July 31, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens - 2011

Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, & Hawk Ostby
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano

A man (Craig) wakes up in the wilderness, stricken with amnesia and a mysterious manacle on his left wrist. Several men come across him and, assuming a bounty, attempt to take him in. In a matter of moments, he incapacitates them all and rides into town on one of their horses, wearing their clothes, and brandishing one of their guns. He soon learns that he's a wanted man by the name of Jake Lonergan, though not before interfering with the lives of local tyrant Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford), his good-for-nothing son Percy (Dano), and the local saloonkeeper Doc (Rockwell). However, all are forced to band together when the night sky is suddenly filled with strange lights, and alien spaceships begin snatching people at random.

Favreau did a great job with the casting of Craig in the lead role; the man's able to hold his American accent, and he's proven his action chops in the Bond films, as well as other roles like Defiance. Sam Rockwell also has another strong (albeit slightly comedic) supporting role that he's prefected by this point in his career. Unfortunately, that's the ending of positive things I really have to say about the movie. Ford is woefully miscast; seeing him play a crotchety old man, and a semi-antagonist at that, just doesn't work out for him. Dano also turns the levels of hamminess up to 11 in this one, and quickly goes from merely obnoxious to whipping boy in the few scenes he's offered. Wilde's character is so flat to the point of near uselessness, and is as far from Atwell's character in Captain America as is possible, short of being Bella Swan. In addition, if the source material had stuck to being "Jason Bourne in the Old West," it probably would have turned out fairly well, as the Western aesthetic and tone is nailed to a T. Unfortunately, the sci fi elements never truly mesh with the rest of the film, making things seem as ridiculous as the title would have you believe. On top of that, about 45 minutes from the end of the film, the plot got so unbearably outlandish for me that I walked out of the theater. Never expected to do that, especially for something from the director of Iron Man and Elf (one of the few traditionally comedic Will Ferrell performances I find bearable), but now he's got both the departure of the Iron Man franchise and this as marks against him in my book. D-

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