I just made 13 first-year university students watch the 1999 film version of Wild, Wild West, starring Will Smith and Salma Hayek, and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. I feel sort of guilty.
It’s a bad film. Even Roland Barthes would be challenged to find something meaningful to say about it.
It does, however, have some of the most overt, willful steampunk imagery of any film in the last two decades. Having watched it again, most of the groaningly bad parts seem like they’re trying to be playful, but failing. Steampunk’s a playful genre. That approach ought to work, but doesn’t.
I’ll post my student responses here later in the week.