Cowboys & Aliens could have easily become one of those films I hated before I saw it. I saw the trailers for this movie at least (no fucking joke) about 20 times before I finally saw the movie. Seeing a trailer that amount of times usually means my interest is killed before the movie comes out, regardless of whether or not the movie is any good; examples of this include Hamlet 2 and The Soloist. However, I really dug the trailers for Cowboys & Aliens, so I didn’t mind seeing it so many times. The movie has garnered mixed/negative reviews from most critics.
I think that whether or not you have a good time with this movie depends on your expectations before coming into the movie. Are you expecting a masterpiece of blockbuster filmmaking? Or are you expecting a fun popcorn flick? If you are expecting the former and not the latter, you will be sorely disappointed.
It is hard to NOT think the former though because this is a film starring the likes of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, and Paul Dano, and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1 & 2, Elf, Zathura). Not only that, but it’s written by Orci & Kurtzman, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Look at it from THAT standpoint, how could this NOT be the next great summer blockbuster?
Cowboys & Aliens does a lot things well and some not so well. I’ve read reviews that say that Jon Favreau is to blame for the film being bad, but I highly disagree. I’m not the biggest fan of the Iron Man films, but I always felt like Favreau’s direction was standout in those movies. He has a great knack for old school filmmaking blended with today’s modern technologies. I love his use of practical effects combined with CGI to create a more tangible feel to his films.
Where this movie falters is with the script which contains numerous plotholes, a plethora of unnecessary side characters with lame arcs, and relatively little answers to the mystery elements of the film. Orci & Kurtzman have had their fair share of hits, but their writing has always been hit or miss. Damon Lindeloff (Lost) also helped with the story and I’ve never watched Lost, but as Devindra Hardawar on the /Filmcast review of Cowboys & Aliens said, “Damon Lindeloff giving us a mystery he can’t answer? Gasp!”
A small nitpick from a movie nerd like me is that the sound mixing/editing was pretty atrocious in this film. When you watch a movie, oftentimes you don’t think about what you’re hearing even though that’s a big part of the movie. It’s usually because hearing something happen on screen is just second nature, but it plays a huge part in encapsulating us in the world of the movie. Cowboys & Aliens had some really poor sound effects, especially with the weapons where the six shooters sound like BB guns and everything just sounded so damn muffled. A great example of sound mixing would be Avatar where even though we’re in a completely 3D world, everything that moves, shoots, or makes a noise is implemented perfectly with the dialogue and action going on screen. You don’t think about how a gun shooting or a person running on gravel makes a sound, because you just automatically assume it’s going to be there. Movies add in those effects after the fact because they can’t record the sounds perfectly on the day they shoot. Once again, minor nitpick but it definitely affected my enjoyment somewhat.
What I dug the most about this movie, and the reason I was able to overlook most of it’s flaws, was just how fun it seemed. Sure, Daniel Craig gives off this brooding intensity throughout the film, but for the most part Cowboys & Aliens felt like some good old fashioned B movie fun. Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are infinitely watchable movie stars, period. The film is far from great but there’s enough here on a popcorn level that I really enjoyed.
Cowboys & Aliens doesn’t completely live up to the premise or the talented personnel involved, but it is certainly enough fun as a B movie popcorn flick. There’s enough action and thrills to satisfy your average movie goer for sure. Just don’t go in expecting greatness and I’m sure you’ll have a blast at the movies with this one.
Tron: Legacy- 3/10, I’ll start by up front saying WOW what a train wreck of a film. Almost every aspect of this film was terrible. Let’s start with the minimal good. Great special effects (save one aspect, I’ll get to that later) and a good score, that’s about it. The young Jeff Bridges looked TERRIBLE. That’s about as uncanny valley as you can possibly get, WTF was that thing? The world looked good, but it wasn’t interesting at all. Some people are pulling Avatar comparisons to this film, GTFO with that shit. I mean at least Avatar had great world building, a ton of kick ass action, and great pacing in addition to beautiful visuals. Can anyone tell me what the point of Tron: Legacy was? Dad goes away for a long time, son goes in and does a bunch of bullshit, and for what? I watched it in Blu-ray so the film was gorgeous to look at but it was sort of like a really vapid hot chick, she might be good looking but there’s nothing there.
The Dilemma- 5/10, Maybe it was just because I’d seen Tron: Legacy right before it, but I thought The Dilemma was actually decent. I don’t think that the blend between comedy and drama is incorporated well enough, but there are some laughs to be had. I thought Vince Vaughn, who has become unbearable as of late, was actually really funny. He has a lot of great moments in this film. The other three main leads get totally shafted though which is disappointing to see. The movie has such a strong and interesting premise that it doesn’t completely go all the way with, but it’s intriguing enough to hold your attention for the most part. There were also a lot of unnecessary subplots and meandering moments. The movie runs at almost 2 hours long and I feel like it would’ve been a lot tighter at 90 minutes. Could be a decent rental if you want a rom-com with a slightly different angle.