Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Round ‘em up boys, we’re strapping these varmints to skyrocket into space…and please don’t forget “Happy” and the “Wonder Twins”!

Cowboys & AliensUniversal Studios in association with DreamWorks Studios, Paramount Pictures, Fairview Entertainment, K/O Paper Products and Platinum Studios present…

Created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg on December 2006, his work was assisted with fellow Writers Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley. While rendering the artwork were Dennis Calero and Penciler Luciano Lima.

Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) he gave his own rendition to the plot that emphasizes heavily on survival and diversity! He further explained that he wanted something new to experience mixing camera shots, lighting and background music which gave a prejudiced environment from the humans to the aliens’ point of view! While Director of Photography Matthew Libatique (Everything is Illuminated) returning from his previous collaboration with Iron Man 1 and 2 with Jon, he provides a focused take on the film’s dry, humid western ambiance! A 35mm was used to give an anamorphic format which makes it look like an instant “classic”!

This has been told a thousand times over, no movie could ever stand on its own, whatever genre it is if it doesn’t have a well conceived, written story! The people who did the “think tank” were Mark Fergus, Hawk Otsby and Steve Oedekerk who founded O Entertainment and worked with a number of successful animated series in the children’s TV network Nickelodeon! This guy even took the time to Write, Produce, Direct and Star in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist which was dismissed by the general viewing public but garnered a cult following due to the film’s over the top comedy while integrating it with an 80’s Kung-Fu stylized action!

They didn’t have the slightest idea what to include in order for the plot to work! To add insult to injury, throw in two of the most sought out writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who brandished their talent from the blockbuster hits “Transformers” and “Star Trek” and sadly it was still a box office bomb! I really don’t see why they need these so much brainstorming coming from five people who contributed in the Story and Screenplay and yet nothing good came out of it which was so outrageously preposterous! Paying all of them just to come up with Cowboys and Indians venting their anger from territorial abuse and adversity! Indie film makers can do much more…

The characters were poorly written and there was no in-depth take on their portrayal as well. Olivia keeps on staring at Jake or in the “great beyond”, Noah was forgettable, Sam on the other hand was the first time I saw to portraying a character cringing in fear and for not “talking” incessantly let alone for being overconfident in his recent projects! In short, he was useless in the film!

To add, it was so boring as it dragged on and on! It was like a salesman trying to make a pitch over and over again and not getting to the point on what was being sold! It was really a huge disappointment seeing that another comic based film with a legitimate cast and Director wasted millions of dollars just to save a company from bankruptcy!

Since Robert Downey Jr. left the project, Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) was hired to play Jake Lonergan (wow, talk about a surname) a lost soul finding his way to uplift the truth and redeem himself from past misdeeds! Stuck with a “gauntlet” contraption which shows more vivid memories when he was abducted, I recall an 80’s sci-fi film titled “Stargazer” about a young man who finds a weapon that got stuck to his hand which turned him into a monster! Joining him is Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde (names keep getting funnier, talk about originality) played by Harrison Ford, a man who strikes fear with the townsfolk and to his minions! He also complicates things with his demeanor of being a tough or uncompromising cattle rancher who turns into a reluctant anti-hero. Though cold and ruthless, he has shown receptiveness towards his fellow humans to fight for survival and reclaim their lands from these invaders (been there done that)!

Their “James Bond” and “Indiana Jones” combo did not work at all! Both gave too serious portrayals on their characters that there was no room for diversity from the main protagonists to have chemistry, even the lead actress looked liked she was high on drugs looking for the answers on how to get rid of these “invading colony”! Olivia Wilde (Tron) is Ella Swenson; involvement in the film makes her only an eye candy that turned sour once she delivered her lines! It felt like she was kind of ill, I would not know if it is her character that she was trying (so hard) to portray or does she need more abs to feel to get her going! New comer Noah Ringer from the “infamous” The Last Airbender was the Sheriff’s grandson Emmett who joins the posse to look for his Grandfather. Wide eyed and poker faced, he makes my skin crawl now and then, his facial expression was indiscernible while making it worse when he talks, he could do his tae kwon do anytime…or find another role to play!

Also, we don’t want to hear anymore why the Indians were suffering, why the Cowboys are out their plundering, it relied on these predicaments heavily that it caused an on-going diversity between the two factions who needed to work together to fight a common enemy! Again, they lingered on this backdrop too much! Daniel was the only standout in the pack with a little credit to Clancy “Lex Luthor” Brown who at first I didn’t recognize at once having that beard on, but once he started talking, his voice lead me to his previous endeavor as Superman’s envious foe…

The only thing that grabbed my attention was definitely the Alien aspect since it’s the proprietary reason for the story to come alive! The scout ships were even like the species they tried to assimilate and conquer; it might be a reason on why and how they adapted to the life of the West capturing anything like a Cowboy with a lasso! The creatures were given a unique look with the help of ILM and through the Supervision of Roger Guyett and Edgar Pasquarello both in the Visual Effects category. Other companies joined in the band wagon to contribute in the film making specifically through production effects and previsualization!

Shane Mahan of Legacy Effects took control of the pupeteering from close up shots to point of contact including fight scenes and ground work! While New Deal Studios inputted their upside down steamer being used to shelter the protagonists, it also included the internal set-up, prop work while coordinating with Scott Chambliss as Head of Production Design seeing that he was able to pull off a remarkable take on Star Trek XI!

Incorporating all of these was from Halon Entertainment’s previs which is the trend right now to minimize production costs building and anticipating draw backs from multiple scenarios, contingencies that will allow film makers to foresee the intended best sequence in the given shots!

This was just a waste of time, another predicament on great actors given bad projects to work on. Jon Favreau should know better since having experienced a sensible, rise to the top career from humble beginnings while surrounding himself with supposedly reputable Writers and an award winning Cinematographer. Well, Platinum Studios is still fighting for survival to stay alive in the Publishing and Licensing business, having incurred losses in millions of dollars since 2006 and 2007! I hope they will give priority to better inclined, received stories for both readers and fans alike since they are making another feature film in “Atlantis Rising” and hopefully this time it keeps them afloat!

Going back, sometimes there are dry spells that we can’t just ignore; we just need to hang up our hats once in a while to get some fresh air on those noggins! A typical ending for the hero to fight another day as he disappears into the horizon… WOW!!! So long Jake, don’t let the spurs hit you…of course only the horse can tell!


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