Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ten Statements About....COWBOYS AND ALIENS (2011)

"Watch out!  The mechanical brine shrimp is after us!"
"I don't know what it is, but it's bleeding."

1) You know you're in trouble when you have seven writers attached to your script. Because when you have that many writers, each with their own ideas on the script, you sometimes end up with a lot of 'Just Go With It.'

2) I was encouraged at times by the implication that Harrison Ford's Dolarhyde might be more of a villain in this. He certainly acts monstrously, and he also gets points for being named after a serial killer in a Thomas Harris novel. But once the aliens show up, he starts slowly reverting to the typical Harrison Ford Hero-type. By the time we get to Adam Beach telling the Apache Chief what a good man Dolarhyde is, you realize we're supposed to believe it as well in spite of the horrendous stuff we've seen him doing.

Yes, Ms. Wilde..I will ride your trail...
3) I really wish we had more about the nameless Frog-Cricket-Spider things that are the titular alien...or about the alien race that Olivia Wilde's Ella comes from (Oh, c'mon...anyone who couldn't have figured that out from the trailer I saw ninety times in the coming months wasn't paying attention). Yes, you don't have to explain everything to make me happy, but you need to explain something. Just telling us that, hey, these things wants your gold just isn't enough...

4) At first, I was encouraged a bit by how it seemed Favreau cast a number of actors against type--Clancy Brown as a preacher, for example...but while the window dressing is different, their actions show us that they're actually being cast to type.

5) Okay, look here, Frog-Cricket-Spider-thingies...your scout ships are these weird techno-organic brine shrimp-like creations, but your ship is...a rocket. You can be either techno-organic or technologically inclined; you can't be both.

6) I've always wondered what you can see when you drink peyote tea, and now I see the worst CGI hummingbird imaginable.

7) Once again, I am confronted with a movie where I find Olivia Wilde incredibly sexy. Hell, I'd be fine with her playing Lara Croft now that I've seen her in a long as they give her a stetson and a sideways gunbelt as well....or maybe nothing but...

...which once again proves the fact that I can't stand Thirteen is entirely the fault of the writers and creator of House

Yep...I've had nights where I wake up in the middle of
nowhere with some techno-gun welded to my wrist....
8) I do have to give credit to the film for giving us a tribe of Apache warriors who only speak Apache. While it's obvious that Favreau really wants to hearken back to an old-school Western feel, there are tiny touches like this that ground the film in some semblance of reality.

9) It really, really surprised me that, given how many times Favreau gives us moment where he draws attention to how both Craig and Wilde both have vivid blue, distinctive eyes, the film never pulled the trigger on the idea that maybe Craig's Lonegan was an alien as well. It strikes this might have been the intention in one of the earlier drafts, but it got shunted off by the wayside. It would certainly have given the ending the bittersweetness the film was obviously going for.

10) This is prolly due to the actors all around, but Ford, Craig and even Keith Carridine manage to make the whole 'they hated each other, and now they respect each other' thing work. Still doesnt make the happy and bright ending with everybody loving each other and wearing their Sunday Best.

Overall...even though there are some moments, this is a disappointment for being just another 'Just Go With It' action film. There needed to be a little meat on its bones, a little more mythology to support the performances.

Saw this at The Atlas--which, for some reason, turned on the lights three minutes before the credits rolled--and suffered through such horrors as the much-threatened Battleship (shame on you, Peter Berg...shame on you); Brett Ratner's latest product, the Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy caper flick Tower Heist which is notable for the inclusion of Alan Alda and a very thinning-on-the-top Matthew Broderick; and Final Destination 5, which at least has the good sense to bring back Tony Todd. And thank God I missed the Firstlook, because I would have started screaming during the preview of that abomination that is supposed to be the Straw Dogs remake.

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