Sunday, August 07, 2011


COWBOYS VS ALIENS -- gets an 8 for not being super predictable. Two of those points are awarded because the characters continue to shoot aliens with their revolvers even though it is about as effective as shooting a bear with a .22 rifle.  Which is to say it might EVENTUALLY work but it's a bad/scary idea when the monster is running you down... and yet people would do it anyway when it's the only thing they have.

Four obsessive things about COWBOYS VS ALIENS:
which, by the way, I enjoyed after my sister stopped yelling "Dobby!"

whenever she saw Daniel Crag.

1. The sound of his voice
 I, unkindly, cannot help but obsess over Daniel Craig's accent.  Every time the man opens his mouth I wait for him to mess something up or try to detect any minuscule sounds which make it seem false.  I'm not normally this big of a jerk.  I ignore Christian Bale's lisp, have no problem watching all of Dick Van Dyke's Disney movies, and enjoy House without waiting for the brilliant Mr. Laurie to be anything less than perfect.  Mr Craig, however, just doesn't sound true.  And before you can go all Pontius Pilate on me ( I am totally serious about this.  His American accent sounds about as sincere as your average Josh Groban joint -- which is to say not very sincere at all. (Though, to be fair, Mr Groban was pretty sincere when he sang this.)

2. Parental relationships
 Harrison Ford is in this movie and he manages to have the worst son in history.  Like a creepy psychopathic shooting-up-people-for-fun kind of a kid. This is strange because for the rest of the movie you are shown that his character isn't really all that bad a father -- as long as you are okay with him teaching kids how to kill things with knives.   In fact, we get a glowing testimonial as to his ability to be a good father (to someone he thinks he ignored) so it makes his failure with his own son that much more interesting.

I just read this article (How To Land Your Kids In Therapy) the other day and my favorite line from it was "If a therapist is telling you to pay less attention to your kid’s feelings, you know something has gotten way of out of whack.”  It makes me wonder if the character of Harrison Ford's son was written as what happens if someone with PTSD raises a kid around a lot of weaponry or if it actually might be a reflection of some of the young adults we are seeing around us.   Something to think about, anyway.

3. The way it looked
There were an awful lot of shots of Mr Craig's backside.  Seriously, half of the movie was spent looking at his posterior.  This is not a bad thing.  I just think it's kinda funny.  Also funny was the way he and Harrison Ford ran away from an explosion/collapsing tunnel and the only damage was a few shirt buttons (the better to see your naked chest, Daniel m'dear...)  Olivia Wilde looks funky in pioneer-ish clothing, particularly when she's wearing Slash's hat.
I also discovered that it's kind of unsettling to see so much of the aliens.  I think I have gotten used to a lot of shadows and rain covering any computer-generated life forms because it hides the falseness better.  The aliens in COWBOYS VS ALIENS were running around in dusty hot desert sunshine and it was kind of horrible to be able to see them.   Somehow the way their muscles bunched as they ran and the impact of bullets pushing them in different directions was worse when you could see everything well.  I think the fact that the aliens were so meaty was also a change.
I'm used to precise robot-like aliens (like in the 2009 movie HIGH PLAINS INVADERS which happens to have the exact same plot!) which are much more detached and somehow less scary.

I also noticed how the lighting changed from overexposed yellow and shadowy browns to a clear bright white once everyone decided to be the "good guys" and work together to destroy the aliens.  It was very SERENITY.

4. Westerns and character development:
Did you ever see SHANE?  Or the film SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurosawa?  Both of those films have an odd sort of conflict in them.  They preach this "if we all work together we are stronger" principle and yet it takes the sacrifice of one to actually make this idea work.  In these films as well as COWBOYS VS ALIENS, it's only the supporting cast who show any character development.  The hero destined to die doesn't actually change, or even need changing.  Apparently they all just do what they gotta do to get the job done and leave change, progress, and evolution to the folks they left behind.

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