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Cowboys & Aliens
Cowboy & Aliens
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Steve Oedekerk, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
Cast: Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer, Noah Ringer, Keith Carradine
Synopsis: The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been...
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference
Yee Haw! Time To Round Us Up Some Aliens!
Like "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", I'm sure a lot of people laughed their figurative a**es off when they heard the premise of this film. Hell, they probably laughed so hard that they damn neared wet themselves, but look who's laughing now? I'll admit like some people, I was a tad skeptical when I first heard about this movie over a year ago. Wondering how the hell would a showdown between cowboys and aliens be remotely interesting, but I was also kind of curious as well. Not because I thought the movie would be great, but mostly because I liked the idea of combining two genres that nobody would've expected into one film. Seriously, how many westerns can you name where cowboys were fighting aliens? Or any alien invasion films that took place in the old west? Needless to say, the idea of "Cowboys & Aliens" had me intrigued, and mostly curious.
Plus, Jon Favreau is a very skillful director, as even some of his bad movies are halfway decent like "Zathura: A Space Adventure." Therefore, I was willing to keep an open mind about this film, and I have to say that it's a lot better than most people might think. Sure, people can laugh all they want about how absurd the premise sounds for this film. Then again, how is that different from any other alien invasion film? Sure, there was both the remake and original version of "War of the Worlds", which were both great films in their own right. Hell, you can probably even throw in the "Alien" and "Predator" franchises in there as being considered great films as well. However, most other alien invasion films are often cliched, and most of them frankly are absurd when you stop to think about it. Besides, I doubt seriously any weapon on this planet would be able to prevent an actual alien invasion; especially considering they'd more than likely carry technologically superior weapons. Sorry, but I tend to favor the side that carries the biggest gun if you know what I mean.
The story starts off with a young gunslinger named Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), as he wakes up in the middle of the desert with a strange metal armband on his wrist. Unaware of how he got there to begin with, or even who he is, Jake manages to make his way into town, after encountering some thieves along the way. From here, the film plays out like a typical western story. A lone bad a** wanders into town, with very little back story revealed to the audience, yet you can immediately tell he's not someone to be messed with. Due to a series of events, Jake finds himself locked up in jail for a crime he cannot remember. To make matters worse, one of the town's most powerful and richest citizens, Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), seems to have a bit of a score to settle with Jake, and practically bullies the local sheriff to hand Jake over to him. As all this is happening, the unthinkable occurs, and the town is invaded by aliens. Unaware of what they are, the town folk start firing their pistols and shotguns in self defense, as the aliens try to capture them one by one, but none of the weapons that the cowboys use seem to prove much use against these high tech ships. As all this is happening, Jake's armband goes off and turns into a powerful weapon; which he uses to not only break out of prison, but to drive the aliens away from the town.
Reluctant at first, Jake eventually agrees to help Woodrow Dolarhyde and his men track down the aliens, so they can rescue the kidnapped townspeople that the aliens swiped that night. From here, the story reveals a lot more about Jake's past, as well as an elaborate adventure where everything is not always what they seem.
As I mentioned earlier, Jon Favreau always manages to make any movie halfway decent; in spite of script and character flaws in any film that he directs. When it came to "Iron Man 2", I'm sure Jon could have phoned it in like Sam Raimi did with "Spider-Man 3", when the studio forced him to shove unnecessary sub plots into the movie against his protests. However, if there's one thing you can never take away from the guy, it's that he's a very skillful improviser on the sly. Not only did he manage to make "Iron Man 2" a decent film in spite of it being obviously rushed, and containing too many sub plots, but he was able to still tell an effective story anyway. Same can be said of "Zathura: A Space Adventure", where sure you can easily say it was a space age version rip off of "Jumanji", but he was able to make the film at least fun and entertaining. Where in spite of the film's obvious cliched ridden stupidity, you could still temporarily suspend your disbelief to have fun. As far as what this has to do with "Cowboys & Aliens", I'll get to that now.
Although, I'll be the first to admit the premise of this movie does sound cheesy, and probably downright stupid. However, Jon Favreau manages make the film not only as entertaining as the trailers would suggest, but he also manages to tell an effective story that seamlessly weaves in science fiction with western lore. Allowing for the story to naturally progress to where audiences will be hooked from beginning to end, as they won't be able to take their eyes off the screen. Sure, the story does tend to border on the line of camp a lot of times, but it never gets boring though to say the least. If anything, it's just one of those fun action movies that you tend to enjoy watching in spite of it's flaws; while it leaves you just enough mystery and plot twists to keep it interesting.
As for the special effects, they're pretty much everything that you'd expect from a Hollywood film, and Daniel Craig does a great job playing the strong silent type in this movie. Harrison Ford manages to keep the movie grounded like he did with the original "Star Wars" trilogy; while Olivia Wilde proves to be one of the most charming actresses in cinema. Sure, she probably won't win any awards for her acting, but she's definitely charming whenever she has to be, as she's a rare combination of both beauty and talent when it comes to these types of films.
In the end, I wouldn't say that "Cowboys & Aliens" is anywhere near the disaster that skeptics feared it would be, but it's certainly not as great as the hype either. It's definitely worth renting if you're into a lot of movies, and you're looking for something that's a bit different than most films out there. However, I wouldn't pay to see this in a theater, as the story comes off a bit too cheesy at times. Overall, I would have to give this movie a two and a half out of four. Sure, the script for this movie can border on the edge of camp a lot, but the acting performances along with Jon Favreau's direction help keep the film in line to where it never loses the attention of it's audience.