20th Sep2021

‘Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Drew Hirschboeck, Jeffrey T. Smith, Miranda Byers, Lyle DeRose, Tim Atnip, Rodrigo Tactaquin, David Iannotti | Written and Directed by Clay DuMaw

Imagine possessing unlimited power in the form of a pistol that never misses. When Jack Wyatt (Drew Hirschboeck), a gold miner, discovers a cursed weapon – the titular Gun From Hell – his world flips upside down. Little does he know that a gang of outlaws, led by the evil Thane Maddox (Jeffery T. Smith), is searching for the notorious gun and will do anything to take it. Now Jack must team up with the mysterious gunslinger, Rose (Miranda Byers), to save himself and his hometown.

Inspired by the likes of Sin City and 300, the Hollywood blockbusters that cleverly combined excessive visual effect, green screen and traditional filmmaking techniques, Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell is a one-of-a-kind visual experience shot on a green screen in Colorado Springs with digital environments built from scratch. Yes, you read that right… EVERYTHING (apart from the actors and props) has been created digitally by the film’s writer/director and producer Clay DuMaw on on a home computer with virtually no budget. Which to be fair to DuMaw and his film, is an amazing achievement for a truly independent filmmaker.

Such a shame then that Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell doesn’t really work as a film and stands more as a proof of concept that shows what can be done using computer technology; ultimately an example of why this kind of filmmaking probably isn’t the future of filmmaking. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good CGI-based movies that are a lot of fun – including Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Bunraku to name two in particular. But both of those films aimed themselves squarely at the fantasy crowd and both were highly stylised. A Western, even one the has a fantasy-themed element such as this, doesn’t really lend itself to CGI filmmaking… the wide open plains of the old west getting lost on the flat, almost two-dimensional, appearance of green screen and CGI.

If, perhaps, Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell had leaned even further into fantasy, making this look and feel even MORE like a live-action comic book (which is exactly how Sin City was presented) then the computer generated imagery might have worked. Instead it just feels that the appearance of this film is the antithesis of how a Western, and the genre as a whole, should look.

Apparently a five-year passion project for Clay DuMaw, it’s clear that there’s something too the story – it feels akin to something we’ve seen on the likes of Syfy’s Van Helsing, a kind of genre-bending take on the Western that throws in fantastical elements to raise it above the traditional genre film. Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell is also a great example of experimental filmmaking, however the final product is, unfortunately, not much more than that. This is a case of great story, not so great execution.


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