Sunday, July 31, 2011
Cliché Cowboys and Aggressive Aliens
None of the fault lies on the actor's shoulders, that much is sure. Daniel Craig plays a "stranger" who has just woken up and isn't quite sure who he is, where he is, or what his purpose in life is. But he does have a mysterious bracelet around his left wrist, and he's one bad-ass mo-fo (that part is quickly known, as he dispatches three or four cronies armed with guns in the first five minutes). The Stranger (whose name is Jake), saunters towards the nearest town, presumably to find out what has happened to him. While there, he manages to embarrass a cocky little prick named Percy, the stereotypical my-father-runs-this-town-so-I-can-do-what-I-want cowardly piss ant, portrayed by Paul Dano, who was incredibly more effective in the western-themed There Will Be Blood. Percy's dad, played by a gruff Harrison Ford, doesn't take no for an answer, especially when he learns that Jake is a wanted criminal that has harmed him in the past. This first bit of story has plenty of potential, with some interesting bit characters (Sam Rockwell's Doc and Keith Carradine as the Sheriff come to mind), but the story falters once the Alien ships start causing trouble.
The Aliens, in regards to their look and ruthlessness, are pretty cool, but the battle scenes involving them failed to stir much excitement or emotions in me. And that's mostly Favreau's fault: in both Iron Man's (specifically the first one), he staged action set pieces with equal parts humor and pomp. Here they're just same old shit. Aliens were scarier in Alien and War of the Worlds, and Cowboys were more realistic and entertaining in Unforgiven and 3:10 to Yuma. Overall, that's the main problem with Cowboys and Aliens: its bits and pieces never cohere into one complete, fun unit. All of this has been done better before, and with the talent involved in this film, any ol' gunslinger could call Cowboys and Aliens a mild travesty. (C)