Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens & Laurie & Me

Yesterday, Monday, was my first official day of staycation (the weekend didn't count) and it was hot, too hot to remain home for very long with a broken central air conditioning unit. So we decided to see a movie, "Cowboys & Aliens" at a matinee.

I had been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard they were making. Then I learned that Spielberg and Ron Howard were producing it. I knew I would be seeing it. Cowboys, aliens, sci fi, it seemed like a perfect match. And it had worked before in numerous movies that you can find in articles elsewhere. A sultry hot summer afternoon, while everyone else was at work, seemed like the perfect time to check it out.

Did I like it? Yes, but...

As we left the theater we followed out another couple our age. The wife turned to her husband and said as she laughed, "Where do I begin?" Laurie laughed and said, "Perfect."

What I liked:
The special effects are amazing. The lassoing of the townspeople is really a very cool effect and appropriate in a western movie genre sort of way. Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are excellent. Olivia Wilde is beautiful.

What I didn't like or was at least lukewarm to:
*there may be minor spoilers*

The plot was trite. Been there, seen that. Their loved ones are abducted. They set out to get them back. Westerns are usually trite. But to send the aliens out looking for gold because it valuable to them? Really? Interstellar claim jumpers?

I read an article in the last few days, and I can't remember where or find it anywhere right now, asking why all the current sci fi movies look the same. All spaceships suffer from the Transformer Syndrome, multiple appendages projecting everywhere and all in constant motion, transforming into different shapes as the amazed earthling watches in awe. It seems like this is the way the superior beats in chest in challenge. The article asked if Hollywood was constructing it's own alien mythos. You do begin to wonder about that. These space ships could have come out of Falling Skies, District 9, Battle LA, and especially all the Transformer movies. Nothing new, it's all too easy now.

The aliens were my biggest disappointment. Why do aliens that are sophisticated enough to send a scout ship to our planet, abduct people for medical study, still run around naked and grunting like a pack of wild gorillas chasing the "good guys" on foot? They climb the walls and run along the ceilings of caves (yes, we've got dark yet dramatically caves in this movie). You see this again and again in sci fi movies. Come on. If humans landed on another planet would we have to strip down to loin clothes and make animal sounds once we land and venture out? Give me a break, sure to a preteen adolescent it might be scary but I was really disappointed. I wait for the intelligent alien deserving of a superior intellect.

Even their physical characteristics are trite. How many variations to we need to see of the alien that HR Giger developed for Ridley Scott's Alien series. That was amazing, scary, creepy, disgusting, but at the time. That was 1979! Why I can't I get anything new?

Should you go see the movie?
Why not? It is a hell of a better concept than watching Neil Patrick Harris sell his soul to the Smurfs.

But if you want something really really fun, stay home and read a good book. May I suggest "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door".

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