Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cowboys and Aliens: Movie Review

Cowboys and Aliens: Movie Review

Cowboys and Aliens
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano
Director: Jon Favreau
In a dusty western desert setting, a man (Daniel Craig) wakes up with a jolt; bloodied and wearing an odd looking bracelet on his arm, he's got no idea who he is, where he is or what he's done.
Unfortunately, this man, Jake Lonergan, is a wanted outlaw and doesn't really have time to work it all out - he ends up in the small town of Absolution and is on a collision course with Harrison Ford's Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, a cattleman and who seems to own most of the town in some form or another.
But the pair have to put aside their potential differences and work together when an other worldly presence attacks and abducts most of the townsfolk.
And Lonergan begins to find out he knows more about what's going on than he first thought&.leading him to be Absolution's one hope of salvation.
Cowboys and Aliens is the latest adaptation of a graphic novel and a mash up of sci fi and western (though the emphasis is more on Western than anything else.)
Daniel Craig brings his usual purse lipped steeliness to the role of the mysterious loner - though I think based on this, he'd do very well as a lead in a Western; Harrison Ford is his grumpy self as the rich cattleman who, surprise, surprise has a heart of gold underneath that very gruff exterior and Olivia Wilde continues to impress by underplaying the only real female on the screen Ella. Sam Rockwell is criminally underused in the role of bartender Doc (and is a real disappointment).
Jon Favreau also brings a level of skill to the direction of this - the start of which is very well crafted - and ends up essentially just directing a western which has touches of sci fi thrown in here and there - although 30 minutes from the end it simply becomes a fight the aliens and survive kind of flick.
As for the aliens themselves, they're nothing spectacular - early scenes bring a sense of menace to their presence but once these bipedal lizards start running around like apes, they lose a bit of their panache and simply become moving blobs.
Sure, there are some parallels of the westerners being threatened by the more advanced aliens which conjure up an allegory of how the native Americans must have felt, but it's all pretty broad brush strokes and left to your assumption.
It's half of the problem of Cowboys and Aliens - while I'm not exactly raving about the film, I wasn't underwhelmed either; I was simply left feeling a little lukewarm.

The meshing together of the story, genres and scowling grumpy characters simply didn't gel as well as it could have perhaps done; it's difficult to empathise with them; the classic western touches (a stranger rides into town, faces trouble and a threat before riding off into the sunset) are nicely integrated and the initial alien attack channels early Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind but this straight laced film just never kicks fully into gear - there's never really a wow moment which it needs to pull you out of a 2 hour lull.

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