Before I get into this review of an excellent movie, I want to mention getting one of my pet peeves kicked in the balls before the start of the movie. I went to the mens room to take care of my business and there saw some dirtbag use the urinal and then leave with nary soap nor water touching his hands. You, sir, are the reason we all get sick every year and I hope you catch a cold a week until you learn to wash your hands.
By the way, I say pet peeve but really, if this doesn’t peeve you then you can join your unwashed dirt bag friend down in the sewer. This should be everyone’s peeve.
Anyway, Cowboys and Aliens. Really, really fun. It’s that simple. I mean, it’s a movie about cowboys and aliens! How could that possible go wrong? Well, any number of ways, but fortunatly for the hapless reviewers who have to sit through every piece of tripe that comes down the pike, it doesn’t. John Favreau manages to forge a great genre film out of two different genre’s. All around a positive experience. (Alien image courtesy of the movie t shirt category)
I really don’t want to get into the story on this one, as everyone needs to see it and I don’t want to send out any spoilers. I’ll talk about the stuff you should have already picked up from the trailer. Daniel Craig wakes up in the Arizona desert with some kind of bracelet on his wrist and amnesia. He is a very stereotypical high desert lone bad ass, and proves it in the first few minutes. He heads into town where he runs into the rest of the Western stereotypical character types. There’s the grizzled sheriff, the grizzled rich rancher who really runs the town (Harrison Ford), his wimpy, obnoxious son, the upscale fish-out-of-water big town guy who runs the saloon and doesn’t know how to use a gun, the hot gunslinger girl, the Native American raised by whites, and the grizzled preacher. In fact the word grizzled can be applied to pretty much every male character in this film. All of them are really stereotypical, but honestly it’s what we expect from a cowboy movie and so actually adds to the enjoyment of the film. Of course, great acting and directing help keep them from becoming annoying.
Aliens show up and start abducting people (anal-probe-a-go-go). Daniel Craig’s bracelet turns out to be a weapon that he uses to shoot down one of them. Other alien/cowboy hijinks ensues. His memory comes back in flashbacks. Native Americans are portrayed as savage killers and then noble warriors. A near inexhaustible supply of cowboys get killed by aliens. Stuff blows up. Other stuff happens. I really don’t want to spoil anything, so I will leave it here. Short review for me, I guess.
The stars. Cowboy movie. One star. Alien movie. One star. Well written story with no visible plot holes. Two stars. Daniel Craig. One star. Harrison Ford. One star. All around great acting. One star. The aliens looked bad ass and their CGI was excellent. One star. Great special effects. One star. Scenery was over the top good. One star. Olivia Wilde was looking pretty good. One star. Generally a fun experience. Two stars. Total: thirteen stars.
Then, because I am a bitter soul who can’t let even a great movie go without dumping on it a little, the black holes. There were a couple of sequences about 1/3 of the way through that kind of dragged. It might be just in comparison to all the other action packed scenes they lagged, but I definitely felt it. One black hole. The aliens motivation for coming to Earth was kind of stupid and childish. One black hole. The writers all obviously had a huge slice of deus ex machine pie before writing the ending. One black hole. Cowboy henchmen who continuously respawn like monsters from a monster generator in Gauntlet. One black holes. Total: 4 black holes.
I don’t have any irksome-but-not-blackhole-worthy items, but I will talk a bit about one limitation from the entirety of the film. It is fun and entertaining, but makes no pretense at being anything more than that. I’m not in the business of telling a great director like John Favreau how to make a movie, but I think that if he had added some plot element to the movie other than the main story it would have made for a deeper meaning. Maybe the aliens might have had a more complex motivation for attacking Earth, or maybe they could have landed in the middle of some big conflict between the cowboys and the Native Americans. Some kind of fight between cow and sheep herders or the like. While the characters were all very good and well developed, it was the story itself that felt 2 dimensional. Very linear with no variance whatsoever. Even the whole “You’re an outlaw we are going to hang you” conflict was resolved in about 30 seconds with hardly any discussion at all. Harrison Ford’s character was portrayed as a brutal hard ass who would destroy anything that got in his way, but after the first 20 minutes never had a chance to display that quality. Again, great movie, but I think it could have been better.
Final score of 10 stars and my hearty recommendation that you all see it in a theater. You will be entirely entertained. Not good date material, but if your girl is a fan of Daniel Craig at all it might work.
Anyway, no posts until Monday. I have a Warhammer tournament I am playing in this weekend. Then I get to watch all the Harry Potter films back to back. At some point I plan to suffer through the new Smurfs film (at the request of my best friend. Thanks a lot, Dave) and review that one, so don’t be surprised if my next movie review has me feeling a little blue (haw!). Also, I need to do my next Star Trek retrospective. Unfortunately I have run out of the good movies to do and am now left with the dregs, starting with Generations. Ugh.