Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: "Cowboys and Aliens"

It's difficult to write about Cowboys and Aliens, the latest sci-fi action adventure from Jon Favreau (both Iron Man films), because there isn't really much worth writing about. Is it a horrible movie, or some sort of massive train wreck of cinema? Not at all. It's just that there's not much going on. The movie simply exists, failing to leave any sort of impression at all. The film opens with Jake Lonnergan (Daniel Craig) awakening in the desert, not knowing who he is or how he got to his present location. All he knows is that there's a strange metal device on his wrist that he can't seem to remove. After making his way to the nearby town of Absolution, he, along with the townspeople, come under attack by strange ships, ships that snatch people and take them away into the darkness.

From there, Lonnergan and the sheriff (Harrison Ford, making no impact whatsoever), along with the mysterious Ella (Olivia Wilde), lead the town in a quest to get their kidnapped friends and relatives back. The only thing Favreau's film has going for it are some decent production values, and slick special effects. Everything else is hollow, though I guess I should be "happy" that it isn't actively bad like, say, Transformers 3. However, I can only cut the film so much slack. Aside from Lonnergan, no one is interesting (and you can figure out Lonnergan's past without much thinking); they're all card board cut-outs, which is a shame considering some of the cast (who casts Sam Rockwell and then gives him nothing to do!?). To its credit, however, the film never bored me (although I suspect others will feel differently), and there are a few decent jump scares, even though they follow the exact same formula ("oh good, the thing that was following me is g-"BAM it's back!). And, I'll be honest, the seemingly loopy mix of the science fiction and western genres never felt awkward; Favreau does, at the very least, know how to ease you into his world. A shame, then, that his talents weren't put to use on a script that actually bothered to create a story (and characters) worth caring about.

*PS: To whom it may concern, Olivia Wilde's nude scene shows you nothing, so don't get too excited about it.

Grade: C

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