A review would indicate that I am being critical [in the 'evaluative' sense] of the movie. This? Is not a movie you bring your brain to. In fact, it’s best to hire a brainsitter and leave it at home entirely with a set of PBS videos, or something.
The reviews were in, and they were, well, bad. Or, mostly bad, with a few flashes of “well I liked it.” And so, with some doubt but no hesitations, last night a stalwart bunch of us, fortified with beer, went to see the 10pm showing of COWBOYS AND ALIENS.
It is, indeed, a rather bad movie. The dialogue flattens the occasional spark of wit with a layer of dull and predictable exchanges, and every time you think that they have the chance to do something original with the plot, they turn it down in favor of a cliche. The scenes with the Native Americans veered dangerously close to patronizing (saved, IMO, only by the fact that the Indian chief whomps the hell out of Dollarhyde’s (Ford’s) ego, and in the end the two men are co-leaders of their crew, not White Man Trumps). The number of women in this film can be counted on one hand, and still have a finger left to be rude.* And the science of all this just… yeah. Nevermind.
And WTF with the hummingbird? And the boat? And….
However….. It is also a surprisingly fun movie. There are some lovely sparks of What Could Have Been in the dialogue. The cinematography was gorgeous. Harrison Ford rocks the cranky old man role (with flashes of the Han Solo grin). Daniel Craig manages his man-of-mystery-to-himself role equally well, and has one of the finer backsides** in Hollywood today. And the supporting cast does the best they can with what they’re given.
Oh, and pretty horses. And actors who can ride. This? Cannot be underestimated in a Western, however genrebending.
In short, this is not a movie that asks you to take it seriously. It is not masquerading as having a Higher/Deeper meaning (I’m looking at you, Avatar.) It invites you to butter your popcorn, kick back, and have a bit of fun. And – of the 10 people in our group – 6 did (and 1 was on the fence).
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the previews for BATTLESHIP. I’m not sure “stunned and slightly derisive laughter” was quite what the filmmakers were hoping for as audience reaction.
*ok, this (and the treatment of Indians) is part of the Western genre. I still say they could have managed it better.
**hey, I never said I wasn’t occasionally shallow. And they put him in close-fitting pants and leather chaps. Was I supposed to NOT look?