Monday 29 August 2011

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) - Jon Favreau

Cowboys and aliens: two boyhood fantasies you wouldn’t expect to go together.  And you’d be right.

The majority of alien invasion films tend to take place in either the present or the near future.  So why not during a key period in American history?  It provides a clash of cultures that requires the audience to suspend their disbelief a little too much.

All Favreau seems to have done is take the characteristic tropes from each genre and throw them together in an explosive melting pot.  Saloon fights, lone rangers and Indian voodoo?  Check.  UFOs, strange technologies and frightening creatures?  Check.  It begins typically with Jake (Daniel Craig) awaking in the desert with amnesia.  How convenient.  Except, he has an odd bracelet attached to his wrist which he soon discovers has the ability to destroy the incoming alien vessels.  Along with the local Colonel (Harrison Ford) and a gang of cowboys, he sets out to destroy the alien base. 

Coming from the director of Iron Man, you’d expect the script to be tongue in cheek.  Humour there may be, but the film takes itself far too seriously overall.  As a result, the clich├ęd mise-en-scene is often unintentionally laughable.  The vistas are stunning, but the ‘turn around introduction close-up’ on characters faces and constant belt and hat grabbing become tiresome.  In terms of the acting, Craig does his best Clint Eastwood impression as the strong and silent type, Ford’s performance is geriatric and Olivia Wilde (the love interest of course) blankly pouts her way through the film.  At least, then, we have Harry Gregson-Williams’ score, which cleverly fuses blues guitar, Morricone-esque orchestration and alien synthesisers.  It proves that perhaps the joining of these genres wasn’t such a bad idea.

Cowboys & Aliens is entertaining enough, but should probably be left to boyhood imaginations.