Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens. B

The aliens arrive and the cowboys don't seem incredibly shocked that creatures from outer space have invaded their land. They don't seem to care what they are, only that they've snatched loved ones and must get them back. The cowboys are not horrified the way they should be. They simply organize a standard posse and pursue the invaders the way they would a dangerous outlaw, and go about their business as usual. And so does Jon Favreau go about his business, never really embracing the novelty of this genre mash-up, but simply making a very sharp sci-fi Western that doesn't surprise but doesn't compromise, either. It's clear that beneath this movie its makers are cackling at their creation, but the film still takes itself very seriously. The whole ride is fun and never dull, but this might partly be due to something shocking we keep waiting for and never get. This is risk-free summer fun, and it's also as badass as a PG-13 blockbuster will ever get. Daniel Craig gets everything right as the film's hero, and though his presence as a corrupt rancher is slightly unnerving, Harrison Ford is pretty stellar, too. And after Megan Fox insulted the Western dame in last Summer's Jonah Hex, Olivia Wilde gets things back on track as a mysterious smoking hot babe with all kinds of secrets. When Wilde emerges from a fire and when guts splatter from shot up aliens I could sense the screenwriters' eagerness to make this a dark and relentless experience. But you can almost see studio supervision hanging over their shoulders, reminding them that this is a premiere summer film, meaning that boundaries cannot be crossed. So considering this restriction, the movie works pretty well as a whole. There's nothing necessarily wrong with it, and I liked everything I saw. But I also left it feeling that perhaps an opportunity was missed with this one. I was entertained, but not invigorated.

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