copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Shane is a traditional old-fashioned hero movie. Stranger comes to the country; he is of course strong and shoots well; he protects the innocent. The bad guys are wholly bad, only becoming a little less bad to give more contrast to the ultimate villain.

The story is not complex. It is just about ranchers bullying settlers, centering on Shane's experience being with one of the families. There are no sub or side-plots, just the escalating conflict. The movie paces itself quite well and the story has a traditional and steady rise up to the climax. It was quite interesting and well paced.

The acting is a mixed bag, but there is a very clear culprit to point out.

There is a kid named Joey played by Brandon de Wilde. He is in this movie a lot as one of the main characters and he is absolutely terrible. Everything about his scenes is uncomfortable. The camera hangs on too long until he stops moving his eyes and says something. His delivery is excruciatingly fake. And maybe it is a sin to comment on an actor's looks but his buck teeth, squinty eyes and and giant forehead in combination with his manner of speaking just make him seem ...special.

Dialogue overall has ups and downs. There are parts that sound like they were written by an unschooled person for a comic book, and Joey is the concentrated juice of that style. Weird thing is, there are also moments when it suddenly gets deep and grown up.

The villain is really good though. Snake eyes, evil smile, everything about this guy is wonderfully psychotic. He is played by a certain Jack Palance who I thought was wearing some special mask for this movie, but that is actually the guy's real chin! In fact, this bad guy pretty much makes up for the boy's acting, but is unfortunately not given as much screen time.

The cinematography's alright, although has imperfections here and there like a noticeable cut in the middle of a scene or the day-for-night scenes (it was the CGI of those days wasn't it). I can tell at one point that a man whistles but the makers dubbed a word being said over it instead. Hoping no one would notice? Also, this is not a point against the film so much, but it is a point of contention. The motivations of the good characters are weird. The farmers are no fighters and have families. They insist on standing their ground against a number of armed men and the main character only seems to encourage this behavior, knowing the danger this brings to the families. It sounds increasingly more stupid and irresponsible as the movie progresses and things become more dangerous.

Have I mentioned I hate the kid? I really hate that kid.

Anyway, the film is a feel-good traditional western. It is a bit thick, but it makes sense and it is for most part enjoyable.