For those of you who don’t know, there is a rich history in Eternal where I must review Western movies in order for expansions to be released. This, of course, started with Omens of the Past, where I reviewed Lonesome Dove, followed by my review of Tombstone leading up to the release of the Dusk Road. The reason for these reviews is so obvious that I don’t think it is necessary to spell it out. Still, for Fall of Argenport it seemed like my services would not be needed. After asking Scarlatch in the main Eternal discord a number of times if there was a movie I should watch, he never gave me an answer. Maybe it wasn’t necessary this time? Maybe he was too busy working on fixing the game after the patch? Maybe my efforts as a preening mafficker were not desperate enough?
That was, until, he contacted me on Thursday night.
Of course, I’m willing to do what is necessary to defend Eternal from Russian hackers. A grave responsibility had been entrusted to me. Now, I carry out my mission.
The movie starts with an entire family being murdered by natives. We are watching the family carry out mundane tasks, and a band of natives swoop in and start shooting everyone for no obvious reason. The only one to survive is the mother, who only lives by hiding in the woods, only after her baby son is shot in her arms. I can already tell that this movie is going to be a feel good flick, like a romantic comedy or a buddy cop film.
After this we cut to Christian Bale, who is in an army uniform, and is roughing up some natives. We can see pretty quickly that he does not like his work as brutal enforcer of subjugating native folk, but you do what you’re good at! Upon returning to his fort we learn that “Joe” is close to retirement.
(Side note: why are these guys always close to retirement, or past retirement? In all of the Westerns that I’ve reviewed, they main character is never a bright chipper noobie? Is there some sort of weird age limit in the old west that everything interesting needs to happen after you has spent at least 20 years on the frontier? Maybe the old west needs a better tutorial to retain new players? *shrug*)
Joe is brought into his commanding officer’s office, where he is told that for his last job he is to escort Chief Yellow Hawk to Montana. Chief Yellow Hawk is an old rival of Joe’s, who has been in prison for some time. Now, Chief Yellow Hawk is dying of cancer, and has asked to be returned to his home, which the commanding officer agreed to for… reasons. Joe kicks up a fuss about this, going off about how Yellow Hawk killed his friends, yadda yadda, but once the commanding officer threatens to court marshal Joe and take away his pension, he is forced to make a choice. This choice reminds me of:
In that both options suck. After an overly-artsy scene where Joe hangs out in a field being all emo, he decides to take the chief and his family to Montana.
The next day he gathers up his crew. Among them are one of his old friends, a drunk by the name of Thompson who looks kinda like this:
An incredibly neutral soldier who looks like this:
A black soldier who looks like this:
[Placeholder for Eternal art that includes a black male]
And a young solider who looks like this:
Well, he doesn’t actually look like that. He more looks like someone who is going to die. After watching a few Westerns, I have learned that if there is a dweeb looking kid without a developed backstory he is probably not living to half way through the movie.
Anyway, off they go. A short distance outside of town they come by the house of that family I mentioned at the top. The mother/wife of the family is still hanging out in the burnt out remains of her house, sitting beside the bodies of her dead children. She is clearly bat shit insane, but, who can blame her? Joe and his team help her out by burying the bodies and bringing her into the caravan. They also note that the band that did this are probably still in the area.
**THIS IS VERY SUBTLE FORESHADOWING**
A couple days later, this band of natives comes and attacks the caravan. WHAT A SURPRISE! The encounter starts with the young soldier being shot. SO MUCH SHOCK! They exchange gunfire, a couple of the attackers are killed, the black soldier is injured, but the majority of the band gets away, but will obviously be back.
This brings us to one of my favorite moments in the movie.
Did…. did he not see the horses? I don’t see anything blocking the view. Did he need to get that close to see the horses? If so I would be really friggin’ concerned about his ability to lead this crew to Montana. I am honestly totally clueless as to what happened so that NOW Joe is suddenly very worried about these horses. Kinda reminds me of this:
Some people don’t think Rizahn is very good. I don’t understand how people could be so blind to not see his power, similar to how I don’t understand why Joe couldn’t see these horses.
Anyway, turns out that the group of natives that had been harassing them were killed. Apparently the older guy who was part of the squad had let Yellow Hawk and his son go during his time on night watch. They found this band of natives in night, killed them, then returned to camp by morning. This choice reminds me of another card:
In that things could have gone horribly. What if these guys decided to try to escape? Or take out the soldiers? Or team up with the “bad guy” natives? Or they could have died during their attempted raid, making this whole operation a waste of time? Seems like a play that only works out when you are really lucky, and your opponent has no idea what they are doing, much like this card.
Shortly after they make it to the first town, where they bring the black soldier to the doctor, and attempt to drop off Mrs. Quaid (crazy lady, who has mellowed out considerably) so they can continue traveling to Montana. The commander of the town asks them to take a convict with them to the next town. As they are packing up the next morning Mrs. Quaid decides to come along with them anyway. None of this made any sense to me. This convict is going to be hung, so why carry around this dead weight? Wouldn’t it just be easier to hang him here? Why is Mrs. Quaid coming along? There is some line about feeling more comfortable with Joe, but doesn’t it seem like a massive inconvenience to bring her along? Not to mention that it is unbelievably dangerous. From my experience with Westerns it is clear that these people were not exactly great at making reasonable decisions.
As we get back on the road, we learn that this convict is actually an old war buddy of Joe’s. This guy is guilty of murdering a family of natives, and clearly has a burning hate for all “savages”. He is pretty pissed to see Joe treating Yellow Hawk with more dignity than he is afforded. This made me think: why is Yellow Hawk even alive? If he was some butcherous leader in the past, why didn’t they hang him when they captured him? Not that I am some advocate of the death penalty, but why keep him in prison for years and years, especially on the frontier, where supplies are costly? After thinking about this for a while, I came up with the only reasonable explanation:
Yellow Hawk clearly has aegis. They thought about killing him, but realized that they would need to use two removal spells, and decided it wasn’t worth it. Makes perfect sense.
After leaving the town, and a violent encounter with some trappers, the team get slammed with some serious rain. The old drunken friend Thompson finally loses it in the middle of the night, tells Joe something like “you’ve been a good friend”, gives a cigarette to Chief Yellow Hawk, and walks away in the pouring rain. I can relate. Sometimes when I am reaching that 80% mark in a set review with SirRhino things get a little crazy. I say to myself “Maybe I should just leave. Drop this. Run away from it all. Set up a new life in the middle of the woods.” I imagine that is a pretty normal response to the circumstances, but I snap out of it and finish up the review, rather than wonder off into the wilderness toward my imminent death.
Apparently the movie has decided to have a plot all of a sudden, as more we get more stuff actually happening that same night! The rain is still pouring, and generic-soldier-guy goes to check up on the convict, who is chained to a tree a few dozen feet from the main camp. He pulls the oldest-trick-in-the-book, where he starts coughing and wheezing, so generic-soldier-dude unchains him, at which point the convict proceeds to beat the soldier to a pulp, steal his gun, and shoot him. As I said above, this is a cheery and happy movie. This reminds me of:
As in, those who do have a gun can kill those who don’t have a gun, and those who don’t have a gun better get one.
At this point – 1 hour 40 minutes into the movie – I was thinking, hey, it might finally pick up!!! We might get some action! Maybe convict guy meets up with some highwaymen friends of his, and they come back to get vengeance on Joe’s squad! I’m not sure why I deluded myself into this, since this movie is very clearly not about action and plot. After the crew leaves their camp they run into the bodies of convict guy and Thompson, who apparently ran into each other in the storm. It looks like Thompson killed convict guy, and then killed himself. As I said above – cheery and happy movie. Fun for the whole family.
At this point it is clear that we are close to Montana, but Chief Yellow Hawk is closer to death. He dies just before they reach their destination, so they decide to bring him the rest of the way and bury him. When they get to their final location we get what must be one of the stupidest stand-offs I have ever seen. Just as Joe and company are finishing burying the body in what looks like an entirely random field a group of cowboys ride up. There is an older gentleman and 3 middle aged guys, none of whom look particularly friendly. The conversation went something like this:
Old Guy: Hey, get off my land, and take that body with you.
Joe: This is his rightful burial place.
(The basis on which this particular land is the “rightful” burial place unclear)
Old Guy: I don’t care, get off my lawn land! I’ll shoot you!
Joe: I have this order from the president!
(He does have an order from the president, but we have no reason to believe that Chief Yellow Hawk needs to be buried in this exact spot)
Old Guy: I DON’T CARE!!
Joe walks away looking annoyed.
Old Guy: I’m not going to ask you again!
Joe pulls out his gun and walks back towards the cowboys. While this is happening Mrs. Quaid pulls out a rifle and moves behind a tree to the right of Joe.
Old Guy: I’m not going to ask you again!
(Notice that he already said that he wasn’t going to ask again)
Shoot-out begins with Mrs. Quaid shooting one of the cowboys.
Let’s take a few moments to break down all the brain-dead decisions that happen here. First off, I have no clue why Chief Yellow Hawk needs to be buried in this exact spot. Montana is a big place! I don’t get the impression that this precise location has any special meaning. Why not just bring him to be buried some place that isn’t on the land of a bloodthirsty crazy old bastard? Speaking of bloodthirsty crazy old bastards, what is that guy’s problem? You barely introduce yourself before you start threatening to shoot people! Why do you care so much if this native is buried here? I imagine this guy probably has hundreds of acres of land, so why does this matter? Both these guys need to take a chill pill. This reminds me of a certain Fall of Argenport card:
Why problem solve, when you can just blow sh*t up?
Aside from Joe and Old Guy both being murderous divas, the actual execution of the shoot-out makes no sense at all. Let’s say I’m Old Guy, and I have just been threatening to kill Joe. Joe then proceeds to pull out a revolver and start walking towards me. What do I do? I PUMP HIM FULL OF LEAD FOR JEKK’S SAKE! Do you think he was coming to give you a hug? Let’s also note Mrs. Quaid pulling out a rifle and getting in position behind a tree. This wasn’t some stealthy manoeuvre, where the cowboys would be unable to see what she was up to – it was clear as day! And they just let her get into position? Also, none of this mentions what the native family were doing. They just stand there as these white guys yell and point guns at one another. Maybe they could have hidden behind something? Get some cover in the case of some cross fire? Got into position in the way Mrs. Quaid had achieved so effortlessly? Nope! Just stand there in the open, which obviously leads to some of them being shot in the crossfire. Ultimately, everyone dies but Mrs. Quaid, Joe, and the native child. From here they bury the bodies, there are a few scenes of Joe and Mrs. Quaid staring at each other awkwardly, and they all move to Chicago or something.
Hostilities is decent, but is incredibly emo for a Western. There is shocking little dialogue, and not even that much action. There is a lot of knowing stares, slow motion panning over the landscape, and other forms of plodding visual story telling. Don’t believe me? Let’s watch an uncut clip from the movie where there is a full 2 minutes with no dialogue, action, or relevant forward movement in the plot. This happens right after Joe is told he needs to escort Yellow Hawk (the “overly-artsy” scene I mentioned above). I have added my own background music, which I think is fitting for the tone of the movie.
This even goes on a few seconds longer. I don’t imagine there are not a ton of 2 minute long stretches were nothing happens, but there are lots of 30 second or 1 minute interludes where we get super emo moments like this. If you like visual story telling, outdoor vistas, and a brooding Christian Bale, well this movie is perfect for you! If you like movies with things like plot, character, romance, suspense, action, comedy, or dialogue, you better look elsewhere. The movie really reminds me of this card:
In that you kinda want it, but it take so long for you to get what you want, and by the time you actually get the stuff that you do want, things move so slowly that it is barely worth the effort.
I could go off specifically about the politics/moral of the movie, but it is honestly not worth it. There is clear suggestions and hints to broader topics, but the depth of that exploration is extremely half-hearted. You don’t score points for edgy takes like “don’t do the racism” or “maybe genocide was a bad thing?”. All that content has the approximate depth of a kiddie pool, so I am going to just pretend it wasn’t in the movie, because I fear actual digging into it will set me on tilt.
(In all honesty, I enjoyed the movie, even if I found the pacing frustrating. It was like a Sophia Coppola film with a couple of action scenes, but with a dull soundtrack)
THAT’S IT! I should be full bore into set review season shortly after this comes out. Hopefully you enjoyed this extremely important review. I think my efforts have reversed the worst of the Russian hacking efforts. This article will also help with the release of set 4 for…. reasons! I would link you to where you can get the movie, but I seem to have lost my connection to the “extremely legal streaming service” page, so you should look it up on your own favorite “extremely legal streaming service”. Be sure to share your thoughts on this important topic in the Reddit thread!