Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens Reaches For The Sky!

Six-eyed varmints meet six-gun kids when the wild, wild west gets a visit from some out-of-this-world desperadoes.


ARTH VADER (AV): There seems to be no shortage of Hollywood-spun graphic novel film adaptations in theaters these days. Ready for another one, Pontificator? I hope so, because Cowboys and Aliens is the next in a new breed graphic-novel-inspired movie that takes great actors, terrific special effects and unusual stories that are riveting and strive to preserve the integrity of the original material. In that respect, this movies does a competent job of trying to keep consistent with the original source content. At least in the name.
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): The only thing similar to the graphic novel is the name. This movie was almost a complete departure from the original content. It had cowboys, it had aliens...and that is pretty much where the similarity ends.
Casting, Directing and Acting
AV: Daniel Craig? Awesome. I mean, honestly, isn’t he the perfect anti-hero? And the hauntingly beautiful Olivia Wilde as the mysterious and alluring alien ally and of course, fan-boy living legend, Harrison Ford rounds out a cast that's (sorry about this folks) out of this world! The right cast puts every good sci-fi flick on the right path, but there are other factors – and this movie’s got ‘em.
You can't go wrong shooting digital cinema in the American southwest. Parts of the high desert on the scorching Arizona landscape are indeed breathtaking (I should know since I live there!). The incredibly beautiful sun-drenched landscape is the stage for one of the year's most unusual movies. If nothing else, the viewer gets a real taste for the splendor of the Arizona desert.

TP: A movie like this isn’t going to win any awards, except the “summer fun prize of enjoyment” but despite that, the casting was solid as was the acting. Daniel Craig is very good and I shouldn’t have to say that Harrison Ford always delivers. I was pleased to see Clancy Brown in the role of a good guy...a complete 180 from most of his work. Jon Favreau, again, delivers excellent direction.
TP: The effects were very...effective at delivering the juxtaposition of the old west with life from another planet.The aliens were somewhat unique and were nicely done along with the space crafts. I always enjoy explosions...and creepy aliens ripping through humans is always a welcome sight. With the arrival of 3D and so many movies doing it, it was a welcome experience to not see this film in 3D. CGI has come a long way and was done very well here.
AV: Jon Favreau knew he had a winner on his hands with this one, Sir Ponty. The repulsive nature of the aliens here were just delightful. (Sorry, is ‘delightful’ too touchy-feely? Ok let's say they were terrifically terrifying.) Along with a host of alien space ship sequences and healthy helping of nail-biting scare scenes in the caverns of the alien mining ship, Cowboys & Aliens serves up a healthy supply of shock and awe. Some real digitally enhanced eye candy!
Taking A Deeper Look
TP: Although the movie departed from the graphic novel in all but the name, it was very well done and quite enjoyable. The action was both big with explosions and laser fire, and small with Craig throwing down like the wild west version of James Bond. There was some compelling drama thrown in when we see the respect and love an adopted Native American had for Ford’s character as the father/son dynamic was explored. Of course, with Jon Favreau directing, there were excellent moments of levity.

AV: I agree, Cowboys and Aliens takes us on quite a ride. We gallop through the old west with a new twist; the primary villains (in a sea of them, actually) are gruesome, bug-eyed aliens who have traveled to Earth to steal our gold (I guess they've been watching the markets, too!), along with our sense of celestial security. But here's where this movie shines; solid actors, with well-crafted script and special effects that are at times, almost so well integrated, they melt into the fabric of the experience.

TP: As an afterthought, I was wondering how long the aliens needed to study humanity before discovering that they could have wiped out everyone on the planet?
Looking Ahead: Sequels
TP: The graphic novel left itself wide open to a larger story continuing....the movie, not so much. I can still see potential in a sequel though just based on the fact that more aliens can simply return to earth and continue their mission. In the graphic novel there were other alien races subjugated by the main antagonist aliens and a resistance effort was formed. That can still be explored in a sequel if someone wanted to do some really crafty writing and make a little more money on this idea.
AV: Many movies are groomed these days to birth sequels. Anyone Sci-Fi fan can see this movie simply does not warrant one, but here's what I would like to see. More movies taking on this kind of ambitious, obscure content and try to make movie magic. While there is no justifiable reason for a Cowboys and Aliens 2, there are just tons of available stories ripe for consideration in this mind space.
THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Cowboys and Aliens: The summer is winding down, but the fun isn’t stopping. This movie may not be a “must see”, but it certainly is a “should see” if you’re interested in a good time...and a movie that busts six and a half blocks, out of ten.
ARTH VADER rates Cowboys and Aliens: This movie has not tracked well with reviewers. Having pulled roughly $70 million as of the writing of this blog. That’s too bad. This is a mediocre box office performance in a summer stacked with super big screen sci-fi blockbusters, it is understandable that audiences might be catching their collective breaths.
I don’t care! I had a good time with this movie, its fun, thrilling and engaging. Hey, any chance to see Harry Ford bust up some alien baddies, well, count me in. And you can count on a healthy seven-and-one-half busted blocks from me for Cowboys and Aliens.
Cowboys & Aliens: 7/10 Busted Blocks
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1 comment:

  1. It should also be said that while this movies tried hard to make me sympathize with bad men, one of the remarkable elements of the film is how like the old west it was. As portrayed, there are no 'good guys', just varying depths of cruel and unsavory characters. This film's ability to force me to "side" with bad guys is a great storytelling tool that adds greatly to the depth of this film...