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Monday, August 8, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens Movie Review -- The risk of mixing the old west with space age... And it's worth it!

Potato On The Go:

Cowboys together with Aliens? Seriously?  Well, this was my first reaction when I heard about and saw the trailer of the movie Cowboys & Aliens.  I just found it weird and awkward to connect the story of the old west cowboys to the space age aliens.  Well, in watching movies, I already learned my lesson not to depend on trailers in judging what film to watch.  Sometimes, good trailers don't lead to good films and good films don't necessarily have good trailers.  So even though time is tight and distance is quite a challenge, I together with the rest of my fellow movie bloggers headed from SM MOA to SM North EDSA.  You say what a trip?  Haha.

Anyway, Cowboys & Aliens took place in 1875 in the New Mexico Territory. A stranger (Daniel Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents -- townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors -- all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

My verdict, Cowboys & Aliens is a well crafted action thriller, it weaves well the basic elements of a film that make the classic backdrop of the old west a match with the space age technology of alien life forms.

I usually get bored in the old west setting and I always depend entirely in a good story to be enticed in watching a cowboy film.  The costumes, the setting and the music just bores me to death.  But Cowboys & Aliens is a lot more that what I expected.  In scenes without the aliens, when the cowboys if not in fight against each other are living their slow paced lives, the director was able to show a rather interesting, lively and suspense filled movie.  Sound engineering and musical scoring helped a lot in making these scenes full of life (and death), adventure and excitement.  Another excellent point in the movie is production design.  As we are mesmerized by the scenic setting of the old west, we are also transported to the world of extra terrestrials. 

I also like how the story is told.  The story may be similar to many movies about alien abduction but the way it's presented is a step forward in usual popcorn flicks.  The scriptwriter effectively used tools like flashback, plant and playoff and hidden scene among others to spice up the story telling of the movie.  The way humor is injected is something to be praised as well as even though it makes the people laugh, it didn't go away from the 1900 cowboy setting. The action, suspense and mystery are well mixed throughout the film, keeping the audience's adrenalin up!  Lastly, though there's an impressive display of fantastic stunts, the essence of the cowboys' lives were also told well.  In short, there's drama, but it has sense. 

So how are the old west cowboys and the space age aliens worked together?  It's simple.  The cowboy setting depicted what a simple town will undergo under an alien attack.  People were in fear and chaos, and everyone is desperate about the situation.  Why the aliens, who have modern technology compared to the cowboys, are in the old west is also well justified, making the film's conflict sound and reasonable.  To what it is, you have to watch the movie!  =)  Lastly, the aliens may have jets, ships and laser blasts, but its existence has a strong foundation in the alien technology presented in the film.  It's advanced but it's logical (as it has basis on energy and life organisms), and does not veer away from a possible alien encounter in the old times.

Acting is equally awesome as the technical side of the film.   Just imagine having James Bond and Indiana Jones in one movie =D, mixed with sultry mysterious female character  =D.  But seriously, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are well chosen for their respective roles and Olivia Wilde is as enchanted as her look. Together with the rest of the cast, who are entangled with their personal ordeals and in their struggle against the aliens, they acted their respective roles very well.

Well, I wish that Olivia's character should have been expanded.  I somehow expected something more (more stunts I guess) from her role.  There's also a little inconsistency on how Craig was able to use his shackle weapon.  They should have worked the logic on this very well.

In general, I consider Cowboys & Aliens real good sci-fi / cowboy / action-suspense / adventure movie.  The risk of putting together cowboys and the aliens and the challenge of our long trip ala Amazing Race are all worth it!  From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving Cowboys & Aliens an 8!  Release by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corporation, Cowboys & Aliens opens in theaters on August 10.

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