Hell on Wheels review won’t be the same kind you used to get. A simple and short review about the movie.
Because this time, I am finally bringing the series review for the first time. A request that comes from not many but just a few. That just about accurately corresponds to the number of fans of this blog.
Although few are very much appreciated.
This is going to be one of the hardest series reviews I have done. Considering there were freaking 5 seasons of the series and each episode taking more than 40 minutes.
Hell on Wheels is in short a western movie that is about a transcontinental railroad. And the hell people involved had to go through.
Whether this is accurate historically or not won’t be our concern as always.
This Hell on Wheels review will be focusing on just the series and what they give us as such, not on how historically accurate the show is.
My research on the historical accuracy suggests it is pretty damn accurate with some of the aspects a bit over the top and tends to embellish while some are to the point.
So, the series will fit you well whether you are a history buff, or just looking for some entertainment.
Without much of a drag, let us get to it.
The review will be in 5 parts to correspond to each season. However, there will be one final piece. That is where I will summarize my points and give an overall score with my two cents.
Hell on Wheels Review – Season 1
When the series came out, there wasn’t much marketing or anything. It was aired on AMC as a western-drama where it gradually got its audience and gained popularity.
This season was created by Joe Gayton, and Tony Gayton, who also wrote the scripts. The actors were Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Robin McLeavy.
The show got nominations for 1 primetime Emmy, and won 20 other awards and another 34 nominations.
So, it is safe to say it was a successful first season. Indeed it was, as I agree. However, it was not phenomenal. It is entertaining and good enough to hook you in, but hardly blows your mind.
There are many cliches and banal characters, but somehow you won’t know how the show wooed you. Because you find yourself dazzled and enjoying it.
The movie does have a solid intriguing premise and interesting take on revenge. From the very first season, the series makes it clear that it is profoundly about racial tensions and racism overall at that time.
It comes into play in almost every other episode of the series even in the future seasons. I don’t feel like going through everything in detail, and leave not much to discuss in the upcoming seasons.
However, it is impossible to move on without mentioning the acute attention to detail and the world-making that looks and feels as realistic as it gets.
You really travel back to that time. And if you were binging like I did. When you come out of your apartment, you kind of lose the sense of reality a little bit.
It shocked me to see the cars and the clothes people were wearing after watching it for a non-stop 10- hour session of watching two seasons at once.
- Cullen kills 14 people within the first season only.
- Being covered in blood and mud for elongated periods of time.
- In fact, the highlights kind of relate to each and every season in a way.
Hell on Wheels Review – Season 2
Season two in short is everything, season one is only better. In fact, there are many mistakes and missed plot holes and the lack of attention on the main hero in the first season.
The second season fixed it all and improved upon it. Indeed, if you sat through, or perhaps, lied through season one, like many of us :).
The second season is what gets you and hooks you with the series for all the upcoming series in the future.
The western-ness of the series comes out as a proud genre and with it, the genre specific jargon and the jokes which sometimes elevate the serious tone of the movie.
Sometimes, shows struggle with identifying the core character flaws and their strengths of their secondary characters of the plot. Hell on Wheels goes through the same with a varying degree with each character.
Although the main character seems way more rootable than the first season. It is not at all perfect, yet good just enough to get you to the third season.
However, if the main character barely carries you over, the other characteristics of the movie definitely will with ease.
For example, the acting, the cinematography, the direction and everything else about the movie making process is truly exceptional.
The very best part, or perhaps the aspect of the movie that is truly worth the praise is how well they manage the relationship among the characters and motivation based speeches.
There are no macguffins or unnecessary plot points stuck in for the sake of showcasing an actor or a political view. That makes it almost like a fun, entertaining show to learn something from.
Hell of Wheels review praises the works of director and the actors for such an amazing season two. The binge definitely was worth it.
- It is hard to call what the series already has a highlight. But in the time of the series, changing plots and directions and characters, staying true to the origins of the season is really a highlight. Because the season does good, not just to remain loyal but improves upon it.
- The Swede, and Mr. Durant’s reaction to the plot of killing Lilly Ogera.
Hell on Wheels Review – Season 3
This continues from where the series ends. However, there is not much to talk about it, because this is probably the weakest of the 5 seasons.
And the one that almost made me reconsider my life’s choice about binging the series. It is not too bad, per say, but not good enough to continue the legacy of the Hell on Wheels.
The feeling you get from the season is that it’s as if the show is halting to an end. It almost feels like the first season got trains going. Then, the second season slowed it down a bit, while the third almost stopped the locomotion.
The reason could be that it took a whole new direction, well, they tried to take a whole new direction. I say, they tried, because they failed, you will understand this part in the Hell on Wheels review of season 4.
You see, the show was about redemption and the soldier who lost the war, and is now desperately looking for revenge. You were in for the ride to see if he succeeds, killing be it may, it was the biggest motivation of the main hero of the show.
This season makes it seem like a show about finding your way back to the middle, not the beginning or the end, just somewhere in the middle so you could get lost or confused.
Undoubtedly this season must’ve lost the most number of fans, if they could in fact stick to the end to stop being fans. Because even that would take some serious some dedication.
They undid everything the season 2 did, gained them loads of new viewers and a huge audience.
It is a show about construction and one of mankind’s biggest feats, which almost became a show about reconstruction and how you fix what is already broken.
Fixing is not a bad concept, it just wasn’t what they were going for anyways.
- Cullen and Elam fight, well kind of.
- The Swede stirs up some controversy again
Hell on Wheels Review – Season 4
Season four is like season two that improves upon what the show was, and reminds you why you loved the show in the first place.
There is so much to like about the series and especially about season 4. But the mere element of it returning to its core; a series about transcontinental railroad presented with the heroic tale of a soldier seeking revenge and redemption, finally takes root in this season.
This was all but clear from the beginning, however, season 4 after taking a detour on season 3 returns to that premise and delivers it.
Season 4 takes a bit more elaborate approach and slower pace for the show. That aspect, on the other hand, lets us sip through the quality of the show including some of the successful subplots.
The subplots relating to religion which correctly ties to the period perfectly. The incorporation of sin and forgiveness throughout the season makes for a perfect subplot for a movie about redemption.
It is overall a great show that regains the loyalty of its fans. However, after a flop season three. I doubt there were any nonfans left watching the series at this point.
The only thing it does good is to book the fans for another season, at least those who stayed with them throughout the season 3.
Overall, Cullen overcomes some hardships and is together with his family to only end up working for the Swede at the end.
Oh yes, I did not mention his family. Because, it should not have had any spoilers. But if you watch the seasons before you definitely won’t have any spoilers.
- Cullen is left in a well.
- Cullen meets the new marshal and takes measures to make sure his family is safe.
Hell on Wheels review – Season 5
The heel on wheels review season 5 is probably the best of all other seasons. The show comes to a bittersweet end, a kind that I wish many of the series would adapt.
The final stop of the train that was moving fast and slow comes to a screeching sound with the noise being so annoying yet so wonderful the show masterfully shows how all roads lead to hell.
The conclusion of the character of Cullen is also a satisfying one. One that you wouldn’t expect to go down that way at all.
Durant’s character arc completes in a more or less fine way as well, however, heavily dependent on what Cullen does. His insights and embodiment of the American political atmosphere already from that area is really fascinating.
The best part yet, is that every single episode seems to get better and better every time. You really understand that the filmmakers have done their best and given it all. The series finale is definitely the one to watch out for, or at least worth watching all the other seasons for.
- The Swede and the Cullen bring in the showdown that was expected for 5 seasons.
- Cullens helps with the Chinese workers and solves their problems. This is really a highlight because it fits the characteristics of the man he is in the show.
To Wrap Up
Hell on Wheels review definitely recommends a watch. And if you intend to watch Hell on Wheels, make sure to grab some popcorn and be ready to get hooked.
Because the first season is that good, however, don’t just give up after season 3. Because at the end of the day, the series brings back the show and ends with such a slam that you would be remembering the show for a long time.
One of the truest westerns, Hell on Wheels is one of the greatest westerns and drama series that you should definitely check out.
If you are a fan of westerns, then add this to the list of must-sees. It is not phenomenally great or something out of this world. But it’s so good that you won’t regret your time. Plus, you get to learn a word or two. Its at least 8 out 10.
Check out the movies category for more reviews and our lists to find exactly what you are looking for.