8 Magnificent (recently-made) Wild West Movies16.12.2019, 13:08
There are tons of ‘classic’ western films made in the 40s to the 70s, including John Wayne epics, numerous essential ‘spaghetti westerns’ and of course those starring young Clint Eastwood as the cheroot-chewing, slow-moving, nameless bounty hunter. Youtube is littered with some of their finest scenes, and Amazon has them all. Some good news: if you collect enough points by completing our mini-tasks, you can get free Amazon voucher codes right here at Prizes Drop.
So many of these old westerns stand the test of time and are as exciting as the day they came out, thanks to their wild backdrop in a special period of history that needs no special effects or CGI. It’s all about character, rounding up the bad guys (or maybe not-so-bad-guys) and wondering who will make the next wrong move and suddenly... be eating dust.
The wild west was the ideal playground in which to trap audience attention, and play out our sense of expectation and tension for as long as possible. Music also played a pivotal role, punctuating moments and hinting at the nature of the next.
These days we have the Red Dead Redemption open-world video games to bring us even closer to living out the ‘cowboys and indians’ fantasy games from childhood.
And still... every so often Hollywood feels the urge to go back with a stand-out script or a new film technique and try to update, re-write, or just get closer to the history of the old west once again. Sometimes the results are crude, but in many cases the re-visit pays off, as the gritty setting highlights or challenges characters, questions modern beliefs or outlooks, and makes for thrilling action, intriguing plot turns with endings that make you think hard.
We’ve put together this round-up (with links to Amazon and YT trailers) of some of the top western movies made since 1980. None of them are in any order, as they’re all quite different and are all as good as each other, and can stand on their own two feet.
They should all be watched and enjoyed when you get a chance, so be sure to bookmark.
Featuring a line-up of some now well-known (and still acting) actors, this movie has a great script where each character (many interesting and different ones) has room to breathe and develop. It’s also perfect as a family movie, with some surprising, memorable moments and scenes. Kevin Costner also stood out for the first time, before moving on to similar, and greater projects (below).
Kevin Costner made his name in this long but oscar-winning, engrossing epic of one man’s encounter with the ‘frontier’ where Indians were much feared but little understood. Getting stuck in the middle of two cultures is never easy, especially not at this time in American history. There’s plenty of action in between this tale of new allegiance.
A wanted, renown bad-man called Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) must be escorted to the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. However, a rancher and struggling family man needs the money and finds himself in hot water by volunteering to join the posse tasked with this mission. It’s a brave move, but it might bring security to his family and restore his pride.
What’s interesting is that in the end, it’s not through shooting and bravado that we reach the ending, but it becomes more about human empathy and respect.
That’s what you’ll be if you miss Clint Eastwood’s return to the genre. Although it wasn’t quite how many would have expected him to return. He brought back more realism and some very unforgiving solutions to the problem of high-level corruption in a small town. It’s no action western, but it’s once again a testament to his magnetic screen presence.
Another host of familiar faces including Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer all get room to tread the boards and breathe life and character into otherwise typical western elements that could so easily have been dull. But the film balances energy and emotional depth as it moves towards its final historical showdown with escalating tension, fun and significance.
The setting and characters here centre around the period when slavery was common on large plantations in the south. However, Tarantino applies his style and 'panache' to the project, and his love of revenge stories. As usual, he clearly has some fun with developing the events, discourse and complementing the underlying (mythological) theme with top music. Get ready for some class acting, a bit less violence than usual but as a bonus, he cuts out a lot of the meandering and slowness that pervades his earlier films, giving us a pacier dish of rich spaghetti.
This Netflix production is in fact 'an anthology of six short films that take place in 19th-century post-Civil War era during the settling of the Old West.' But we're also in Coen Brothers territory, so we get the usual realistic or unexpected violence, mature themes, black humour and originality (just what the Wild West needs in fact).
It’s another Quentin Tarantino movie, make no mistake, but he makes his 8th movie with another great nod to westerns, this time mixing it with a detective aspect, and his inimitable style and familiar trademarks. It simply plays with your expectations until the last frame: you just can't guess what will happen next, which is still what's so captivating and refreshing about Tarantino's films, if you can stand the violence too, that threatens to enter any scene at any moment.
An honourable mention must go to the 80s Young Guns movies starring Emilio Estevez, as these are still great fun and a thrilling take on the whole Billy the Kid legend.
Stay tuned for more round-ups of film genres. If you’re ordering any of the above via Amazon, the good news is that here at Prizes Drop we offer free Amazon vouchers for those collecting enough of our points for completing a range of mini-tasks.