Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

Directed by--Jon Favreau

Jake Lonergan--Daniel Craig
Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde--Harrison Ford
Ella--Olivia Wilde

     Cowboys and Aliens is an interesting concept for a movie and when I first saw the trailer for this movie I knew I would go see it.Sometimes though the promise of the trailer does not develop into the movie we hope to see.This is the case with Cowboys and Aliens.
     The mood of the Old West was nicely set in a haunting opening scene and we are captivated by the stranger who knows not his name or from where he came.He awakes with an unusual bracelet firmly attached to his arm and despite his loss of memory he is self assured and seemingly in full control of the powers of his magical bracelet.
      Making his way into the town of Absolution,Arizona Territory circa the late 1800's,he is met with less than a friendly welcome.One woman,Ella, is very interested in his presense and his unusual arm bracelet.She crudely assists in his capture,assuring herself that he will stay in town.
       The sheriff has other ideas and quickly arranges for Jake Lonergan (our stranger who has now been identified by a wanted poster) to be transported for trial for crimes he has committed with his gang of outlaws.Also being transported with Jake is Col. Woodrow Dolarhydes son who managed to shoot a citizen of the town while he was confronting Jake on his arrival into town.The rough hewn Col. Dolarhyde is none too pleased that his iron grip on the town is being challenged and his son has been placed in a paddy wagon to be transported for trial with Jake.
     Suddenly the aliens arrive in strange flying craft,blasting town buildings and citizens with powerful light beams and lassoing some citizens to be hauled to their secret lair.Six shooters and rifles have little effect on the "demon" interlopers and it is only when Jake escapes the paddy wagon after a light beam blasts a hole in it that we see the true power of the bracelet as he takes aim with it,blasting alien craft from the sky.
     The importance of Jake and his non-removable bracelet is instantly apparent to the townsfolk and to Col. Dolarhyde whose son has been lassoed by the "demons." Soon the townsfolk,Col. Dolarhyde and his men,Jake,and the mysterious loner Ella set off to locate the aliens and rescue their people.As you can see the story has already become quite complex and this seems to slow the pace of the movie.
     The complexity grows as the group encounters Jake's old gang of outlaws and a tribe of Indians while enroute to their encounter with the aliens.They ultimately must work together to rid the world of these gruesome creatures.What have the creatures come for ? Ella knows and you will too if you see the movie.
     I think that a significant weak point of the script is that the aliens have no apparent leader and they seem to be more like an ant colony than an alien civilization.I'll elaborate on this notion a bit and give an example of why an antagonistic face to the threat of an enemy coalesces story form.Think of the movie "Star Wars." What would The Empire be without Darth Vader ?
     So our story moves toward conclusion, abeit slowly,  having lost energy dragging around flashbacks and backstory like a literary ball and chain.A good start,a muddy middle and a somewhat lackluster end make this mega million effort less than it could have been.I give it a C.

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