Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

A FIstful of Aliens

Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Steve Oedekerk, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (Platinum Studios comic book)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, Harrison Ford

Cowboys & Aliens movie image

SYNOPSIS: A man, Jake, wakes in 1873 Arizona with no memory and a futuristic gadget on his wrist as the only clue to who he is. When alien craft attack the town, Jake, the townfolk, ranchers and indians must band together to deal with this extraterrestial threat.

REVIEW: Jon Favreau, touted director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2 (don't forget Swingers and Made, people!), takes a screenplay from a stable of A-list screenwriters to bring Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's Platinum Studios graphic novel (just a fancy name for comic books, folks!) about Old West Arizona Territory cowboys confronted and attacked by aliens from outer space. The A-list team writing team includes Star Trek reboot scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, Iron Man scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, Lost creator/writer Damon Lindelof, and Bruce Almighty writer Steve Oedekerk. Throw in producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and executive producer Steven Spielberg, and you have a talent pool that is hard to beat.

Cowboys & Aliens concept on film is brand new, but makes you wonder how in the world we haven't seen this on the big screen before now. There must be a treatment or screenplay rejected from a major studio head somewhere. Only in the graphic novel format would you believe that the mash-up of Old West cowboys and extraterrestrials would work! Even the title of Cowboys & Aliens in the initial trailers brought eye rolls and giggles from movie-goers.

Daniel Craig stars as Jake Lonergan, a man who wakes up in the 1873 Old West Arizona Territories with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Attached to his wrist is a strange looking metal bracket that cannot be taken off. Happened upon by a trio of hunters, he quickly realizes that in spite of an absent memory, he still can brawl with the best of them, taking down the group of armed men in quick order. Taking clothes, a pistol, a horse, and their dog, Jake rides to a small town named Absolution and quickly gets into unwanted trouble with the wealthy rancher's son Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) and with the sheriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine). The wealthy rancher Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) looks for retribution for both his son and against Jake. Before any of that can occur strange lights in the sky fly in through the night sky, materializing as strange mechanical "demonic" flying machines, blowing up buildings and lassoing townsfolk straight off the dirt streets, into the air and off into the night.

Set as a western, Cowboys & Aliens provides the typical cast of characters, including a preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown), the sheriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine), a doctor turned entrepreneur barkeep (Sam Rockwell), a young boy Emmett (Noah RInger) looking to become a man, and a strange beautiful woman Ella (Olivia Wilde) who seems to know about Jake, his bracelet and the alien invaders. The desert vista landscapes are picture perfect, proving that you do not need CGI or matte backgrounds to shot a scene in epic proportions. Absolution is both gritty and typical for a small formerly booming desert western town.

Also set as a pioneering merge of western and science fiction, Cowboys & Aliens gives us at first shadowing, fleeting shots of the mechanical flying crafts that make their first appearance like the lights straight out from the first appearances in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Even after Jake and his wrist weapon shoots down one of the invading craft the townsfolk are still unsure of what they are dealing with. One of the monster aliens streaks through the town so quickly, Jake, Col. Dolarhyde, and the rest of Absolution are left with only green fluid and tracks to follow - at their own peril. The aliens physiques are somewhat unique and new, a cross between a frog, a crab and the Hulk. Quick and with sharp teeth and durable bullet-bouncing hides, they prove to be a superior menace, both on the ground and in the air. The attack craft are also unique, very cool and fun to watch. But anyone in the known universe knows, humans are as resourceful as raccoons and resilient as cockroaches when threatened by aliens from outer space.

Cowboys & Aliens is a film idea we have not seen before. Jon Favreau makes it fun to watch, both on the western side, the science fiction side, and the convergence of the two. How can horses and six-shooters hope to defeat an alien horde, even with their Old West attitude? As a Western, Cowboys & Aliens will not reach the caliber of Unforgiven or 3:10 to Yuma, although Jake Lonergan is as badass a outlaw as you would ever want to meet. As an alien invasion flick, we have seen some of the stuff before - the lights, the fleeting forms in the dark abducting innocents - but Cowboys & Aliens puts it together in a fresh way. The film may be too high concept for the general filmgoer, but the experience was a picturesque funny action-packed way to spend two hours with a favorite bucket of freshly popped kernels.

WORTH: Matinee and BluRay


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! I think the critics are becoming too critical (not you Chuck). I agree it is a fresh concept and it worked. So what if the aliens are compared to the Alien monster or other aliens in scifi movies. How different can aliens be?? The real focus is on the characters, their individual stories and motivations and how they band together to find a solution for the good of all that will ultimately defeat the enemy. To me, that was the story.

    The characters were particularly engaging. Paul Dano was great as a spoiled obnoxious rich western kid. I loved the bits of dry humor scattered throughout. The very touching scene between Harrison Ford and Adam Beach during the battle brought a tear. Daniel Craig was a bad ass who found his way in Absolution. Special effects were fun. I never felt bored. It held my interest to the end.

    I'd highly recommend the movie. In fact, I would even recommend it to all of our Senators and Congressmen (women). They all need a good lesson in how to come together and do something productive for the good of everyone. Get them all to the theater now!