Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!

Before you even start with me, stop. Yes, I was warned this movie was ‘crap’, ‘silly’ and ‘a waste of money’. But seeing as I like cowboys, and I like aliens, and I dislike people telling me what I do and don’t like, I went to see it anyway.

And so, dear reader, here is my official write-up. In the grand tradition I started aeons ago but have sadly neglected for the past few millennia, I will attempt to sum up the entire movie in three words.


Daniel Craig in leather chaps, with revolvers? Bargain. Daniel Craig doing American and getting away with it? Done. Harrison Ford being the wild west’s crustiest old fucker - with a hat, no less? BONUS. I could not find a single thing wrong with any of the cowboys - even Young Boy wasn’t annoying. Sam Rockwell was understated and dependable as always, and everyone played their roles with credible confidence. Clancy Brown, still looking the same, got some rather hammy lines in the beginning, but that just set the tone for the fun and frolics that was about to ensue. And I have to say, I bloody loved it. It was quirky, off-beat at times and seriously fucked-up genre-bending at others. Which means it was less than totally predictable and good, in my book. It wasn’t something you take seriously. In fact, it was just another disposable blockbuster. But that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.

The side-plot of purr wee The-Son-I-Never-Had was actually pretty good, too, even if it seemed as though it were laid on thick at times - but then, what else do you want from a Western? Mr Lonergan’s back story was revealed in tasty chunks, giving you enough clues to work out there was a shit cloud coming, and that was all fine too. I actually liked the twist of why the aliens were there - it made a change from the usual taking-over-the-world bollocks.

Daniel Craig does very well as the laconic or taciturn type, and I think the role suited him just fine. (A few Gratuitous Butt Shots were a bonus - as was Mr Craig splashing himself clean at a few points. Girls, you know which points I mean.) I like my heroes to be one-word, mardy gehts, and he does it excellently. Harrison Ford had Crotchety Bugger in spades, and it was a downright joy to see him on the screen in a role he could have fun with.

In fact, the only gripe I have concerning the cowboys of the piece was how they all just went with the idea of FLYING MACHINES without going ‘I’ll never get used to seeing something fly over my head that’s not a bird’ or somesuch. But hey-ho, let’s go alien hunting.


Poke fun at tales of people being abducted and experimented on: check. Proper ee-vil aliens, like full-on ‘fru-its of the dev-il’: check. A bad guy who comes back to get revenge on the hero (or ‘anti-hero’, maybe?): check. A good reason to be there: check. A spaceship designed for the task rather than looking like someone drew it thinking it’d look pretty, but had no idea what it was supposed to be used for? CHECK.

They were different enough without being silly - I liked the touch (pun intended) with the extra hands. I liked that there was no effort to make up a language or show the internal social structure of the race - you saw what you needed to see. No need to fill it with exposition shite just to pretend you’re all looking for Oscars. Everyone knows you’re not; why waste film?

Even the twist of the alien coming back to life was not outrageous to me - it worked because of the reaction it got from the cast. If that character had been the same as everyone else, I might have been disappointed in the story. The ending certainly separated this film from a million other blockbusters. A little Alien-3-esque, perhaps, but worth it.

It was more Hollywood in other places: the Orphan Child survived, the Dog Came Back, some people Took A Level In Badass, the whole thing was Rated M for Manly… but none of these is by far a bad thing. All in all, I bloody enjoyed it. It was a nice surprise from what I’d been told to expect.


I liked the brevity. (Daniel Craig does Dead-Pan Snarker WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO SPEAK, PEOPLE.) I liked the minimalist dialogue and opportunity to fill in the gaps by myself. Unfortunately, the woman sat two seats down from me in the cinema needed her man (next to me) to give her a running commentary, as apparently she had eyes and ears but could not make them work together to interpret what happened on the screen into a series of events. She seemed upset the film was ‘difficult to understand’. She had subtitles for MEANING, not slang - that’s all I’m saying.

As for me, it was a visual treat, because no, I don’t need constant plot points spelt out. No, I don’t need the lead character(s) to give huge chunks of exposition and then fill in any grey areas for me. No, I don’t need the actors to tell me exactly how they’re feeling - since I was born I’ve been able to work that out myself, using things such as body language and experience with people’s expressions and noises. So go screw yourself, people who wanted to be told what was happening every step of the way - learn to watch a film. It’s not rocket science.

Just for the record, this film’s script was penned (‘typed’?) by no less than Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two of my own personal favourites, seeing as they’ve doled out stuff like Xena, new Hawaii Five-O and The Fringe and such complete fucking victories as Star Trek (2009).

In summary, then: great. I’m not saying everyone will enjoy watching it - I know for a fact that most people seemed to have jumped on the bandwagon and bitched and moaned about it afterwards (see my opening point of finding two things I liked IN THE TITLE OF THE BLOODY FILM and deciding I wanted to see it - and then finding that is did EXACTLY WHAT IT SAID ON THE TIN). However, I am saying that I fucking loved it and yes, I will be buying the Blu-ray disc when it comes out. It’s not for everyone, but then, I couldn’t care. It suited me and my two mates whom I went with, and that’s what counts in the entertainment world.

That’s me done. I really should get back to blogging more frequently; this is fun.

Peach and lube, people. Peach and frelling lube.

(Especially you, Daniel Craig.)


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