Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

Question…Why is it more believable for aliens to attack Earth in modern times than for them to have attacked during the days of the Wild, Wild West? Could they not have had the technology back then? Did we learn nothing from Transformers? Get past the whole unbelievability and you might actually enjoy Cowboys & Aliens.

I am at the midnight showing with about 14 other people. So sad. I’m hoping, once again, that it’s the theater location that is keeping away the masses and not the movie itself. Maybe Quail Springs did a lot better.

It appears that the critics are divided regarding Cowboys & Aliens. At least one of them used some very rude words to describe his loathing. After watching the movie myself I’ve decided he must have gone in with the mind set that he was going to hate it. Another critic said that he bases his like/dislike for a movie on whether or not he felt immersed in it. You know, when a movie is so good you completely forget what is going on around you? He didn’t feel immersed in the film. Well, too bad. Because I did. For the most part. There were people in the theater who apparently forgot they were in public. But, what can you do?

Following is the IMDB description:

“The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been...” Written by Universal Pictures

It’s sort of right. This person took some literary license. I wonder if this was written by the same person who summed up Priest. They seem to work on the throw-more-adjectives-at-people-and-they’ll-go-see-this theory.

Daniel Craig is good as the gunslinger (Jake Lonergan) who loses his memory because of alien mind-control and becomes a better person for it. Hey! I don’t make this stuff up. I just report it. Actually, there is a lot of this throughout the film. People start out mean or gruff but by the end are big ol’ teddy bears. Actually, we never really see that Jake was ever mean. He just robbed coaches. Is a man’s personality defined by his actions? It is? Okay. Because of the “bracelet” he’s been stuck with - that just happens to shoot down UFOs - he becomes the leader of the Earthlings who go off to fight the big, bad aliens. And does a fine job of it too. And, not that I mind, but is it part of all Daniel’s contracts that he must take his shirt off in every movie in which he’s involved? Just curious.

Harrison Ford plays the part of Woodrow Dolarhyde (pronounced Dollarhide). That name made me groan. His Indian name must be He Who Owns Everything As Far As The Eye Can See. But, if this is going to be one of just a few complaints about this movie then I’m okay with that. Woodrow is one of the characters who you dislike at the beginning but change your mind about by the end. He’s just misunderstood. As much as I like Harrison it still made me giggle that his version of a domineering cattle baron is someone who just frowns a lot and talks like he’s been smoking for the past 40 years. Or maybe he was just channeling Clint Eastwood. I’m going to give away part of the movie here because I feel like sharing. If you don’t want to know, don’t read the rest of this paragraph. At one point in the movie I was pretty sure good ol’ Woodrow was not going to make it to the credits. It seemed like some major foreshadowing. I was wrong. He does make it. And with flying colors. Yea Harrison!

Olivia Wilde plays the part of Ella Swenson, a woman who looks to Jake for assistance in avenging her people. I don’t know what it is about movies lately but it appears that the days of the damsel in distress are no more. While this is probably a good thing I do hope movies are still made in which a woman can use the support of a man. What? I’m a romantic! I am misleading you a bit, though. There is a scene in which she has to completely put herself in to Jake’s keeping but only because she’s been injured. But men were helping injured men throughout the film so this instance doesn’t really count. Her character is strong yet sensitive. Sort of like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. One of my favorite girl-power movies. Just to keep you from thinking that this movie completely strayed from the sexist Wild West attitude I offer you the following line muttered by the pastor as the posse is riding out to track the aliens: “Got a kid and a dog. Why not a woman?” Jerk.

I liked so many of the actors in Cowboys & Aliens that to mention all of them would take up way too much space. I do want to mention a couple of my favorite lines from the movie though. When coming upon a steamboat that isn’t where it should be and is definitely not right side up we hear, “I don’t know much about boats but that one’s upside down.” Thank you King Obvious! And when one of the outlaws tells Jake he wants the gold that was kept from him, Jake informs him, “Demons took your gold. When you get to Hell you can ask for it back.” Every Western needs a line like that. There was another line that I loved but it contained a word I don’t feel like typing on a somewhat family-friendly blog. If you watch the movie it’s in the scene in which the pastor is teaching the doctor/bartender how to shoot.

And now for the breakdown:

Cussing? Yes. At least one of each but, strange enough, hardly any of it was during the battle scenes.

Sex/Nudity? No sex. Ella is nude in one scene but we only know this because we see her nekkid back and part of her tuckus. That is it. Oh, and Jake is shirtless in one scene.

Drinking/Drugs? Definitely drinking but no drugs. There’re also a few scenes in which people smoke cigarettes but you just can’t have a good Western without smokers somewhere in it, right?

Violence? Oh yeah. And quite a bit of it is icky.

Disturbing scenes? At the very beginning we see men with scalps looped around their saddle horn. And not just the hair part either. We get to see the nasty skin part. Yuck! We see a decimated herd of cattle. Blood spatter on a window. Indians throw a corpse on a fire (I didn’t like it because of who it was). A woman is slowly disintegrated by the aliens. The aliens stab people with their long, nasty claws. And so on and so forth. And there are a couple of “jump out at you” scenes, darn them. Fortunately, you pretty much know there’s a good chance of it happening. You just don’t know exactly when. Also, horses get thrown around and are blown up. I’m not sure whether I should be worried that this bothered me just a little more than the people getting blown up. Maybe it’s just because the animals didn’t choose to be in that situation.

My only other complaint besides Harrison Ford’s character name is that the movie left us with some unanswered questions. I really hate that. To put my questions here would ruin more of the movie and that’s just not how I roll. For the most part.

This movie was “Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference” - IMDB. There were actually a few crude references but I have a feeling the one they are talking about is the one I won’t mention. I completely agree with the rating. The violence is just too intense in some scenes. I, yet again, appeal to your protective nature (I’m just assuming here) to go see this before you take your kids. Other than that, I would recommend this for anyone who likes sci-fi action movies. I would say I recommend it for people who like Westerns but that’s really just a setting and not the be all end all of this film. I think that makes sense. Basically, it’s an aliens vs. humans movie using guns, spears and arrows (and one really cool “bracelet”) instead of M-16s and nukes.

P.S. No need to stay through the credits for anything other than to see who worked on the film and hear the music. Speaking of music, I LOVED the opening score. Wild West music on electric guitar! Wahoo!

P.P.S. I want a dog like the one in Cowboys & Aliens.

P.P.P.S. I didn’t originally intend to leave this as my final thought but I wanted to mention that the writers managed to squeeze in a few Christian moments. The pastor doesn’t just sew people up/teach people how to shoot and send them on their way. He actually witnesses to them too. I’m not sure how that was kept off the cutting room floor but I’m glad it was.

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