Welcome to part 2 of the Western With A Twist Blog series, setting the mood for the upcoming release of Beneath the Canyons, Book 1 of my high fantasy-western series Daughter of the Wildings. This time: movies and TV. (Part 1, Books, is here)
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First of all, if you're talking about TV and movies that are sci-fi or fantasy with a western twist, or western with a sci-fi/fantasy twist, you have to include Firefly on the list. I don't know how much I need to say about it, except adventures in space with a wild west feel - guns, fortune-hunters, independent-spirited people trying to make a new start in wide-open territory not necessarily on the right side of the law. I haven't seen the entire series yet, but what I've seen I loved. And, of course, there's the companion movie, Serenity. [Amazon]
Possibly the next most obvious entry is the old TV show, The Wild Wild West. Basically James Bond in the old west (the main character is Jim West; get it?), with lots of cool gadgetry, it also has elements of science fiction and alternate history, and is sometimes considered a forerunner of steampunk. I don't remember watching it as a kid, although I do remember the little animations between segments, but there are some episodes on YouTube so I've been watching those lately. Lots of fun. There was also a 1999 movie version which gets pretty bad ratings, which is too bad because with Will Smith and Kevin Kline you'd think it would be good. [Amazon]
Next up is one of my favorite movies, High Plains Drifter, with Clint Eastwood. Spaghetti western about a Man With No Name who comes into a desolate western town, uncovers its dirty secrets, and punishes it for a long-ago crime. Is he just a wandering Stranger, or is he something more? (The link goes to Rotten Tomatoes because the Wikipedia article was written by someone with a definite bias against the movie. :P) [Amazon]
Finally, while we're on the subject of movies, we can't forget Cowboys and Aliens, which I haven't seen but I love the idea. Critical reaction seems to be mixed; some reviewers love it, others just don't seem to get it. [Amazon]
Next up are two of my favorite anime series. Cowboy Bebop is set in space in the near future, after Earth has been made mostly uninhabitable by a natural cataclysm and mankind has moved to Mars. Lawlessness and corruption are rampant, providing plenty of work for bounty-hunting "cowboys" like the crew of the Bebop: Spike, wisecracking gunslinger/martial artist and refugee from the criminal Syndicate; Jet, tough but tender-hearted owner of the Bebop; sexy Faye, a woman without a past; Ed, the 13-year-old hacker girl, and Ein, the super-intelligent Welsh Corgi. Science fiction/space opera with a definite Wild West feel, an awesome jazz soundtrack, and the famous tag line, "See you, space cowboy." [Amazon]
Trigun is also set in space, on a desert planet where spaceships evacuating humans from a ruined Earth crash-landed. With the destruction of the ships, technology has, for the most part, gone back to the level of the late 19th/early 20th century (with a few things salvaged from the ruined ships and, of course, the Plants that provide the planet with power and water). The society is wild and lawless, and the most wild and lawless of them all is Vash the Stampede, the Humanoid Typhoon, the outlaw gunslinger with a $$60,000,000,000 bounty on his head. Vash believes in Love and Peace, but a darker destiny hounds him across the planet. Along the way, he meets up with a series of renegades, bandits, bounty hunters, and desperados, an intinerant priest who's more than he appears to be, asssorted lovely ladies, and two "insurance girls", investigators assigned to make sure he doesn't prove to be the ruination of the insurance company. [Amazon]
I like to think that Silas Vendine, the hero of Daughter of the Wildings, has a little bit of Spike and Vash in him :)
Cowboy Bebop has bounty hunters, and Trigun has a character with an enormous bounty on his head, and the two come together in possibly the greatest anime music video ever made, Tainted Donuts. To finish off this post, sit back and enjoy some animated Wild West in Space action!
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