I was thrilled to hear news of a Deadwood movie happening. The TV shownever got an ending and been cancelled for over ten years. The 2019 HBO film, directed by Daniel Minahan, gives us that ending. It may not be the finale I was expecting or even wanted, but it gave fans closure. This is a very unique situation because it really isn’t a stand alone movie. I do not believe you could sit down a random person and tell them to watch “this movie called ‘Deadwood'” and they would know what is going on or enjoy it. But then again, it really isn’t for new people. It exists for the fans.
I was shocked by the amount of cast members that had returned. We knew Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane would reprise their roles (and we’ll get to them later) but also seeing the characters Charlie, Calamity Jane, Trixie, Ms. Elmsworth, Joanie, Sol, and the Doc return was a great inclusion. We even got smaller characters and cameos like Dan Dority, Tom, E.B, and Deputy Harry. Each of these characters get to finish their stories or contribute to the film in some small way. I know what they have been up to for all these years. And as stated, they aren’t all the stories you might have wanted either.
The HBO television show from the 2000’s was known for two things: a gripping tale about a group of people trying to survive in the dark world of the west, and swearing. The movie extends both of those elements. The story picks up a decade after the events of the season three finale. Gerald McRaney’s character, George Hearst, is a State Senator coming through Deadwood on a campaign of statehood for South Dakota. This event almost symbolizes the end of the wild west, and brings trouble to hte men and women who cannot live without that freedom. It also flushes out a lot of unfinished business. People are in trouble, some will die, and others will suffer. The two main characters Al Swearengen and Sheriff Bullock have to work together while toe the line of good and evil to keep the town in peace and serve some level of justice. Both actors, Ian and Timothy, slip right back into the roles as if they never left. They did such a great job facilitating the transition back into Deadwood after all these years. There are 3-4 main stories throughout the film and we do get to see the end of the era, but I still wanted more.
My biggest complaint is that the movie felt rushed. The first act was busy getting the audience caught up from the several lose ends of the show. I honestly forgot what happened and appreciated it. However, people binge watching the show today might find this unnecessary and wastes time. The second act deals with the actual stories, some of which are new and others caused by the lingering past of the show. The third act just shows up and I didn’t even realize the movie was over. It is a complete movie and I do think it was a fitting end, but I felt like some elements were not utilized enough. The movie’s biggest flaw is that it should have been several episodes. Some characters were heavily showcased, like Calamity Jane and Joanie, however other characters were barely in the movie at all. It may come off as selfish, but the revival would have served a better purpose in the form of a limited series instead of a movie. Something in the vein of Showtime’s Twin Peaks.
If you were a fan of Deadwood, you will watch this movie regardless. If you like westerns, swear-words, murder and sex, but have never got around to watching the show; now you can have the complete experience. Something like this is really rare. There are so many shows that get cancelled without ever getting a chance to say goodbye to their characters. I hope the Deadwood movie starts a trend that more production companies follow. It isn’t just nice for the fans but I feel it is equally positive for the creators. The writer of the original show, David Milch, got to complete his story and the history of Deadwood is better off for it. I can see how some people might not have liked the movie, they’re probably a bunch fucking cocksuckers anyways.
Movie and show watched and review written by: Troy Smith