Two weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 120 followers! I had wanted to publish this post much sooner. But due to other blog posts that I felt had to be posted before the end of the month and technical difficulties related to the weather, this blog follower dedication review had to be put on hold. Fortunately, I now set aside some time to publish this important post! For my 120 follower dedication review, I chose a movie that was released in July of 2006. Originally, I was going to talk about Monster House. However, when I discovered that there were two Hallmark movies that were released in the aforementioned month and year, I decided to choose one of those films instead. Desolation Canyon is the movie that I ended up picking. Since I haven’t reviewed a Western film since Allegheny Uprising back in March, I wanted to see how Hallmark approached this particular genre. Films of this nature are rarely seen on Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. In fact, when it comes to stand-alone films, the last Western that either network created was JL Family Ranch from 2016. Despite this, I know that Hallmark has what it takes to tell stories from this genre, especially after watching programs like When Calls the Heart. Now, let’s see if Hallmark pulled off a good movie in this review of Desolation Canyon!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I was really impressed with the acting in Desolation Canyon! Before watching this movie, the only Hallmark film of Patrick Duffy’s that I saw was The Christmas Cure. In that movie, his character was more light-hearted, in order to fit the tone of that film. In Desolation Canyon, Patrick’s portrayal of Tomas had that same light-heartedness. But this time, his character was also tough and rugged, which was a good fit for the genre. Patrick was able to successfully bring both of these elements to his character, helping him to be a likable protagonist. Stacy Keach also did a good job at portraying the character of Samuel. Even though he has a tougher persona than Tomas, Samuel still was an honorable individual. Stacy was able to incorporate these aspects of the character through the believability of his performance. The rest of the cast brought the best of their acting abilities to their roles, keeping me investing in their on-screen stories!
The script: Desolation Canyon’s script was such a pleasant surprise by how well written it was! Anytime the three protagonists spoke to each other, their dialogue was witty and clever. In fact, all of the dialogue in this film sounded like real-life conversations. It’s also important to point out that the character development was well done. There was one character in particular who not only grew as an individual, but also pulled off a very effective plot twist. I’m not going to say which character it was, in case you haven’t seen this movie. But I thought this part of the film shows how good this movie’s script was!
The movie’s created world: Hallmark doesn’t create period films often. But, when they do, the network puts all they have into their projects. Everything in Desolation Canyon looked and felt like the time period this story took place in. Even the natural scenery felt like it fit within that cinematic world! The care for detail showed, as even smaller props added a sense of authenticity to the narrative. It tells me, as an audience member, that the creative team behind this film made the best effort possible to bring this world to life on-screen!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Under-utilized characters: Even though this movie had well-crafted characters, some of them were under-utilized. One example was Alejandra, who was the wife of Samuel. Since she was given an interesting backstory, I had assumed that she would serve a significant purpose within the overall narrative. Unfortunately, Alejandra didn’t really do anything besides keep Olivia, Samuel’s daughter-in-law, company. This disappointed me because Alejandra was both a well-written and well-acted character. It just seemed like all of the potential this character had was wasted.
A weak plot for the bandits: In Desolation Canyon, the group of bandits play a key role in the story. Their subplot, however, wasn’t as strong as their on-screen presence. For most of the movie, the bandits were primarily seen on their journey. The only things they talked about were the journey itself or about an injured member of the group. It wasn’t until about the last thirty minutes when the bandits receive any semblance of a plot. While the father-son relationship between Johnny and Abe was an interesting element, it felt like it had little connection to the bandits’ subplot. If anything, the aforementioned element should have been its own plot.
The inclusion of the bounty hunters: The story of Desolation Canyon featured two bounty hunters who, like the protagonists, were searching for the bandits. While these characters were interesting, they didn’t really add anything to the overall story. Throughout the film, these bounty hunters follow the protagonists in an attempt to seek revenge toward the bandits. But anytime they showed up, it seemed like they were there for the sake of plot convenience. If this part of the story was eliminated from the film, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
My overall impression:
Desolation Canyon is a much different Hallmark movie than what the network provides today. It doesn’t feature the usual tropes and clichés that are found in the romantic comedies that dominate Hallmark Channel. Instead, this Western is filled with interesting character development, action, suspense, and a story with stakes. Desolation Canyon was released in 2006, only five years after Hallmark Channel premiered. This was a time when movies had more creative freedom and thought outside the box. While I wish that Hallmark would go back to this kind of story-telling, I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to revisit the films of the network’s past. Desolation Canyon is a film that I found entertaining! There are things about the story that could have better. On the other hand, this movie had creative choices that I liked seeing. It amazes me how my followers continue to be supportive of 18 Cinema Lane! With that, I will end this review by thanking each and every one of my 120 followers!
Overall score: 7.4 out of 10
Do you like watching Hallmark movies? What genre would you like to see the network incorporate into their stories? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!