved this country so much" because he is wearing his prototype for a bullet proof vest. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.

Loveless: Shoot him in the head.
Artemus: Damn.

Loveless: "After all that, you missed?"
Gordon: "Actually I didn't."

West: That's a man's head...

West: That was not sleeping gas!
Gordon: No, the 8-ball is an incendiary bomb.

Gordon (chuckling maniacally) Oh ho ho, I see. Now I'm the "master of this mechanical stuff." As opposed to five minutes ago, when I was calmly and coolly trying to find a solution to this very problem. But then something happened. Someone, who will remain nameless...
(throws back his head and screams)

Dr. Loveless: I am a visionary! I am a genius! And now I am angry!

Gordon: [deadpan] And now we have to run.

Jim: That... is a man's... head.

  • Thong of Shielding: Miss East
  • Traintop Battle: Between James West and Loveless' Native American henchman.
  • Trap Door: On the command deck of Loveless' giant spider.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: The former Confederate soldiers have some at their meeting place.
  • Trigger Happy: Jim West.
    • Actually Lampshaded by the President: "And you, West. Not every situation calls for your patented approach of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two."
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Jim and a buxom lady in a water tower
  • Ulysses S. Grant: The president in charge. Artemus disguises himself as Grant twice.
    • Ironically, according to some historians, this film is actually one of the more dignified portrays of Grant on film, showing him as a tough, calm, and collected leader as he was in Real Life. Most film portrayals have either exacerbated his reputation for drunkenness or have thrown Grant into the background.
  • Underside Ride: Jim West does this, using a cart designed to let him move between the train they were on, and a chase train. Unfortunately, the rope connecting him breaks.
  • Universal Driver's License: Artemus Gordon has a Universal Pilot's License. Justified, since everything we see him driving was INVENTED by him. The only exception is the Spider Tank, which he did not invent and is seen having severe trouble with the first time he tries to steer it.
    • In fact, in the end as they ride off into the sunset on the Spider Tank, it looks like West is the one at the controls.
  • US Marshal: Artemus Gordon. Also Coleman, the train's engineer.
  • Villain Opening Scene: It starts with Colonel MacGrath and the death of a scientist.
  • Volleying Insults: West and Loveless do this at every opportunity; Loveless with a racist tone and West ridiculing Loveless' lack of legs and newfound shortness.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: The bottom falls out of Salma Hayek's pajamas.
  • Water Tower Down: How Jim West meets some former Confederate soldiers.
  • What a Drag: Gordon, holding a high-powered magnet, is pulled toward a railroad track and dragged through the desert sands on the way.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: Jim West's and Loveless' Volleying Insults.
  1. Ironically, this is one of the few aspects of the film that is true to the TV series, as Markowitz was never credited with writing the theme there either (long story).