Saturday, August 13, 2011

Movie Review: COWBOYS & ALIENS

First released: 2011
Starring: Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Based on: The graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

Jake Lonergan wakes up in the middle of the desert. He has no idea who he is, where he is, how he got there, or why he has a metal thing strapped to his wrist. After finding some tight-fitting clothes, he makes his way to the nearest town, where he quickly deduces some very pertinent information: one, he has an absolute gift for punching people in the face. Two, he's an outlaw who stole from the cattle baron, Mr. Dolarhyde, who also happens to run the town Jake is in. And three, the thingy on his wrist blows up alien spaceships.

daniel craig is confused
'What the...?!'

This movie is pretty dumb, which is fine. Believe it or not, I have a pretty high tolerance for dumb movies (or so I like to think). But what really bothered me was that it was surprisingly one-note. As I overheard a little kid telling his dad as they left the theater, "That was kinda boring."

No movie with as many explosions and special effects as this one should be boring. That's, like, a rule.

Part of the problem is that it's super-derivative. As the preacher, who for some reason acts as the doctor even though there's another character named Doc (?), said, "I've seen bad men do good things and good men do bad things." Uh, isn't that line straight out of No Country for Old Men? Like literally a direct quote? And isn't that scene where the alien breathes in the little kid's face and drool drips from its pointy teeth an almost EXACT COPY of that scene in Alien where the alien breathes in Sigourney Weaver's face and drool drips from its pointy teeth? Come on, guys.

Daniel Craig was also a huge disappointment. Item the first: he only took his shirt off once. Item the second, he did nothing in this movie except scowl and point his wrist thingy at aliens. Honestly, the monoexpression of scowl was enough to make me suspect he has really bad teeth and not lifting his upper lip is part of his standard contract. And item the third, his American accent was suuhuhuper sketchy. Why didn't he just speak normally if he had that much trouble with it? It's the American West, for god's sake, there are people with different accents.

harrison ford

Anywho. The film wasn't completely bad. The biggest plus was Harrison Ford, who played Colonel Dolarhyde. I gotta say, the guy's still got it. Heck yeah. While Craig was phoning it in, Ford was bringing it to the table. Almost as if he believed he was in a good movie! To be fair, Ford's character had most of the good lines and the only discernible story arc in the entire narrative, but still.

The other thing I liked was the Indians. When the movie started, I naturally thought--because of the title--that the aliens were a metaphor for Indians. And about twenty minutes in, I quite frankly was really missing the Indians. But! I was wrong. The aliens are actually a metaphor for European colonialism and the western settlers band together with the Apaches to defeat them. I was so happy to see Indians in the picture my brain didn't explode with annoyance when they used peyote and there was a lame vision sequence straight out of a 1960s B-movie. Yes, let's just ignore that.

Overall, this movie is worth a Saturday afternoon viewing at home, but paying to see it in the theater? Meh. I expected everyone on this project to have a lot more fun with it, considering it's about cowboys and freaking aliens, but it felt like a chore and the ending was anti-climatic. All I have to say is, thank god for Harrison Ford.


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