|Cowboys & Aliens (Extended Edition) (2011)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Wednesday, 23 November 2011|
However, I saw straight through that and knew this film would approach tankness. Approaching the theatrical debut I was bombarded with interviews of just how great this concept was. However, I never heard that it was a great film. Bad sign. In the end, the film failed despite all the hype it received, and perhaps the hype is part of the reason for its downfall.
Director Jon Favreau is a hot commodity in Hollywood with his successes with “Iron Man.” The hope for this film was its director and cast. Unfortunately, those things just couldn’t help the awkwardness of the film. But, if you want to know what happens with Indiana Jones and James Bond go head to head in a the same film, then this is the film for you.
“Cowboys & Aliens” is just plain awkward. It is not a terrible film, but it is certainly a disappointment. This film fits the category “what could have been:” perfectly. I sat through this film imagining what could have been. That is one of the worst things a film can invoke. There are too many “how do the characters know that?” moments. Why are the aliens so interested in smelling the kid? How does Ella know some much about the aliens’ technology and inner-workings? The list goes on.
Jake Lonergan (Craig) is a cowboy who has no memory of his alien abduction. Ella (Wilde) is a mysterious character that provides intel on the aliens and their technology. Dolarhyde (Ford) is a cowboy off to regain his son who has been kidnapped by the aliens.
The plot of “Cowboys & Aliens” is simple and underwhelming. The film unfolds at an inconsistent pace. There are some exciting moments, but then there are far too many flashback and staring/silent moments. We could spend all day and night talking about things the film did and didn’t do correctly. And in the end that is the problem.
Despite the mediocre film quality, the video quality of “Cowboys & Aliens” is top notch. The black levels are the weakest part of the transfer. They can be as dusty as the desert atmosphere. The lack of the deepest black levels limits the depth of the image. Aside from that, the image is quite pleasingly. The colors are accurate to the source, with hues taking on the golden yellows and oranges of the old west. Contrasting those hues are the steel cold blues and silvers of the alien atmosphere. There does not appear to be much in the way of artifacting. There is slight edge enhancement here and there but nothing even worth mentioning. Details and textures are strong, compensating for the minimal depth to the image.
This Blu-ray release comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track that nears perfection. It is technically sound, but it falls just short of giving that awe feeling all the way through. There is some great surround usage during the alien/cowboy battles. The effects are precise and nicely prioritized. The music score is subtle but remains clear. Dialogue is intelligible throughout, but can be a bit spotty here or there. The directionality and panning is spot on. The soundfield is coherent. The LFE channel is full and powerful, though not quite as much so as the recent “Conan The Barbarian” release. The dynamic range is expansive but not startling. This is a terrific audio track.
The Blu-ray release comes with a pretty in depth special features section. This Blu-ray has both the theatrical edition of the film and an extended edition. The extended version contains an additional 15 minutes of material. Unfortunately, the additional minutes only serve to drag out the film. Universal includes a U-Control PiP track, which contains behind the scenes information on the film for about half the runtime of the film. Also included is an audio commentary with director Jon Favreau.
“Conversations With Jon Favreau” is a lengthy batch of interviews. “Igniting The Sky: The Making Of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’” is an extensive, 40-minute documentary covering the story and the visual effects. The package also contains Second Screen and BD-Live functionalities. Also included is a DVD/Digital Copy of the film.
“Cowboys & Aliens” misses as a film but the audio and video qualities of this release are spectacular and should not be missed.