Its good intentions make it feel petty to be too hard on a film like West of Thunder, a small drama concerning the oppression of a Native American tribe in 1899—even more so when profits from its screenings support the building of a K-12 school that will serve said Native American tribe. But good intentions aren't art. Opening with a dramatic narration that might remind you of being a tortured student in your last-period class, West of Thunder is 84 minutes of an extended high school drama-class project that includes history lessons, incongruous literature lectures, and much awkward dialogue interspersed with shots of natural landscape and sprinting animals. All of these revolve around Henry Seed, a spirit "that enacts supernatural retribution among the cowboys who have persecuted the Lakota tribe. With lines like "This is the type of toast that keeps me on my toes" delivered in a tone more appropriate for a Dos Equis commercial, it becomes increasingly hard to take what is unraveling as a serious film. As far as the other characters go, they seem to break out in a storytelling trance every few scenes or so. Musical performances are also sprinkled throughout for good measure because, why not? For what it's worth, West of Thunder is not a tedious watch at all. In fact, it is oddly absorbing, just not the way writer and star Dan Davies probably meant it to be.
Jody Marriott Bar-Lev, Steve RussellDan Davies, Clifford Henry, Corbin Conroy, Steve Garcia, Larry Swalley, Albert Red-Bear, Michael Worth, Raffaello Degruttola, Crispian Belfrage, Sadie KayeDan Davies, Jody Marriott Bar-Lev