Cowboys & Aliens Reviews
Originally written July 30, 2011--
Bearing a mysterious metal shackle on his wrist, an amnesiac gunslinger (Daniel Craig) wanders into a frontier town called Absolution. He quickly finds that strangers are unwelcome, and no one does anything without the approval of tyrannical Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). But when Absolution faces a threat from beyond Earth, the stranger finds that he is its only hope of salvation. He unites townspeople, outlaws and Apache warriors against the alien forces in an epic battle for survival.
I have to admit. I really wanted to like this movie. The director, Jon Favreau, directed some of my favorite movies---Elf, Iron Man, and Iron Man 2. So I was really looking forward to what I "thought" would be a classic sci-fi western. Unfortunately, that just isn't the case. It's okay, not great, but okay. In the words of Roger Ebert, one of my favorite movie critics, "'Cowboys & Aliens' has without any doubt the most cockamamie plot I've witnessed in many a moon. Here is a movie set in 1873 with cowboys, aliens, Apaches, horses, spaceships, a murdering stagecoach robber, a preacher, bug-eyed monsters, a bartender named Doc, a tyrannical rancher who lives outside a town named Absolution, his worthless son, two sexy women (one not from around here), bandits, a magic bracelet, an ancient Indian cure for amnesia, a symbolic hummingbird, a brave kid with a spyglass, and a plucky dog who follows the good guys for miles and miles through the barren waste and must be plumb tuckered out." That pretty much tells you all you need to know. Like I said, this movie isn't great, but it's okay. Three stars out of five.
In the film's period as a developing project under several studios, different versions of the screenplay were drafted by numerous screenwriters, beginning with Steve Oedekerk. Other screenwriters involved included David Hayter, Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Jeffrey Boam, Thompson Evans, and Chris Hauty.When Universal and DreamWorks re-partnered in 2007, they hired Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus. In 2009, Ostby and Fergus were replaced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Damon Lindelof. Kurtzman and Orci analyzed American Western films including The Searchers. Orci said, "The first draft was very kind of jokey and broad and then it went very serious. You kind of swing back and forth between the two extremes and the tone until you find the exact right point where a Western and a sci-fi movie can really shake hands without it seeming unnatural." "Imagine you're watching Unforgiven and then Aliens land," Orci explained.
Orci also said, "The comic has the themes of enemies uniting to fight a common enemy and has the setting of that specific time period, so we kept the inspiration from all of that. In terms of the specifics of the story and who these characters are, we wanted the audience to be surprised and to not feel like they've already seen everything if they were fans of the comic. So, while the themes and the setting and many of the elements are a great inspiration, the story is completely adapted and translated for live action." The aliens were loosely based on the Anunnaki gods of Zecharia Sitchin's interpretation of the Babylonian religion, who have a distinct interest in gold.
Cowboys & Aliens was not originally planned to be shown in 3-D. When approached with the idea by DreamWorks, Favreau was not interested, stating that Westerns should be shot only on film (as opposed to being shot digitally, which is required for modern 3D technology), and didn't want it to be converted after filming. "That would be like filming in black and white and colorizing it," he reasoned. Director of photography Matthew Libatique shot Cowboys & Aliens in the anamorphic format on 35 mm film to further a "classic movie feel".
On a budget of $163 million, principal photography for Cowboys & Aliens began at Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico on June 30, 2010.One of the filming locations was Plaza Blanca, "The White Place", where Western films like The Missing, 3:10 to Yuma, City Slickers, Young Guns, and The Legend of the Lone Ranger had been filmed. Sound stage work took place in Los Angeles, with additional location shooting at Randsburg, California. Filming finished on September 30.
A scene in which Craig's character rides a horse alongside a ravine and jumps down it onto a spacecraft emulated many scenes in American Western films where cowboys rode along a moving train and jumped on it. Favreau said the scene referenced the one in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones chases a truck and noted that a similar scene existed in the 1939 film Stagecoach, saying "We're constantly referencing back to our roots." Cowboys & Aliens also make multiple references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, such as the introduction to the aliens through the bright lights on their aircraft and an upturned paddle steamer in the middle of the desert. The film also "tease[s]" monster movies, and the scenes in the paddle steamer were a deliberate homage to Alien
man this is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch, its got such a fantastic cast throughout this movie.......I think that this is such an enjoyable western movie 2 watch, its got such a great cast throughout this movie.....its got good fight scenes throughout this movie.........man this is such a good western movie 2 watch with a great cast throughout this movie.......it is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch with such a great cast throughout this movie....
A man with no name (Daniel Craig) wanders into a small town in Arizona with a weird object attached to his wrist having no memory of his past. The town is in the iron grip of a powerful landlord with past military experience Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). When the man with no name was identified to be Jake Lonergan a notorious criminal wanted by the law, an alien invasion occurs abducting many people from the town which is when everyone realizes that Jake's wrist object is the only weapon that could help them. The rest is the adventure to take the attack to the enemy and free their loved ones.
Harrison Ford starts off as not being too comfortable playing the second fiddle but comes to terms as the story progresses. Daniel Craig doesn't have much talking to do and he looks mysterious throughout even after the mystery is solved. The visual effects are a little inconsistent which can be no excuse in today's times that too coming from a big studio production while the director has a past record of handling it a bit too well in the Iron Man franchise. The talented Sam Rockwell is wasted here and Olivia Wilde looks like she has just freshened up in every frame while her character is in the harshest of conditions. With its bloated runtime, it can work up your patience as everything looks all too familiar even with a fresh mash-up of genres.
Cast, premise and technology could not save the insensitivity of its handling
Why did such top actors get involved with this?
Made it to the last half-hour.