KT: My Take on Cowboys & Aliens

Posted: July 30, 2011 in In Theatres, KT Personal, Reviews

Wow, I must be fired up about this movie to have rushed home so I can write this review. DISCLAIMER: Please, these are my opinions. As JC often says on the podcast, I’m right and so are you. Please don’t allow my review to cancel anyone’s plans of seeing this movie. Mr. Favreau spent undoubtedly a ton of money making this movie and needs to see at least a little return on investment. Also, JC will be posting his review in the next few days. I’m sure these reviews will give our readers just a glimpse into how differently we can see things sometimes.

There will be some spoilers — so, if you’re planning on seeing this film, read this review afterwards. Thank you!
OK, onto the flick.

I’d like to preface this by saying that when I first heard about this film, I was intrigued. Of course, I’m a big fan of Jon Favreau, ever since Swingers. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him as a director, as I am a big fan of Elf and Iron Man. I follow Jon on twitter and enjoyed reading his posts about filming and editing “Cowboys & Aliens” over the last twoish years. But, I would say over the last month or so, as advertising and marketing has ramped up for this film, and especially with Comic-Con last week and all the interviews, and the screening he had last week… I don’t know, my view started to change. I started to get annoyed with all the press. Perhaps this is because we are just coming off the Indy Film Fest, where we saw some fantastic films that people have poured their heart and soul into, and they will never ever get the kind of exposure that a big movie like this will receive.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some big blockbusters. Anything Spielberg or Lucas – Abrams – even Bay from time to time (shush, you like him too) will get my movie-going money, especially at the theatre. Those types of movies just beg for big screen viewing. So I’m not saying that I’m only going to watch Independent film from now on – not at all.

There was just something about this movie that I did not like. JC wrote (something to the effect of) in his “Upcoming” post the other day that Cowboys & Aliens is just a western with some aliens in it. Yep. That’s what it was. SO — if you’re not a fan of westerns, this is clearly not the movie for you. OR FOR ME.

I do not like westerns. Never have. Never will. And that’s okay, it’s my choice. If you want to write me to tell me that I”m wrong for not liking westerns, please do! I love to hear why people like what they do. I don’t fault people for what they like, so I hope you do the same.

My main problem with this movie is… it felt very thrown together. Take out the aliens and it’s a poorly executed western. Take out the western and it’s a poorly executed sci-fi movie. I felt there was little-to-no character development, and the characters that were barely developed, I didn’t care for.

I love Harrison Ford. He’s great in everything – from “Star Wars” to “Indiana Jones”, to something as vulnerable as “Regarding Henry”. In this, that dynamic cockiness that we’ve all come to know and love — or even the sweet, unassuming man-child… that Harrison Ford is nowhere to be found in this film. He is hollow and wooden and one-dimensional. I don’t care enough about this character even NOT to like him! Then there is his twin in the film, Daniel Craig. He’s just as forgettable. Olivia Wilde definitely has the “I’m going to peer into your soul with my freakishly beautiful blue eyes” stare going for her, but it doesn’t save her performance. And the whole twist of her character? Completely unbelievable and what I thought was a severe cop-out. And don’t get me started on the little Airbender kid. (Noah Ringer)

Other fine actors rounded out the ensemble cast, and they were the only semblance of a saving grace in this movie. Sam Rockwell was wonderful as a bumbling simpleton. Clancy Brown played an unconventional preacher. And David O’Hara, albeit with very little screen-time, was the most believable character in the whole movie.

The aliens themselves were finely crafted, and I am happy that the trailers didn’t spoil how they looked. The special effects were the only part of this movie that saved it from being completely ridiculous.

This is a popcorn movie, where of course, you must leave all belief at the door. I did that, but I didn’t think I would have to leave good taste or an appreciation for a well-rounded movie at the door as well. This movie is all about the summer blockbuster, but I don’t think it’s going to stand the test of time that producers (all 12 of them) hoped it would. This will not be listed with Spielberg, Grazer and Howard films, and I think Favreau has taken a major step back.

Jon, you’re so much better than this.

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