I’ve already stated that I’m not a big fan of Westerns since so many share the same themes and character motivations. Revenge, outlaws, rogues with hearts of gold, and standing up for the defenseless are just a few of the western clichés that Silverado employs, but it puts them all together so entertainingly that I don’t mind as much. As Roger Ebert put it, “This is a story, you will agree, that has been told before. What distinguishes [director and writer Lawrence] Kasdan’s telling of it is the style and energy he brings to the project.” Considering Kasdan’s previous film was the well-cast The Big Chill (one of my VC’s favorite movies, not mine), I’d say he also has a knack for assembling impressive ensembles with good characterization as well.
Unlike so many other stock westerns with only one or two memorable characters, if that, Silverado has an excellent cast, including Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum (who were both in The Big Chill as well), Scott Glenn, a young Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Brian Dennehy, Linda Hunt, John Cleese, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! There’s also (Lost alert) the wild-eyed Jeff Fahey, who portrayed Frank Lapidus on my favorite show. While not every character is entirely developed, whether sympathetically or otherwise, every actor fills their role well enough to definitely be memorable.
Even though the film’s convoluted plot is full of the aforementioned clichés, it has some highly entertaining parts, like the canyon scene and the stampede rescue sequence. That being said, the final showdown between Cobb and Paden felt unoriginal and rather anti-climactic following a couple more inventive death scenes. All in all, Silverado is a fun, well-written, and fairly clean modern western that sadly didn’t quite revive the genre as much as some had expected. There’s a fine line between a cliché and a reinvention, and Silverado walks it pretty well.
Best line: (Cobb) “We’re gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: 7 Originality: 4 Watchability: 6 Other (brief language and anti-climax): -4 TOTAL: 36 out of 60
Next: #254 – Gettysburg
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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