At home we’ve started a regular practice of film nights on Saturday evenings. We buy in popcorn drinks and snacks and settle down at eight o’clock to watch whatever film is on Sky Premier Movies that week.
It’s become a fun tradition now but we’ve only been doing it for about a year.
This week I mentioned it to a friend and they suggested I should review the film as it was quite an unusual one.
Cowboys And Aliens.
It held all the potential to be a complete farce or a ground breaking new genre. That was partly why the review was suggested. I have a bad habit of turning up the sarcasm when I find something worthy of my evil side. That may have been the temptation but let’s see what the film was actually like shall we?
Cowboys And Aliens.
Daniel Craig,Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.
There are plenty of characters but these are the only ones that really drive the plot, for what it is.
Directed by Jon Favreau, who has previously directed both Iron Man films and the Will Ferrell vehicle,Elf. Favreau may have struck gold, or maybe bronze with the Iron Man franchise but C and A left me much less impressed. Until I checked out the details online I would never have connected the films via the director.
C and A, a very apt abbreviation, has none of the appeal or hold on the viewer that Iron Man had. It could be the massive prop of the Marvel name that boosted the Iron Man films, a good ,known history can hinder as well as help though .
Cowboys and Aliens was itself base on a graphic novel, based itself on a previous graphic novel which was in turn based on a 1989 original screenplay. So, maybe a lot was lost in translation.
Well, we open with Bond, sorry, Daniel Craig’s as yet unnamed character, dazed and confused and silently brooding in a textbook Arizona desert scene. Craig has some sort of device attached to his wrist he seems unsure of, maybe Q’s latest gadget, and has hazy recollections of a beautiful woman and hideaway. Bond again?
As you may have gathered, Daniel Craig makes a good Bond. Unfortunately, in my eyes, he makes a good Bond in every role he plays. In this film we really see Bond transplanted into a cowboy film,Bond playing the role, not Daniel Craig. The character’s distinctive personality is so little removed from the Bond character and also note, the nameless character in Layer Cake, that it is difficult to believe in the character of Jake Lonergan, the joint lead in Cowboys and Aliens.
Likewise, Harrison Ford plays a gruff, stubble faced grumpy old git with a strict discipline but a heart of gold buried deep by some previous tragedy. So, the same role he plays in most films again.This time Indie is actually cattle rancher and local big noise, Ex Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde . They were big on unusual names back in the wild wild west.
So, Lonergan arrives in the local town in cuffs to be informed he is a wanted man, a real bad ass murdering bandit and bank robber. He clashes with Ford/Dolarhyde through the latter’s spoilt brat of a son and the two butt heads in true cinema style.From here on we know the two will get on famously as joint heroes while clashing at every opportunity. You couldn’t write this. Well, you could. It has been written so often it is beyond a cliche now. It is a tired and predictable plot device. To suggest that the viewer would believe anything other than that is an insult. It is clearly a light hearted piece of family fun, with a few scary shadowy alien bad guys replacing the Indians, who in turn have to join forces with the cowboys to defeat the extraterrestrial intruders. The aliens are here to take our gold for what is hinted at, but never explained, nefarious purposes. After which, should they succeed, they will happily kill off or take as slaves, the entire population of Planet Earth. Or Planet Arizona, as we never refer to anywhere outside of the U.S.A.
Bad but really good guy Lonergan falls for mysterious stranger but seemingly local Ella (Wilde) as he tries to remember what happened to his previous love, Alice. When it is revealed just why Ella knows so much, she is a survivor from another planet disguised as a sexy, strong earth girl, the revised viewpoint of both Lonergan and Dolarhyde seems to be ‘Well, she may be a shape shifting asexual from outer space but you still would, wouldn’t you?’.
All told, Cowboys and Aliens is a fun romp which fills it’s time slot adequately without the need of too much belief or concentration. If you suspend any belief in American History and forget any Harrison Ford or Daniel Craig films you may have previously encountered, then you can enjoy just laughing at the cartoon accents and special effects and come away mainly unmoved by the fate of any of the generally bland characters.
Would I pay to see it at a cinema? No
Would I buy the dvd? No
Would I watch it again on non subscription tv? On a rainy day, with very little else on, maybe.