Written by / 7/30/2011 / No comments / , , ,

COWBOYS & ALIENS

title: COWBOYS & ALIENS
year: 2011
cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell
rating: *1/2

In the beginning, there’s a cowboy movie. A man from nowhere, Daniel Craig, wakes up with a device on his wrist – then he’s surrounded by three rough necks – followed by a quick, neat fight straight out of the opening scene of SILVERADO.

He wanders into a small town, where a few more characters are set-up, and it feels like the kind of Western we love to watch, perhaps even something by Sergio Leone – that’s the attempt, anyway.

We meet the town brat, overplayed by Paul Dano, whose father, Harrison Ford, is a cattle baron with lots of money. All these and more folks are introduced, so many it’s hard to keep track. Then the aliens, in speedy vessels with lasers, and even lassos, attack: computer animation meets the scant Western setting. When a posse is formed, and the cowboys venture to kill the formidable foes, the pace flags.

But it's when Craig’s gorgeous love interest, supposedly the town whore, becomes "reanimated" by Indians and knows everything about the aliens... spouting exposition like directions on a new stove... that the film sinks beneath the surface of banality, completely losing its rough and tumble origins to a science-fiction melodrama. And sporadic flashbacks of our protagonist's past are confusing and intrusive.

Daniel Craig, attempting the iconic Clint Eastwood Man With No Name, is so tiny he’s lost in his big hat. He juts his lips and hisses each line, and while this seems to work for James Bond, his performance as a mysterious stranger doesn’t hold water. Harrison Ford, with a gruff, world-weary voice and a bitter hatred for mankind, seems to be doing a performance or imitation. And the aliens, free from their ships and computer animated to the hilt, are too quick and dangerous to be interesting foes – thus Craig’s wristband gun comes to play, making the other riders (and way too many of them) useless.

The only involving performance is by Clancy Brown as a wise, tough preacher, but alas, he makes but a quarter of the trip: one that starts with a quick bang and ends with a very long whimper. And for the ORIGINAL movie where a guy finds a lasergun, straps it to his arm and goes to town on aliens, check out LASERBLAST, pictured below...
Kim Milford in LASERBLAST
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