Friday, August 5, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Released in theaters July 29, 2011
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.

My Rating: ★★★★★

It’s 1873 in the Wild West of the Arizona territory.  You’ve got cowboys.  You’ve got Indians.  You’ve got….aliens…

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes in the desert, injured, with no clue who he is or why he’s there. He also wears some fancy bracelet which he cannot seem to remove.  Moseying back into Absolution as a stranger, he is soon recognized as a wanted man and apprehended.  When the local head honcho, Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) comes to retrieve his delinquent brat of a son, he also discovers Jake who previously stole from him.  Suddenly, strange lights are on the horizon manifesting into peculiar flying vehicles that begin snatching the town’s citizens.  The enemies, Lonergan and Dolarhyde have to work together to learn exactly what these demon creatures are and how they can rescue their loved ones.

While this film is based on the graphic novel Cowboys and Aliens by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, from what I gather, the only thing they really have in common is the idea of cowboys fighting an alien invasion (and maybe a couple other points that could possibly be spoilers).  Just skimming through the comic, it really focuses on comparing the alien invasion with the immigration and migration of the first white settlers in America, while the movie only occasionally mentions war between whites and Indians.  One screenwriter, Roberto Orci, did point out that while they did take many elements from the comic, the screenplay was completely edited and adapted for live action.  It was also interesting to find out this film has been in process since 1997 when Universal bought the film rights on Rosenberg’s proposed story.

Personally, I loved this film.  It might have something to do with Harrison Ford—who knows?  But, really, the story is interesting.  They knew how to get the essence of the West and then throw in the aliens without it being too cheesy.  (They actually researched and handled this very carefully).  Daniel Craig makes a perfect lead, with his James Bond lethalness contrasted with his humanity and vulnerability.  I was disappointed that Ford wasn’t present for a large part of the beginning of the film.  One supporting character that I felt made a huge impression on the film was Doc (Sam Rockwell).  He added some extra wit and complexity to the story. 

The aliens themselves were appropriately creepy.  Their appearance was influenced by the creatures from Predator and Alien, and they were loosely based on the Anunnaki gods of Babylonian religion, who have a distinct interest in gold.  They also used the tried and true method from the 1980s films, revealing the creatures bit by bit and using lighting, camera work, and music to enhance the experience.  I feel it was quite effective, and I commend everyone involved for successfully combining the western and sci-fi genres in this way!

This is definitely one to own; my son was even asking when we could watch it again…