I also saw Cowboys & Aliens this weekend, saw it with Damielle, Gonzalo and his mother. It’s about a memory lacking Daniel Craig who stumbles upon a town where aliens have come to take the people. He forms an un-likely posse and they ride out to take their people back. On the journey he learns that he’s Jake Lonergan and all that is attached to that name, and his wrist. AKA alien technology and aliens.
The good; the opening is very evocative of a Sergio Leone western, vast landscapes and in pops Jake, he’s bloody and ragged, we know about as much as he does at this point, it’s a great opening. Speaking of the landscapes, Jon Favreau used real locations, not only locations but sets, bravo sir. This doesn’t have to do with the story that much, but there are a lot of night scenes, or dimly lit scenes, and I really enjoyed that. Low lighting was covered wonderfully in this movie.
The special effects are wonderful, from the first time we see the spaceships we’re reminded of Close Encounters of The Third Kind. Very mysterious. Then there’s the wrist weapon on Jake, nice use of practical and computer effects. Same thing with the alien ships, especially the “mother ship” if you will.
The bad; the movie was missing something. It felt off, and I want to blame the scribes, Kurtzman and Orci. The same people who have graced us with the Transformers “movies.” The hybrid of a western sci-fi movie sounds good, like how Alien or The Terminator are sci-fi horror, but for some reason the melding of the two genres here doesn’t work. It feels very much like The Searchers in that a posse is searching for someone, in this case multiple someones, but along the way the obstacles on that journey are cliche, trite and not well disguised at all. It’s almost like we’re playing a video game, once we beat that level’s boss we’re on to the next one and I can see it coming a mile away, cause that’s how you advance in video games… not movies!
Harrison Ford has stopped acting, he’s playing himself, an old crotchety man. His intense looks don’t hold any weight, and again to the writers, *Spoilers* his characters turn was obvious and cliche as the shadow mentor.
So more bad than good on this one. Another thing that I found slightly off with the hybrid of genres was the pacing. The action scenes weren’t as quick cut as I’d like, they felt almost too slow. The only reason I could see for this is that the filmmakers wanted to do more of a traditional western. I love westerns, but this film isn’t a pure western, you need to change it up. Favreau knows how to cover action, he did it in the Iron Man movies, so I’m not sure why the action coverage here was very lack luster and easy. I keep thinking of Unforgiven where the action is slow and almost methodical, but the film built to action and when action happened it was violent and meaningful. When Jake uses his wrist blaster it’s fast and wild, so the editing needs to be complimenting that.
Overall an enjoyable experience, that leaves you wanting more. I really wanted to like this movie a lot more, but it sadly falls short. Definitely worth a rental.