29 July 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

Harrison Ford, left, and Daniel Craig are shown in a scene from "Cowboys & Aliens."

“Cowboys & Aliens”—just saying the title is fun, isn’t it? Too bad that’s the only real joy the movie offers.

How did it go so wrong?

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) team up. “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau is at the helm. It’s a mash-up of two of the most iconic genres.

Based on its credentials, boring probably is one of the last things one would expect it to be. But that's exactly what it is: a lifeless Western story injected with uninteresting sci-fi elements.

Craig is our hero, a literal man with no name when we meet him, waking as he does in the middle of the desert with no memory of who he is or how he got there, and a strange metal bracelet stuck on his wrist.

Actors who seem destined for a more intriguing Western populate the nearest town—Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine. There’s also Ford growling his way through the role of Col. Dolarhyde, who is set up as an adversary for our hero, who learns he’s wanted for a smorgasbord of crimes, including murder.

Then aliens come calling in their spaceships and all conflict the movie has spent developing in its first act is tossed aside as everyone bands together to rescue the townsfolk taken captive in the raid.

This material needs a light, irreverent touch a la “Iron Man.” Instead, it’s a dour affair that fails to capture the spirit of either genre.

Greg’s Grade: D

(Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference. 118 minutes.)

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