Aug 28, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens (2011): D

I'm now convinced that the non-cast related quality of the first Iron Man happened entirely by accident. Screw the haters: Cowboys & Aliens is a great title, and a better film would have saved it for the end credits as the cheeky punchline to what should have been a glorious set-up. If only that were the bulk of the film's offenses. A genre mash-up without a clue, Jon Favreau's attempt at Leone meets Spielberg is so tonally incompetent and dreadfully staged that it's a wonder the better qualities herein - namely, Daniel Craig, as a prodigious fighter who cannot remember his identity, and Harrison Ford, as a Colonel and rich farmer - aren't completely extinguished by simple osmosis. Every attempt at echoing the archetypes of westerns past rings with a dull thud, revealing the soul of a poseur; even the witty manner in which the aliens lasso their human captives is a possibility almost entirely unrealized (I'll have to give the benefit of the doubt to the original comic series from which the film has been adapted). Great movies breathe with life; this thing's dead from the scalp down. As if overwhelming lethargy weren't enough, Cowboys & Aliens is also stupid enough for two movies, beginning with the thoroughly lame decision to execute most of the action scenes with an accelerated frame rate that suggests someone trying to exaggerate the size of their sex organs, continuing with just about every subsequent scene and narrative development, and culminating with a battle at the extraterrestrial spacecraft that displays approximately zero understanding of action movie mechanics. If chaos was the aim here, at the very least, it might've not also substituted as a sleeping aid.

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