“Pockets on Shrek, Rockets on deck
Tell me what’s next, alien sex
I’ma disrobe you, than I’mma probe you
See I abducted you, so I tell ya what to do
I tell ya what to do, what to do, what to do”
-Those Kanye West “rhymes” from ET
Despite the geektastic union of James Bond and Indiana Jones sharing the same 40 feet of screen for the very first time, Cowboys & Aliens remains, after a distractedly puzzling 2 hours, a study of “˜Oh, what could/should have been’. You leave as the credits roll not necessarily dissatisfied, but with the niggling feeling that, considering the pedigree of those involved in front of and behind the camera, this movie should be a lot better than it is.
In terms of Steven Spielberg-produced alien invasion flicks, C&A is leagues better than June’s 80’s nostalgia theme restaurant Super 8. It appears that 1880s evil aliens have a lot more going for it than 1980s weepy bitch aliens.
However, if the thought of seeing Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford together is just too enticing, then by all means go. Just make sure your expectations are roped nicely in check, for though the names Spielberg, producer Ron Howard, Lost‘s Damon Lindelof contributing to the screenplay, and Iron Man director Jon Favreau may lead you to expect genre transcendence, you may just have to be satisfied by the very averageness of the production.
Time for some SPOILER TALK! Below are SPOILERS for Cowboys & Aliens. Free free to add your thoughts in the Comments section.
Cowboys & Aliens Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Clancy Brown
Release Date: July 29, 2011
The two genres of film I love the most are science-fiction and westerns. They both speak to my soul and provide fuel for my imagination. When I dream of fantastic adventures, it either involves me traveling through space to magnificent distant worlds or exploring the frontier of a new nation being forged right here on Earth. Combining the two genres into one glorious and entertaining package is like presenting me with the cinematic equivalent of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. It would definitely explain why I love Firefly and its big screen sequel Serenity so dearly. But I love it when a movie crossbreeds genres like that. Among my favorite directors of all time are John Carpenter and Walter Hill, two great filmmakers who made their careers playing around with the archetypes and stylistic flourishes of western storytelling in modern settings. Hill, unlike Carpenter, actually got to make a few honest-to-God westerns in his life. Both the science-fiction and western genres are inhabited with intriguing, larger-than-life characters populating worlds filled with mystery, chaos, and wonder, another great reason why the two distinct genres complement each other so well as long as neither side overwhelms the other over the course of the story. Jon Favreau, no stranger to making films with elements of the fantastic (Elf, Zathura, the Iron Man movies), understands this perfectly and it is that understanding that accounts for a huge part of the success of his latest feature, Cowboys & Aliens.