Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

File:Cowboys & Aliens.jpg

In 2006, Platinum Studios released a graphic novel called Cowboys & Aliens, created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Jon Favreau, who you may know as the director of the Iron Man movies, later directed a film adaptation of the same name for release in 2011. At the time this was hyped, I wasn't exactly sure what to make of it, but it did seem like an interesting concept. Having seen the movie without having read the graphic novel, I liked it better than I thought I would, but it still had a few problems.

The story begins in 1875 with an unknown man (Daniel Craig) waking up with no memory and a mysterious device on his wrist. While he tries to break it off with a rock, a group of men on horseback attempt to rob him. The stranger, however, manages to beat and rob all of them, taking a horse and their dog before making his way to the town of Absolution. Once there, he runs into the preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown), who treats a mysterious wound he has on his chest. Soon after, the stranger takes down another man named Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), the son of a cattleman (Harrison Ford), who has been a nuisance to the town. Soon after, the stranger is identified by the sheriff as Jake Lonergan, a wanted outlaw. Meanwhile, while a group of men tend to cattle, an alien spacecraft wreaks havoc as only one of the men survives. It isn't long before the aliens attack Absolution, abducting several people before one craft is shot down. After investigating the craft, a group of villagers plan to go against the aliens, while Jake searches for answers and his memories.

Overall the movie has an interesting premise and it seems to handle it in an interesting way. I don't know how it compares to the graphic novel it's based on, but I did notice a couple weird things about it. *Spoiler Alert* The female lead Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) is at one point revealed to be an alien, which seems to come out of nowhere. To their credit, they do try to explain this, but later in the movie is a sort of continuity error: Ella reveals that the aliens work underground because they can't stand sunlight, yet during the final battle (in the sunlight no less), the aliens are perfectly fine. *End Spoiler*

The acting is good in this movie, but everyone seems to come off as a jerk to some degree. Even the main character comes off as somewhat of a jerk, but he also has a heart of gold. The effects are pulled off spectacularly in this film, especially when it comes to the aliens' technology, but the design of said aliens, save for one, got a little creepy at times, particularly in that they appear to have fish eyes. It got a little unsettling whenever that was clearly shown, but otherwise they were fairly easy to look at.

Cowboys & Aliens was better that I thought it would be, but it wasn't one of the best movies I've seen this year. They do try to explain everything, but a few things seem a little off. I don't know if those who have read the graphic novel will enjoy it, though I have heard that it differs from the source in some ways. If you're curious about seeing the movie, I would say it's worth seeing at least once.

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