Cowboys & Aliens, Blu-ray (2011)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Abigail Spencer, Buck Taylor
Director: Jon Favreau
Studio: Universal 61119119 [12/6/11] (2 discs)
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced 1080p HD
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD 2.0, Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Extras: Commentary track by Jon Favreau, Conversations with Jon Favreau, “Igniting the Sky” – The Making of Cowboys & Aliens, Digital copy, Second Screen interactive viewing experience, “Flick View,” BD-Live, D-BOX, U-Control picture-in-picture, Pocket Blu App, Includes extended version not seen in theaters
Length: Theatrical – 1 hr. 59 mins.; Extended – 2 hrs. 15 mins.
I hadn’t paid much attention to this flick, due to both its title and seeing that it was another adaptation of a comic book or graphic novel. However, I found it great fun and quite original. Nobody seems to have thought of combining these two standard movie ideas of the past many decades into one whiz-bang feature, but here it is, and it works. The director won allocades for his handling of a previous comicbook source as a feature: Iron Man.
Filmed in the hills of New Mexico, where numerous Westerns were shot, Cowboys & Aliens opens in 1873 with gunslinger Lonergan (Craig) waking up with what he thinks is a gunshot wound and a strange metal bracelet on his left arm. He can’t remember anything—even his name. He goes into the little desert town of Absolution, lorded over by Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford), and soon finds himself arrested as a stagecoach robber.
Just as he is being hauled away to justice, the town is brutally attacked by alien ships, who lasso and abduct helpless townspeople just like the cowboys do cattle. They are after the gold, just like he was. Lonergan, with his bracelet which turns out to be an effective weapon against the aliens, seems to be the one hope for fighting the aliens, who are bent of destroying the entire town. With the help of an elusive young lady he is able to bring together Dolarhyde’s henchmen, his own group of outlaws, some of the townspeople, and even a band of Apache Indians to create a posse united against their common enemies. The CGI aliens are far from E.T.s—they are slimy, awful creatures similar to the ones in the Alien franchise. (In fact the scene inside the overturned sternwheeler is very similar to the stalking of the alien in Alien.) The final showdown isn’t as compelling as the first three-quarters of the film, but it keeps things going to a conclusion that seems slightly dragged out.
The hi-res surround is active and immersing, but some of the many very dark scenes lost details, which when increased in brightness resulted in over-brightness in the sunny outdoor scenes. There were as many previews and promotions to slog thru to get to the feature as with most Disney Blu-rays.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.