Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens is the best film of the summer and easily one of the best of the past 10 years. They could have done poorly in any number of ways to cause it to deteriorate to a mediocre or even merely good film but pretty much everything in the movie works great. It is immeasurably difficult to blend two polar opposite genres so perfectly but this film does it and holds up quite well compared to both exclusively Western and exclusively Science Fiction movies.

Previews for this film were all relatively good but none too informative and it is pretty much better than I ever expected it to be. Almost the entirety of the preview footage comes from the first half hour or so, that first half hour is pretty good and contains only a little exposition. The rest of the movie is spectacular, every action scene is great, the cinematography is outstanding, it has all the excellent atmosphere of a western meshed with the “cool” effects that you’ll see in any good Sci-Fi movie. Though the titular plot should be incongruous the aliens actually blend quite well with the scenery and hopefully a badass genre arises wherein Cowboys do battle with their mortal enemy. If any film could kickstart such a bizarre genre, this is it.

There are several things about the film that I questioned near the start, both Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are sort of undersold in their acting performances. Bond is still a supreme badass but he retains his style of bluntness as well. Harrison Ford is supposed to be a legendary warrior but he sort of just seems like a haggard old man. But that’s kind of the beauty of the film, there’s no huge gap between the characters and every time a major character dies (which the film is not at all bashful about) you feel a great deal of empathy for them. There are multiple death scenes but none of them are overdone in the least, it simply adds to the realistic, gritty atmosphere one comes to expect from the Old West/Extraterrestrial classics.

This film actually lives up to that awesome title and maybe even outshines it. At best I thought this was going to be a good action movie but it turned out to be one of the premier action titles in history. It is simultaneously the best Western since Unforgiven and the best Alien movie since Aliens. It compares very favorably to Aliens (probably the only vaguely comparable movie ever made) which would make it a top 50 film all time. It should get a Best Picture nomination but likely won’t, but that doesn’t stop it from being of the same quality as the Dark Knight. By all means go see this movie 5-10 times to make up for the Potter fanboys and make this fucking awesome film some money.

For Reference True Grit and District 9 would both be 3 Stars.

Note: I wrote this before looking at RT (net was down when I first tried to post as well hence the relative lateness of this post) and simply assumed it would get universal praise. I stand by what I wrote, though I'm troubled that Captain America, a phenomenally mediocre movie outscored this somehow. This is still easily the best film of the summer unless you ignore the crappy part of X Men or something (45 minutes of Magneto is great, rest is nothing special).

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