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Guest DVD Review: ‘Cowboys & Aliens’

Release Doesn’t Do Much to Improve a Summer Flop

Above: Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford star in the sci-fi/ western flick, "Cowboys & Aliens."

Guest blogger Jeff Murray gives his review of the Blu-Ray/DVD release of "Cowboys & Aliens" (out December 6th).

I really wanted this film to win.

I’m a long-time lover of gritty comic books, country-western landscape shots, destructive alien invasions, the stone-faced Daniel Craig, the iconic Harrison Ford, climactic gun fights, and even Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” (2008). But the consensus is in: “Cowboys and Aliens” is a loss.

In Favreau’s recently released sci-fi/ western mesh, Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) stumbles into the ranching town of Absolution with a warrant out for his arrest, a strange metal bracelet strapped to his arm, and a memory gone blank. Along the bumpy ride, the movie holds true to classic westerns with several scenic camera shots and impressive special effects, but what ultimately follows is a haphazard shift between sci-fi and western that fails as a result of shoddy storytelling, a poor script, and letdown performances from typically strong actors.

Here's the trailer of the film to jog your memory.

The film was released in late June and I figure there’s not much else to be said about it’s theatrical disappointment. The DVD and Blue-Ray of the film are released today and I wasn’t too impressed with that either.

Included within the DVD and Blu-Ray discs are an extended version (2 hours. and 15 minutes running time) of the film that wasn’t released in theaters; candid conversations between the cast, producers and Jon Favreau; “Igniting the Sky: The Making of Cowboys and Aliens;” and feature commentary with Jon Favreau. Much of these bonus materials are standard DVD space occupiers with not much meat to offer the starved sci-fi, western or comic book junkies.

The feature, “Igniting the Sky: The Making of Cowboys and Aliens," does a fair job at showcasing the tricks of making an action flick but also displays some of the movie’s lack of innovation. Sure, the filmmakers were able to use some of the most modern special effects technology -- thanks to deep pocketed producers like Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard -- but most of it has been exhausted in previous popcorn movies like “Transformers” or “Iron Man” already. However, if you are interested in watching Paul Dano or Olivia Wilde do their own 80-foot spring-wire stunt or Favreau attempt to recreate Michael Bay alien explosions, you may enjoy this feature more than I did.

Another major disappointment for me was that much more of the bonus content should have been dedicated to the comic book, “Cowboys and Aliens," on which the film was based. I mean, why wasn’t there an entire section dedicated to how the film and comic are different? What about a spot with Jon Favreau talking with the creators of the comic book? Did they use the comic as a storyboard for the film? How did the comic art affect the film art? Why isn’t any of this explained!?!?

“Cowboys and Aliens” (rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, come partial nudity and a brief crude reference) is released to further frustrate any hopeful western or sci-fi fans on Blu-Ray and DVD today.

Comments

Avatar for user 'BD Cruz'

BD Cruz | December 6, 2011 at 12:32 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

I would say, wait for the Criterion collection, but does C&A deserve that treatment?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 7, 2011 at 8:10 a.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Cruz, surely you jest, Jess.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | December 7, 2011 at 9:56 a.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

He sure does.

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Avatar for user 'TedBurke'

TedBurke | December 7, 2011 at 10:54 a.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

Cowboys and Aliens was soundly trashed by critics and viewers when it was released to theaters, and it bombed , as it should have. It was without charm or wonder, rather odd since the director brought energy and humor to the two Iron Man movies. Exactly why this film needs to be given yet another bad review with the blue ray/dvd release is beyond me, though. Better to let this film slip into the abyss. There are always new films that should command a young reviewer's attention.

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Avatar for user 'Jeffrey Murray'

Jeffrey Murray | December 7, 2011 at 1:10 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

Good question Ted, I think what caused me to review the DVD was to try and curb any curious consumers from using this movie as a stocking stuffer, like a Christmas saving crusade.

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