Tuesday, August 02, 2011

JayRo Watches: Cowboys and Aliens

There's a point in Cowboys and Aliens where Harrison Ford gets told a plan and gets a look on his face whihc seems very familiar. A few seconds later, I recognized it - it was a look that Han Solo would give. It wouldn't be the last time that Cowboys and Aliens drew upon sci-fi inspirations to derive the desired feelings.

Cowboys and Aliens follows a standard western story structure until the final act, when it turns into a sci-fi adventure. It's an interesting concept behind a film; one that works well in general, but sometimes strains to keep the balance.

One of the main ways that the sci-fi/western mashup gets strained are the nods to famous sci-fi movies. Aliens, Star Wars and Return of the Jedi all get referenced in scenes. These should be little winks to the audience but eventually end up distracting the viewer from the actual story. As well, the transformation from western to sci-fi is a bit jarring. It's as though the final scene basically dropped any pretense of western, save for the clothes and weapons used. As well, the kidnapping side plot is contrived as well; when the reason for the kidnappings is revealed, you're left to wonder exactly why the kidnappings are continuing.

With that said, it is a fun film, especially if you can ignore the final act's transition to straight sci-fi. Harrison Ford basically acts as though he is an older Han Solo, and Sam Rockwell turns in a fun performance as the meek barkeep/doctor. Daniel Craig doesn't turn in a great performance, but it is a passable performance.

As a side note, I'd like to commend Cowboys and Aliens on delivering what the title implies the movie is about (unlike Aliens vs. Predator, which was inappropriately named.)

I'd recommend waiting for Cowboys and Aliens to come out on video and renting it. It is a fun film, but it isn't a film that you need to rush to see.

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