Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens Review

With a name like Cowboys and Aliens that is a take on the cowboys and Indians phrase, one would think you are going to be in for a comedy. Well, first this film is based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's graphic novel of the same name. Second, it's a serious science fiction-western mash-up. Think of it as a cinematic Reese's Cup.

In Cowboys and Aliens, it's Arizona in the late nineteenth century. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) has waken up in the desert and can't remember his name or much of anything. Lonergan has a strange bracelet attached to his wrist. He wanders into the town of Absolution where he meets the mysterious Ella (Olivia Wilde), bartender Doc (Sam Rockwell) and preacher Meacham. (Clancy Brown) Lonergan finds he's a wanted man. He is wanted by the law and also by the powerful cattle tycoon, Col. Dollaryhyde (Harrison Ford) for stealing gold from him.

Sheriff Taggert (Keith Carradine) captures Lonergan and is about to transfer him to the Federal authorities. Dollarhyde rides into town and intercepts the prison transport with the intention to exact frontier justice. It's at this time, they are attacked by aliens who kidnap a number of townsfolk. Lonergan uses the bracelet to destroy one of the ships. After the attack, Dollarhyde and Lonergan lead a group to rescue the kidnapped.

There are some interesting casting choices for this movie. Some of the actors are playing against type. Harrison Ford's character is not just tough, he's also mean but with a soul that's been hurt. Clancy Brown, who's played a villain in Highlander and a tough drill Sergeant in Starship Troopers, is a compassionate man of God. Brown is so good that he might get more of the kind, wise old man roles in the future. Sam Rockwell sets aside the quirky parts he's known for and plays a responsible bar owner. On the other hand, Daniel Craig is cool as they come. Everything he does is hip whether it's smoking a cigar or aiming a rifle. Olivia Wilde is a wholesome beauty who exudes a country sexiness.

If you look at the parties who brought this story to the screen, you can not ignore the talent. Producers include Stephen Spielberg, and Ron Howard. The script was done by Star Trek's Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. The director is Jon Favreau whose best known for Iron Man. (2008) He tackles the film with a thankful lack of camera gymnastics. With all that talent, what you get is a movie with excellent production values. You also get a movie with exciting action sequences and a lot of heart. And wait till you see the aliens. It almost makes you want to watch this movie in 3D. Well, almost.

There's not a lot wrong with Cowboys and Aliens. Most of it has to do with plot holes or a lack of logic. I mean Lonergan gets the bracelet as he's about to be a dissection specimen when the alien doctor puts it down next to him. First, it's kind of dumb for the alien to leave the thing next to him. Second, there's no explanation as to how Lonergan learns how to use it. Ella's character certainly could use more exposition. And I could use less of the fast cutting.

You can't go wrong with Cowboys and Aliens. It's a thrilling ride during this hot summer. The grade is B+.

1 comment:

Lizzie said...

B+ sounds about right. As Alan Tudyk said, "Cowboys & Aliens is okay for a space western but suffers from a painful lack of chinese." I hope you're a Firefly fan. ;)

If you feel like giving your review a broader audience without compromising your copyright, it's worth adding to Shameless promotion, since I'm a contributor, but we don't have a write-up on the film yet and your style meshes well with our sorta vibe.