Monday, August 1, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

When I first saw a trailer for the film, I was happy that the title was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Yes, the movie was about cowboys fighting aliens, but it was going to be a serious movie. Picture a western film such as Unforgiven and all of a sudden aliens just decide to show up. The problem is- this doesn't end up being Unforgiven. It's not a good movie, at all.

If you were worrying the plot would be too ridiculous, well it is, but it at least treats everything in a realistic manner that only such a high-concept film like this should do. The story follows a man named Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) who wakes up in the middle of the desert with no memory of how he got there or who he is, so he walks towards the town of Absolution. Once there, he comes across Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who claims that Jake stole money from him, but before they can settle, the aliens attack and kidnap the townspeople. Lonergan and Dolarhyde then team-up to lead a renegade band of survivors out into the wild western frontier to fight the aliens and recover their friends and family.

The movie was actually a good movie until the aliens showed up. Then I realized that none of these characters were going to develop if the film kept heading in the direction I foresaw. I prefer films with characters that go through an arc. Instead the film is all plot. A plot that includes hummingbirds, Native American memory-loss curing liquid, a dog, and aliens that have smaller hands inside of them so they can hit the smaller buttons on their consoles and whatnot. The aliens also suck at killing people until the end of the movie. They can sure as hell cause explosions around everyone and create chaos, but they only develop hand-eye coordination when the heroes lead an attack against their docked mothership. The movie ends up being full of action cliches, which was my problem with director Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2. It just felt too overdone whereas his other films (Made, Elf, Iron Man, and even the not-that-well-regarded Zathura) felt charming and fresh.

Like I said, the biggest problem with this film isn't even the concepts. The characters are just so flat and not multi-faceted. Two that I took issue with for example were Ella (Olivia Wilde) and Percy (Paul Dano). Ella is purely a plot device and who she really is ends up being quite predictable due to all of the mystery that surrounds her. Percy is just a brat, nothing redeeming about him and I don't quite get why Woodrow hasn't disowned him. There was nothing redeeming about that whole storyline, but another character's death figures in so I'll keep quiet.

I like movies that make me care or at the very least make me feel something, anything, in response to the events on screen. This film, just didn't do anything for me.

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