Thursday, August 4, 2011

Very Cranky at the Movies

What's worse than a genre movie filled with stereotypes, worn-out tropes, plot developments that are unmotivated and make no sense, and a sappy and false "moral"?

Two such movies stuck together.

COWBOYS AND ALIENS is terrible. Not just run-of-the-mill terrible, but truly truly terrible. We are asked to accept [SPOILERS AHEAD]:

That a man who in his opening scene drags an innocent man to death behind a horse, is in fact just a gruff old guy with a heart of gold.

That a star-faring race that can cross galaxies has no better way to capture humans for "study" than to lasso them. With rope.

That such star-faring aliens (scaly, green, and unarmed, of course) would equip Daniel Craig with a weapon whose sole value is to wipe out alien equipment and facilities.

That if only aliens had invaded the Old West, then whites, Indians, Mexicans, and the odd border collie would have all cooperated and come to value each other's unique humanity.

I could go on and on, but I won't. It's too discouraging. With that money and that talent (Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford) the filmmakers might have made a worthwhile genre film, one which not only made sense but which kept explosions to a necessary minimum. But, then, they never do, do they?


Unknown said...

I thought it was fine, but I also turned my brain off going in.

TheOFloinn said...

The aliens did not equip Mr. Craig; rather, he seized it in his initial escape (as we learned near the end).

The aliens were miners, not soldiers, so I could buy them not being armed to the teeth; but not the way they were portrayed.

Harrison Ford's character divide was the hardest to swallow.

But remember, this was based on a comic book. And in a visual medium iconic poses matter more than logos.

Nancy Kress said...

He seized it and it somehow got fastened onto his wrist until she kisses him hard enough for it to fall off?

I cannot believe, Mike, that you are defending this dreck.

TheOFloinn said...

It fastened automatically. How the kiss made it fall off, I don't recall, neither do I as a faithful Analog-type do I condone. Like I said, it's a comic book; and in the New Post-Modern Age, icon matters more than logos. All part of the Untergang.

EA Hirsch said...

I bypassed C&A to go see Attack the Block, instead. If you're looking for something SF to wash that nasty schlock taste out of your mouth, then I highly recommend Attack the Block. It's a fresh take on the invasion scenario. In London!

Grenacia said...

I thought the moral of the movie was, "Even though we're all assholes, we can still work together to save the planet as necessary". Most of the characters are NOT likeable, and the ones that are have other flaws. But I ever thought they were SUPPOSED to be likeable.

Oh, and I thought the kiss was just to distract his mind from its interface with the wristlet so she could use some unspecified alien power to remove it.

Lou said...

No, they never do.

Robert Mitchell Evans said...

In addtion to your points Nancy the ...ah hem.. reasons why the aliens are here bothering us was barely betetr than 'they're her for our water' crap that keeps popping up.
Gold? really? The aliens, unarmed and fighting with tooth and claw are a bunch of Gold bugs?
I liked the actors, but the script stank worse than a tuan sandwich left out for a week.

James A. Ritchie said...

I admit it. I loved the movie, and Harrison Ford's character. Just because he makes a mistake and and drags an innocent man to death doesn't mean he's all bad. We all have our oops moments.

And you can't have too many explosions.

Andy Duncan said...

"It's [just] a comic book" is a cop-out, as is "It's just science fiction" or "It's just a police procedural" or "It's just a thriller." Genre work is not uniformly bad, and it is not beyond criticism.

And while we might approach a comic-book adaptation differently from, say, a Jane Austen adaptation, we still have to hold it to the highest standards of comic-book adaptations: to The Dark Knight, for example, rather than The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the movie Cowboys vs. Aliens more resembles).

So I say: You go, Nancy! Of course, I've been saying that for years.