COWBOYS & ALIENS - Fusion Cinema
COWBOYS & ALIENS (mixed genre thriller)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford,Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Abigail Spencer, Ana de la Reguera and Noah Ringer
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Steve Oedekerk based on the comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
Time: 118 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Fusion food seems to be the rage these days, judging by the crowd at such restaurants. It is time they come up with 'fusion cinema' and you get a taste of it with Cowboys & Aliens - a mix of the Western and Sci-fi Horror genres.
To be sure, this one is a blend of a mediocre cowboy flick with a derivative outer space thriller (of Alien, Predators, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, to name just a few) but the result is an entertaining mishmash that does not take itself seriously. Directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau Cowboys & Aliens is therefore for those who do not take such nonsense seriously.
SYNOPSIS: A craggy cowboy (Daniel Craig) awakes in the New Mexico desert and finds that he has no memory of how he got a bloody wound on his side and a metal bracelet on his wrist. A faded photograph of a woman provides some sense of connection to a recent past but he still cannot remember anything, not even his own name.
When he gets to a dusty town aptly named Absolution, he has his wound fixed by a kind preacher (Clancy Brown) and encounters some unsavoury types the likes of Ella (Olivia Wilde), a woman who stalks him, seeking information; Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), the spoilt brat son of grumpy cattle-baron Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and a no-nonsense sheriff (Keith Carradine) and his grandson (Noah Ringer).
And as soon as the dramatis personae are introduced, the UFOs arrive and the mayhem starts. What's happening isn't important; the fact that it is happening is!
HITS & MISSES: Favreau cleverly targets our interest on Craig's mysterious character - and reveals bits and pieces of the puzzle as the movie goes along. He does the same for the alien monsters - we gradually see more and more of them until it feels like Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind.
Favreau also has a wink to Clint Eastwood's spaghetti western in the way the characters are written - and performed. Craig is the silent hero, Wilde the mystery woman, and then there is the faithful native American played by Adam Beach as Col. Dolarhyde's foreman; the peace-loving salon-keeper (Sam Rockwell) and his Mexican wife (Ana de la Reguera) - all fleshing out their role credibly, except for Ford who goes through the entire movie sporting his signature sneer. While Craig still has his Bond-like looks and charm, Ford has lost his Hans Solo and Indy Jones allure. Wilde (left), of course, is just as captivating and enigmatic as she was in Tron.
THE LOWDOWN: Brace yourself for more of such hybrid or 'rojak' films.