Cowboys and Aliens
Old West Stories has just come from viewing the new Ron Howard Movie, Cowboys and Aliens.
As you will know already if you have visited this site, as its author, I am obviously fascinated with all things to do with The Old West. You may not know that I also like Science Fiction with a particular preference for stories with aliens.
I have been a Harrison Ford fan since the day’s of Star Wars and as an Australian, keen to see Daniel Craig perform well. Well, did her perform well? Old West Stories says yes, he sure did. I never thought he was the best choice for James Bond, he just didn’t seem to fit the style and character that was already so well established. But in this role, Daniel Craig has stamped his style emphatically on the Character of Jake Lonergan.
Set the difficult task of portraying a man who was an outlaw but would become a hero of immense proportions, he carried the role with true old west style and placed his on personal acting style on top for great effect.
Daniel Craig makes a completely convincing cowboy in this movie. Many actors who take on the cowboy role fail because they look like a thoroughly modern man, well presented, good carriage, exuding the best in health. Craig gave the role the convincing edge required for the old west, portraying a character who has suffered, had poor nutrition and probably no health care, walks with caution and hesitancy as well as having the look of a man who is worn by harshness of the time. The real heroes of The Old West, like Wyatt Earp and Sheriff Pat Garret, spent their lives in a harsh environment without modern medical care, accomplished dentists and moisteurising face creams.
From the opening scene, the style of his character is set. When he takes out three armed bounty hunters by hand, the toughness and unforgiving nature of his lead character is set. If you really enjoy a hero in style of Wyatt Earp then this movie is a must see.
If you are looking for something truly original, look else where. This movie is full of the western clichés that make Old West Stories the kind of stories we love. This movie does not stray from the mould except for one very crucial matter. Jake Lonergan, the conquering hero, does not get the girl. His girl does not live through the alien experience but this detracts nothing from the Old West mythology woven skillfully into this script. Just to keep the complete picture for the standard old west stories format, there is a hero who is not revealed in that role until near the end and he does get his girl.
In the climactic scene, which I will not spoil for you in case you have not yet seen the movie, everyone comes together to take on the aliens. The good guys, the bad guys, the naive, the ruthless, a boy, even the Apache Indians and a border collie get together to defend the Earth from an intergalactic enemy they don’t even understand.
Check out the trailer on YouTube. The combination of a gun in one hand and a futuristic alien weapon strapped to his wrist on the other arm is compelling and intriguing.
A touch of nostalgia amused me and left me wondering where the nostalgic Indiana Jones sections came from. Jake Lonergan seems to have an affinity to his hat that I haven’t seen since Indy drove off a cliff and had the had conveniently blow back to him on a whimsical wind. Jake Lonergan keeps his hat with him even when hanging on to a space ship flying over the desert and being dumped into the river. When fleeing from aliens intent on killing him, he can’t leave the hat behind. The similarities are clear but I wonder if this was scripted originally or could be Daniel Craig hinting at his own hero-worship for the icon Harrison Ford.
The mysterious silence of our hero in early stages hints at the torment of alien abduction that is confirmed later in the film. As with many of those who have claimed to have been abducted by aliens for reaL, Lonergan’s memory returns (with the help of a little Apache magic) and he sets about tracking down the alien villains. The end leaves a sequel clearly open as our hero does a “Lucky Luke”, lonesome cowboy ride into the desert.
The Hidden Hero – There is another in this movie in the form of a Border Collie dog. The dog was travelling with three bounty hunters that Jake Lonergan kills in the opening scenes, The dog takes up with him and follows him faithfully.
Through the desert, into town, into the saloon, into battle against horrific aliens with unimaginable power and technology. This dog is a true Border Collie hero.
Border Collies and other dogs formed a crucial part of the way of life that is what Old West Stories is all about. They will in future, have their own tribute page under the Old West Stories, Stories menu.
Apache Indians – I have read reviews that talk about the Indians in this movie being unbelievably co-operative and say they would never have co-operated with white men during this part of history. I venture to say that is completely wrong. The Apache Indians may have been at war but they were never stupid. When an opportunity came along to further their own needs or protect the people, they took. Many historical observers would say it was not the Indians that were unco-operative, it was the Europeans that were greedy and hard to get along with.
Apache Indians also saw magic in all things and what stronger magic could there be than a woman being resurrected after being thrown in a fire. I too would find that convincing and see the magic.
If you want to talk about unbelievable, the movie is full of it but then, this is also what makes it such fun. Particularly unbelievable is the scene when Jake Lonergan takes on an alien in hand to hand combat (and wins) when other scene shows this species taking multiple shows from rifles, .44 Colts and shotguns before going down. Able to take on a horse without too much trouble, he was not good enough to take out Daniel Craig.
Cowboys & Aliens” is rated PG-13 and parents are strongly cautioned regarding younger viewers. The violence is generally stylized however, it is very present from start to finish and I lost track of how many died.
Directed by John Favreau.
Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby.
Based on a screen story by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Steve Oedekerk.
Director of photography Matthew Libatique.
Edited by Dan Lebental and Jim May.
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams.
Released by Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment lasting just shy of 2 hours.
Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan, Harrison Ford as Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, Olivia Wilde as Ella, Sam Rockwell as Doc, Adam Beach as Nat Colorado, Paul Dano as Percy Dolarhyde and Clancy Brown as Meacham.