Review: Cowboys & Aliens

Review: Cowboys & Aliens

‘Cowboys & Aliens’ from the very talented Jon Favreau merges two of my favorite genres, Science Fiction, and Westerns – but does it succeed? Based on a graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, the film opens in the fashion of most typical westerns, a character shrouded in mystery rolls into town.

Our stranger is played by Daniel Craig. He wakes up in the middle of the desert, a strange metal object attached at his wrist. We learn quickly that he’s a wanted man, by the law, as well as an influential land owner/cattle man by the name of Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).

The aliens are revealed as a showdown is taking place between the law and Dolarhyde’s men. Alien ships swoop down, snatching up the townspeople. Following the attack, the town puts together a posse to set out and save their friends and family.

The juxtaposition of alien lasers and late 1800s weaponry is amazing. How little affect the humans weapons have on the aliens is fantastic. The story has some interesting twists and turns, and the film has a great start, no doubt due to the talented writers behind the film.

Where the story falls apart is in its third act. Without giving anything away, there are a few twists and turns to get us to the finale, but the path in which we get there is riddled with plot holes. But despite these, the excellent casting and talent and of the actors in this film keeps us engaged.

There is a good mix of puppet work vs CG, but my one gripe with the film is one specific action sequence that involves one of the characters jumping onto the aliens ships. There was something about the effect that definitely took me out of the film.

The film was definitely a good western, but I don’t think it went far enough in staying close to that genre. There is something tragic about many westerns, and ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ was missing that sense of tragedy. Don’t get me wrong, it has its tragedy, but, it definitely felt restrained.

Despite it lacking in some crucial moments, ‘Cowboys & Aliens,’ is an excellent film. Daniel Craig’s performance, coupled with some genuine great moments with a supporting Harrison Ford make this film absolutely worth seeing in theater.

DVD Review: Tron: Legacy

When ‘Tron’ came out from Walt Disney Productions in 1982, must have been quite a sight. Mixing computer generated effects with live action in the scale of the first ‘Tron’ was a major step forward in the types of effects that are quite common place these days.

Does ‘Tron: Legacy’ live up to this standard? As far as anything mind blowing effects wise, I’d say we’ve seen what is at work here before. However, where Tron: Legacy excels is the same way Avatar did, it creates a world that feels very real, and pulls us, the audience in.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, ‘Tron: Legacy’ is the continued story of ‘Tron,’ and focuses primarily on the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund).

Kevin Flynn, the creator of Tron disappeared one night working late at his office, leaving Sam to grow up an orphan, but, also the largest single stock holder for ENCOM, his fathers company. Using his resources, he maintains his fathers legacy, but disrupting and causing trouble to make sure things at the company stay the way his father would have wanted him.

His fathers friend, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxletiner) comes to Sam to tell him that he received a mysterious page from the old arcade, where his fathers office was. Sam goes to investigate, and finds himself pulled into The Grid, the world his father always spoke of creating. The Grid is in major disarray, and his father, trapped by Clu 2, essentially a clone of Kevin.

If that sounds complicated, it really isn’t. The film does a great job of making the story accessible to all ages (the PG rating helps as well). Also, do no not fret if you haven’t seen the original (or even if its been years). I think the last time I saw the original Tron I was in grammar school, but I was totally attune to what was going on.

The style and production design here is stellar. From the costumes and make up, the architecture of the world. Everything feels real, shots are composed at stark level angles, and the world just broods.

3D doesn’t always work for me, while it worked in ‘Avatar,’ it didn’t in ‘Piranha 3D,’ well the 3D here is great. Much of the real world is in 2D, and things only gain depth once you enter The Grid. I applaud that decision, much like in ‘Wizard of Oz’ when things only are in color in Oz, it separates the two worlds very well.

The music is composed by French duo Daft Punk, and fits the world to the T. I’d listened to the soundtrack prior to the film, but hearing it again in the context of the film was much better.

Garret Hedlund is entertaining and fit for the part of Sam, but the character I really fell in love with was Quora (Olivia Wilde). Wilde has been a favorite of mine for a while, and this film will only push her more into the limelight. She’s more then just a pretty face, Wilde has talent, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of it. Also, I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Bridges, and seeing him play both a young version of himself (thanks to fancy CG work), and today, was stellar.

The pacing of the film towards the middle was a bit slow, and action sequences were spread out. But this didn’t hurt any part of the enjoyment for me. At its core, this is a fun sci-fi adventure that is great entertainment.

Review: Tron: Legacy

Review: Tron: Legacy

When ‘Tron’ came out from Walt Disney Productions in 1982, must have been quite a sight. Mixing computer generated effects with live action in the scale of the first ‘Tron’ was a major step forward in the types of effects that are quite common place these days.

Does ‘Tron: Legacy’ live up to this standard? As far as anything mind blowing effects wise, I’d say we’ve seen what is at work here before. However, where Tron: Legacy excels is the same way Avatar did, it creates a world that feels very real, and pulls us, the audience in.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, ‘Tron: Legacy’ is the continued story of ‘Tron,’ and focuses primarily on the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund).

Kevin Flynn, the creator of Tron disappeared one night working late at his office, leaving Sam to grow up an orphan, but, also the largest single stock holder for ENCOM, his fathers company. Using his resources, he maintains his fathers legacy, but disrupting and causing trouble to make sure things at the company stay the way his father would have wanted him.

His fathers friend, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxletiner) comes to Sam to tell him that he received a mysterious page from the old arcade, where his fathers office was. Sam goes to investigate, and finds himself pulled into The Grid, the world his father always spoke of creating. The Grid is in major disarray, and his father, trapped by Clu 2, essentially a clone of Kevin.

If that sounds complicated, it really isn’t. The film does a great job of making the story accessible to all ages (the PG rating helps as well). Also, do no not fret if you haven’t seen the original (or even if its been years). I think the last time I saw the original Tron I was in grammar school, but I was totally attune to what was going on.

The style and production design here is stellar. From the costumes and make up, the architecture of the world. Everything feels real, shots are composed at stark level angles, and the world just broods.

3D doesn’t always work for me, while it worked in ‘Avatar,’ it didn’t in ‘Piranha 3D,’ well the 3D here is great. Much of the real world is in 2D, and things only gain depth once you enter The Grid. I applaud that decision, much like in ‘Wizard of Oz’ when things only are in color in Oz, it separates the two worlds very well.

The music is composed by French duo Daft Punk, and fits the world to the T. I’d listened to the soundtrack prior to the film, but hearing it again in the context of the film was much better.

Garret Hedlund is entertaining and fit for the part of Sam, but the character I really fell in love with was Quora (Olivia Wilde). Wilde has been a favorite of mine for a while, and this film will only push her more into the limelight. She’s more then just a pretty face, Wilde has talent, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of it. Also, I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Bridges, and seeing him play both a young version of himself (thanks to fancy CG work), and today, was stellar.

The pacing of the film towards the middle was a bit slow, and action sequences were spread out. But this didn’t hurt any part of the enjoyment for me. At its core, this is a fun sci-fi adventure that is great entertainment. Tron: Legacy is a film that can equally be enjoyed by young and old, and definitely a summer popcorn popping blockbuster in the midst of the winter season.

DVD Review: Year One

DVD Review: Year One

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History is, according to the saying, written by the winners, but what if instead it was written by the losers?  Such is the premise of Harold Ramis’ latest comedy, “Year One.” [Read more…]