30 nov. 2011

My Review: Cowboys & Aliens (6/10)

¨Whether you end up in Heaven or Hell isn't God's plan, it's your own. You just have to remember what it is.¨

In Cowboys & Aliens Jon Favreau meshes two genres that I never thought I would see in a same movie: a Western and Sci-fi film involving an alien invasion. The idea is pretty original considering we`ve seen several alien invasion films like Men in Black and Independence Day, but they all take place in big modern day cities. Cowboys & Aliens on the other hand takes place in a small Arizona town during 1873 where local cowboys have to unite with bandits and Indians in order to fight against these aliens.  The idea which was based on an independent comic book was great, but the film itself is mediocre. One of the main problems in my opinion is that there were too many people involved in the adaptation of the screenplay. It`s never a good sign when you have more than five people writing the story. Jon Favreau proved in Iron Man that he can direct great films, but this time he was missing an actor like Robert Downey Jr. who can deliver great action scenes along with some comic relief. Downey Jr. was actually Favreau`s first choice to play the lead role, but due to scheduling conflicts he had to go with Daniel Craig. Craig is a great action star (he was great in Casino Royale), but he doesn`t have the charisma that Downey Jr. has and it could`ve came handy in this role. Cowboys & Aliens had plenty of well staged action scenes, but the comedy was missing. I think some humor could have worked better to let the audience know that this movie should be taken lightly considering the title and the plot. I still enjoyed the movie, but I`ve seen a lot better westerns and sci-fi flicks on their own.

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up near a small town in Arizona with no memory as to what has happened to him or who he is. He has a strange bracelet in his arm and a cut near his abdomen. Once he arrives in the small town he has a dispute with a young kid named Percy (Paul Dano) who thinks he can do what he wants because his father is a rich and important cattle man: Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Woodrow used to be a Colonel during the Civil War, but now he runs the town known as Absolution. The local Sheriff (Keith Carradine) discovers that Jake is a wanted man and locks him in prison, but Woodrow wants his head because apparently Jake has stolen gold from him. Jake has no memory of this, but a young local woman named Ella (Olivia Wilde) seems to know more about him. It`s during this dispute between the Colonel and the Sheriff that the aliens attack the small town and abduct about half of the population, including Woodraw`s son. The few cowboys that remain decide it`s best to settle their differences and unite in order to try to find the aliens. Jake discovers that his bracelet works as a powerful weapon against the aliens and he can be their only hope. As the search begins, Jake begins remembering things about his past and piecing things together with the help of Ella.

Daniel Craig is a great actor, but I don’t think this was the right role for him. Harrison Ford has been playing similar roles as a grumpy old man and I really think he can do a lot better. Olivia Wilde is beautiful, but she doesn`t have much to work with in the role she was given. She pretty much stares at Jake all the time, and we get to see her pretty eyes a lot, but that`s about it. Sam Rockwell is very talented and he does what he can with the small role he was given, but I insist a much more comedic approach should have been taken with this film. More comedy, less action. The special effects were good, the action scenes also pretty entertaining and the aliens looked cool, but that is about it. I really like the cast, but they were just given poor material to work with. I still had a decent time with the film, but I was expecting a little more from Favreau and the boys. Cowboys & Aliens is fun, but I`ve enjoyed regular Westerns or Sci-Fi films a lot better. For example I would much rather prefer seeing True Grit, a straight up Western, than this film. What I mean to say is that there are a lot better looking Westerns and Sci-Fi films on their own, and this film would have been a lot better if the meshed genres were better. I still recommend this movie, just don`t go into it with great expectations.

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