COWBOYS AND ALIENS (Dir. Jon Favreau, 2011)
When I first heard about the summer movie concept of fuckin' James Bond and Indiana Jones (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford respectively) fighting aliens in the Old West, I was all 'sign me up', especially since it was being helmed by IRON MAN's Jon Favreau. But less than halfway through this messy overly formulaic film, massive boredom set in.
It started out promisingly with Craig waking up in the desert with a strange piece of artillery clasped to his wrist.
Craig is a man who can't remember his name, obviously because of an alien abduction as we see in quick fleeting light-filled flashbacks, and we follow him as he can takes out a crew of wranglers on the trail, on his way to the protypical wild west town of Absolution.
The town's sherrif (Keith Carradine) arrests Craig, along with the trouble-making gun toting brat Paul Dano the son of a ruthless cattleman (Ford) who acts like he owns the town, because he does.
Ford demands that his son be let free, but before they can sort anything out the town is under alien invasion, with a bunch of figher jet type spaceships laying waste to property and literally lassoing away various townsfolk.
007 and Dr. Jones, sorry Craig and Ford, form a posse to go after the aliens and get back their loved ones, and we get a long dull stretch full of old timey philophizing and poorly constructed character development.
When we finally see the aliens, like in a close-up shot stolen from ALIEN, it's disapointing how generic they are. They're the same green scaley disgusting man-creatures with hidden orifices and tons of teeth. Minus the multiple legs they look like the Skitters from the new show Falling Skies or from hundreds of other alien attack scenarios from T.V. and movies.
The profusely predictable plot concerns infiltrating the alien's headquarters, hidden in the picturesque terrain, which by the way is beautifully shot by Mathew Libatique (IRON MAN, BLACK SWAN), to save the abducted, with a ginormous battle climax in which cowboys join forces with Indians and outlaws to bring down the intruders from outer space.
It's not Craig or Ford's fault - nor love interest Olivia Wilde's, or Samuel Rockwell as a sensitive saloon owner - it's the undercooked treatment given to overdone material. The special effects are fine but far from mind blowing (they make the claim that the aliens don't see well except when it's dark so we get a lot of murkiness), and when the alien's motivation for world domination is revealed it's in one or two flimsy throwaway lines.
Craig's stoic beefiness matched with Ford doing his gruff old man routine to greater effect than his last few films, does make for some fanboy pleasing moments, but they aren't enough to make this anything more than a barely passable popcorn picture.