Monday, 29 August 2011

Cowboys & Aliens.

Cowboys & Aliens poster.

Everyone thinks the title is ridiculous and a totally ridiculous premise but how is it? What is different from any other sci-fi alien invasion film? The only difference is that it's a fictitious take on the past. That's why I don't understand how it's so "ridiculous" because it isn't. Another thing is that it seems a bit like an allegory. I may be looking to deep into, what is at heart, an action film but it sort of takes a District 9 route using the aliens as a race. It seems like the cowboys were fighting them invading their territory after they invaded the natives territory. They band together to show that humans will be cohesive in fighting invaders. It's like the Jason Manford joke (no, not a Skype/Twitter joke) about how the only way the human race will stand side-by-side is if aliens come and attack us.

Plot: A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.

It starts with an amnesic and unconscious Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) who has nothing but dirty and ripped clothing, a brand new alien bracelet, a tear in his side, a picture of a woman and a hat that is oddly important to him. As he's held by gunpoint for being the strong silent type, he shows us what he's about. He may not remember his name yet, but he still remembers how to take out bad attitudes and greedy part-time bounty hunter cowboys.

When he stumbles into the town of Absolution seeking medical attention for his nasty gash, he teaches Woodrow Dollaryhyde's (Harrison Ford) unbelievably annoying son, Percy Dollarhyde (Paul Dano), some manners. After this, they attempt to apprehend our hero in a bar where he's finally apprehended by Olivia Wilde's Ella Swenson in Doc's (Sam Rockwell) saloon. As he's in the carriage with Percy, awaiting his visit to the feds, Woodrow shows up demanding his son back and Jake Lonergan who stole gold from him.

Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. Directed by Jon Favreau.

This is our first sight of aliens which is OK but not tense enough. They come and they grapple the townsmen of Absolution and abduct them in their weirdly archaic - yes, archaic, I don't even know why - spaceships. After the carnage and the first glimpse of what this badass bracelet can do, we hear screams and get a silhouette of our alien invaders. It's bleeding and, now, the hunt is on.

What follows is a bit muddled. The plot isn't really coherent. First of all, they're chasing an injured alien and then they're attempting to recruit an army to save their captured ones and the changing point isn't very clear. As they bundle through the desert with a luscious real backdrop, it's hard to appreciate though because you never get a time to really. There's no real lingering shots of the scenery or slight tracking shots of them riding through. Then there's a obvious development of the grumpy and angry Woodrow Dollarhyde who snaps into a father to an idiotic young tag-along who can't act. It's like a snap in his personality after his son is lassoed by the aliens.

Director Jon Favreau was constantly harassed with demands to shoot/convert the film in 3-D, but he held his ground, claiming Westerns should only be shot on film.

Then there's the romance between Jake and Ella as Jake snaps from wanting to be alone to honouring her name. It just seems like everything snaps into place all at once. There's no development; just a massive personality change for the two alpha males. This where Cowboys & Aliens suffers. It's just totally meh. That is the best word to describe it because it's so very average. I enjoyed it and it's a good film to watch but it's not something that is memorable or remarkable. It will not climb the ranks of your favourite films but it might be something to put on in the background or to watch for nothing but easy entertainment.

★★★

Note: Being alone in a cinema screen is absolutely awesome.