Tag Archives: Clancy Brown

Cowboys & Aliens

28 Aug

Title: Cowboys & Aliens
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Jon Favreau
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on a screen story by Mr. Fergus, Mr. Ostby and Steve Oedekerk, based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
Starring: 
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine, Noah Ringer, Adam Beach, Abigail Spencer, Ana de la Reguera, Walton Goggins
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference
Runtime: 
118 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
45%

You can go right ahead and write down Cowboys & Aliens as one of the biggest disappointments of the 2011 movie year. To be perfectly honest it wasn’t a bad film, I liked parts of it a fair bit, but the truth is that I was majorly excited for this film, I thought it would be one of the funnest two hours spent in the theater, and I had been thinking that for a while now, so to finally get to see it and get this was a huge let down. I mean, look at it on paper and it’s just a geek dream-team made in heaven. You have a self-explanatory title that promises to marry the western and sci-fi genres in one insanely nifty adventure. You have Jon Favreau, he who directed the first two Iron Man films, calling the shots. You have a script by the two guys who wrote the latest Star Trek, the guy who spearheaded Lost, and another two-guy team that were the ones that did the screenplay for the first, and best, Iron Man film and the Oscar-nominated one of the masterpiece that was Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. And then you have all of that on-screen talent as well: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Walton Goggins… this seemed too good to be true, and ultimately, it was.

Seriously, I was ridiculously excited about this film, the whole concept, the whole team assembled to make it, that awesome first trailer. And then we get this, a truly uneven film that while certainly not all bad, certainly didn’t live up to its potential. I don’t really know what it was, maybe it was the fact that even though all five screenwriters are pretty genius, they were still five different people collaborating on a single project (and regular readers may be aware of how much I dislike films with that many writers), maybe it was the fact that Mr. Favreau, no matter how wicked cool he is, apparently wasn’t ready to really handle the tonality changes that were such a big part of this movie and was brought down by his own ambition. I don’t know, really, all I know is that Cowboys & Aliens wasn’t the geek dream I was looking forward to watching multiple times on the theater and then getting my hands on the blu-ray the minute it was released.

The whole thing just lacked the incredible pacing that would be really necessary to accomplish a successful mesh of these two disparate genres, because the way it was done, Cowboys & Aliens was just a mash-up of two genres, but not a very smart one, because for all of its ambitions of envelope-pushing concepts, it was still too tied down to the formula of today’s blockbusters, which in turned meant that it could really give us not much of a cool western and not much of a cool sci-fi, either. And again, I’m pained to say that this really falls mostly on Mr. Favreau, I mean, sure, the script probably could have been better considering the talent assembled to pen it, but as a director it was his job to really achieve a neat balance of these two genres, and for the vast majority of this film it seemed as though he was just a fanboy interested in filming some guys with pistols on horses next to a CGI-created spaceship and having things blow up. And, don’t get me wrong, that’s all good and fun, but it’s really not much else, and it’s only good and fun for a limited amount of time.

The acting I thought pretty awesome, though, and it’s what made me like Cowboys & Aliens to whatever level I ultimately did. I mean, Mr. Craig and Mr. Ford were pretty much meant to play their roles, even though they don’t bring much other than their natural predisposition to play them to the film, and the supporting cast features Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Paul Dano and Walton Goggins, who are all outstanding actors who always rock supporting roles and that, if you get to think about it, are the sort of actors who would actually be incredible in actual westerns if anyone actually still made those films today. And, to be honest, as much a sci-fi geek as I may be, and as much as I loved the idea of marrying these two when I first heard of it, I now fully believe that Cowboys & Aliens would have been a much better film without the alien part of the title, and instead as a straight-up western with all of the same players involved.

I won’t really get into the plot at all, if you’ve seen the trailers you actually get all you need to know from them no matter how mysterious they’re made out to play as. If you see this film you may have your fair bit of fun, it warrants it to be honest, but you’ll also feel as though you should have gotten something better, and not just an exercise by Mr. Favreau with a humongous budget in taking his time to get to a predictable cowboys vs. aliens climax, that once it arrives will be pretty well-made and loud, but will offer essentially no thrills. Maybe I would have like this film a bit better had I seen it on a different day, but today was also the day I saw the outstanding Attack the Block, which was a tremendously well-done alien movie with a low budget but that succeeded in all the places this one failed because it knew how to execute its formula. Perhaps if this one would have been smart enough to just stick to the western bits, it would have fared the same way, instead it’s just a so-so movie when it should have been a pretty awesome one.

Grade: B-

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Green Lantern

29 Jun

Title: Green Lantern
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Martin Campbell
Writers: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, Michael Goldenberg, with story by Mr. Berlanti, Mr. Green and Mr. Guggenheim, based on the comic book by John Broome and Gil Kane
Starring: 
Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan, Clancy Brown
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Runtime: 
114 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
26%

 

Ugh. That about sums up my overall experience with the Green Lantern movie. No, it’s not the worst film of the year, not even close, but as a comic book fan who’s extremely fond of this character, I sure as hell was thoroughly disappointed. Seriously, this is a character I adore, he might even be my favorite DC Comics staple, or at the very least right up there with Batman, and other than Spider-Man he may just be about my favorite comic book character ever. And yet what we got here is a film that had a huge budget but that did absolutely nothing with it, totally squandering the incredible opportunities embedded within the deep comic book mythology available in favor of just this very noisy and badly written spectacle in which you just know every penny available was spent in the effects and not to flesh out the story.

And look, even the effects with the $200 million budget and everything actually look very flat, add that to the fact that the writing was just plain bad, the direction totally uninvolved and the fact that Ryan Reynolds’ charm was just put to basically no use and you have a film that, while certainly more than fine to kill an afternoon with, still doesn’t even get close to achieving its full potential, and I was left feeling very disappointed by what they did to one of my favorite superheroes, and I want someone to reboot this franchise now. I won’t hate on it that much because there were still a couple of good things, but I just need to vent my frustration about those good things not being plain awesome, and not being nowhere near enough of them to begin with.

In the past I have talked a lot about my dislike of screenplays written by a team of more than two people, I generally dislike every single thing that comes out of such a conglomerate, and while there certainly have been some exceptions to that rule in the recent past (like last year’s Love and Other Drugs or How to Train Your Dragon, for instance), this one just isn’t. And what’s worse is that it’s not as though the four guys who contributed to this one are any bad, you have Greg Berlanti, known for his television work in quality shows he spearheaded like Eli Stone and Jack & Bobby, then you have Michael Green, a collaborator of Mr. Berlanti’s on some of his shows and a comic book writer, Marc Guggenheim, who much like Mr. Green has worked on those TV shows before and also writes comic books, and Michael Goldenberg, who adapted the fifth Harry Potter movie. So, you see, I had high hopes for this script, it had a blend of a guy who had successfully adapted a popular property before, two guys who had experience in the comic book world and certainly knew about the mythology, and a guy who had created TV shows that were all about character development. And yet they got together and created this thinly-written work that I just can’t see anyone liking. Again, a team of more than two to write a screenplay is usually not the brightest move.

On the one hand you have Hal Jordan here on Earth, the character played by Mr. Reynolds, who’s a pretty damn good test pilot for this crazy fighter jets who he flies next to Carol, played by Blake Lively, who’s actually the daughter of the man who makes these jets. But at first what happens on Earth really isn’t all that important, because the real critical stuff is happening in a whole other part of the universe, in which the Green Lantern Corps have been created to combat Parallax, the evil alien trying to envelop the universe in evil. A member of the Corps is then sent to Earth, so as to a find a worthy human of joining their group, but after a dangerous journey across the galaxy he barely makes it to Earth, and dies soon after entrusting Hal with the green ring and green lantern, which he’ll soon enough find out are tremendously powerful, but will have a hard time knowing to trust and trying to access that power.

And of course trying to really cram this all up in a two hour film would be difficult, because you obviously can’t buy Hal being so chill as he understands and takes in all the stuff the green lantern can do, but this is a movie that can’t afford him not getting it real fast, and it really does try its best to explain the logic behind it all, but you just know it’s only doing that so that it can then zoom ahead and create some expensive special effects sequence. And that’s really all that you get after that first part of the movie is done, a very expensive and green lights and sound show, but that’s not even nicely done because the stuff that Hal creates with his will and the ring just look silly a lot of the times, and you can’t really buy into all the supposed seriousness of the task at hand.

I won’t go on longer about this one, because I feel like we already should have known what to expect, and it’s on me feeling disappointed because I held out some hope for this character because I love him. But yeah, it’s not like we got world-class acting or dialogue with any real substance, we’ll get our villains, our PG-13 appropriate kisses and our special effects showcase, but not much more. But I don’t really know if I’ll recommend this one to you, probably not, I mean it would be somewhat recommendable for those initial scenes in deep space because the CGI there is pretty kickass, but once the CGI has to adapt itself to a bit more rules of logic when the movie gets back to Earth, the results aren’t even that great, no matter how immense its budget. And, again, this is a film with Ryan Reynolds that didn’t really let him turn on the charm like he has before, and that’s the guy’s greatest asset, so there’s that. I hear that Warner Bros. is already thinking about a sequel, even though they’re obviously seeing the results of this one, both critically and commercially, as a disappointment, and I would love for them to scratch that idea, but not give up on the character. This superhero deserves better, and so do we.

Grade: C+