4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2014
COWBOYS & ALIENS  [Blu-ray] [UK Release] Extended Director's Cut! Brilliant!
From the Director of `Iron Man' and `Chef' comes and action-packed, sci-fi adventure starring Daniel Craig [`Quantum of Solace' and `The Golden Compass'], Harrison Ford [`Morning Glory' and `Indian Jones and the Crystal Skull'] and Olivia Wilde [`Tron Legacy'] as the only posse who can save the world from an alien invasion. With cutting edge special effects and one-of-a-kind story. `Cowboys & Aliens' is a showdown you won't want to miss.
FILM FACT: Cowboys & Aliens received five nominations. At the 39th Annie Awards, the film was nominated in Animated Effects in a Live Action Production for both Gary Wu and Lee Uren. The film received nominations from the Art Directors Guild for Fantasy Film, honouring production designer Scott Chambliss, and for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture at the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Harrison Ford received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine, Noah Ringer, Adam Beach, Abigail Spencer, Ana de la Reguera, Walton Goggins, Julio Cedillo, David O'Hara, Raoul Trujillo, Hoyle Osborne and Rex Rideout
Director: Jon Favreau
Producers: Alex Kurtzman, Brian Grazer, Roberto Orci, Ron Howard and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Hawk Ostby, Mark Fergus and Roberto Orci
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography: Matthew Libatique
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 [Anamorphic]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description, German: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Suomi and Swedish
Running Time: 135 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray review - The intermingling of genres like science-fiction and the western is really nothing new in movies, but the CGI-laden 'Cowboys & Aliens' aims to feel like something audiences haven't seen before. While not exactly as intelligently topical as Michael Crichton's 'Westworld' or amusingly subtle as Joss Whedon's 'Serenity,' Jon Favreau's action flick brings a good deal of engaging entertainment and exciting spectacle to the proceedings. It might not please every viewer out there, but it satisfies the wide-eyed fantasies of long-time devoted followers of both genres (or at least, of this particular viewer).
The films genre-mashup is quite overt and in your face, which could be seen as a bit of a drawback because it definitely shows a lack of finesse. It commences with a western theme and setting, suddenly switching to an alien invasion storyline that runs through the usual obstacle course. The change is surprisingly not as jarring as one would reasonably expect, although it takes some time to find its proper footing afterwards. The glue holding the marriage together is Jon Favreau's direction infused with several stylish nods to the archetypes and thematic of both styles, ranging again from explicit to sly.
Daniel Craig stars as our Man with No Name hero in the literal sense, waking up in the middle of a scorching desert without any recollection of who he is or why he carries a mysterious iron bracelet on his wrist. After a quickly determined fight with three bounty hunters, a clue into his past is revealed which nicely sets off that whole morally-ambiguous protagonist feel we love in a good 'ole shoot 'em up horse opera. Wearing Indiana Jones' fedora, the mystery man rides into a town conveniently named Absolution. This, too, pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film -- a little of the wittily clever mixed with the obvious.
It's not a complete loss, however, since it turns out 007 also makes a great anti-hero gunslinger. This is probably the best performance of a tough as nails and ill-tempered loner since Clint Eastwood's own iconic outlaw graced the screen, but to be perfectly honest, I wish it were seen in something far better than this, not that Jon Favreau's film isn't any fun though it is somewhat weighed down at the beginning of the second act. When the aliens finally attack the town, allowing Craig to discover his charm bracelet is actually a futuristic handgun, the thrill of sci-fi elements mixes well with the western ideal, but afterwards, things quickly slow down.
The outsider is set on his quest to free those kidnapped, as well as to obviously absolve past sins, in typical frontier justice style. His ragtag posse consists of local folk, each playing to the strengths of their cliché. Harrison Ford is the most formidable as wealthy cattle rancher Colonel Dolarhyde. Beautiful Olivia Wilde is the knows-more-than-she-lets-on Ella. Sam Rockwell plays his part in his typical quiet fashion as a saloon owner with a medical background, while Paul Dano does the opposite as Colonel Dolarhyde's troubling-making son. Best surprise is Adam Beach as Colonel Dolarhyde's Native American hired hand, bringing a welcome emotional subplot to an otherwise straightforward tale.
Sadly, that aspect to the script can only be seen fully on the extended cut of the movie, which adds 16 minutes of dialogue and scenes that explore it a bit more, also making it the superior version. What was seen theatrically surprisingly eliminates more sequences with the Native Americans doing a war dance and Beach's Nat feeling disconnected from his people, like he doesn't belong in either world. It's a necessary component that makes a later heartfelt scene more powerful. In either case, 'Cowboys & Aliens' is an enjoyable, action-packed thrill ride, serving the perfect popcorn-entertainment blend of two very beloved genres, but the extended cut of the film is definitely the preferred version.
Blu-ray Video Quality - 'Cowboys & Aliens' debuts on Blu-ray with an excellent, near-reference 1080p encoded image, filling the entire screen with tons of beautiful panoramic shots of New Mexico.
Framed in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Matthew Libatique's cinematography simply looks stunning, displaying incredible vistas of the desert plains and natural rock formations. The freshly-minted transfer shows remarkable clarity and definition, exposing the small, fine lines in the various wood buildings, the stitching on costumes and every pebble scattered about the ground. Facial complexions are beautifully detailed with lifelike textures, revealing the tiniest blemish, wrinkle and smudge of dirt on the faces of actors.
Part of this rich, distinct clarity comes from a pitch-perfect contrast balance, extending visibility into the far distance. The picture carries an attractive cinematic appeal that's vibrant, crisp and glossy all around without feeling artificial or ruining highlights. The color palette is equally flashy with terrific, bold saturation, providing the image with lots of energy and pop. Being a western, of course, saturation hues pull their weight with a good deal of warmth and giving facial complexions a healthy tone that's accurate to the region. Blacks, on the other hand, are where we run into a bit of trouble, appearing inky and intense for a good chunk of the movie, but once indoors with natural, dim lighting, they look rather drab and murky. Since shadow delineation doesn't falter greatly during these sequences, it's possible it could all be the result of the photography and not a fault in the transfer. Taken as a whole, Jon Favreau's sci-fi western is spectacular on Blu-ray.
Blu-ray Audio Quality - The genre-bending actioner audio track also serves as the perfect partner in crime, furnishing the excellent video with an equally exceptional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
Being a cross with the science-fiction genre, the original design features a great deal of activity in the rears, especially during scenes with the alien spacecraft's. What appear like scout drones whiz by overheard convincingly and pan between the speakers with persuasive ease, extending the sound field with exciting effect. Imaging is widespread as other small atmospherics fill the back area, most notably when the posse spends the night inside an upside down steamboat. Even in the many segments of supposed silence, the track brings a satisfyingly immersive experience.
Things remain first-rate in the front soundstage, feeling quite expansive with lots of detailed clarity. Off-screen effects and channel separation provide spacious warmth that's highly engaging thanks to a brilliant, room-penetrating mid-range. The upper frequencies are sharp and crisp, maintaining the loud noise amid the many moments of action clear and discernible. The low-end, also, comes with a heaping helping of powerful, very responsive bass, giving each gunshot and explosion a compelling force and weight. Dialogue and a few whispered conversations are delivered with great intelligibility and nicely focused in the centre of the screen, never drowned out by the rest of the action. Ignoring a very small numbers of inactive scenes, this sound mix of 'Cowboys & Aliens' sounds absolutely amazing and is exceedingly satisfying.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary with Director John Favreau: Very laid-back and relaxed, director Jon Favreau talks viewers through various aspects of the movie, primarily on cast, crew and characterization. It's a welcoming and easy-going conversation which clearly shows his love of filmmaking, the final outcome of this project and movies in general. It's also great hearing his thought process as auteur, the decisions he made while on set and what he was striving for in many scenes. Of real interest is finding the commentary track available on both versions of the movie and John Favreau acknowledges that by stating the one for the theatrical cut is edited. He also admits he prefers and believes the extended version is better, which I agree. It's good and pleasant track fans can get into.
Conversation with John Favreau [80:00] A great collection of interview-like conversations of the director. Each can only be watched separately and shows Favreau chatting with his cast and crew on a variety of topics. It features Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof. What was interesting about this extra, as that Jon Favreau was originally going to film in 3D, but after test shooting, decided that the perspective would of be very off putting and would not enhance the final outlook of the film
Igniting the Sky: The Making of `Cowboys & Aliens' [HD] [18:00] The making-of doc is a much better look at the production and pretty comprehensive in its approach. Broken into five separate sections that can be watched sequentially, each touches on various aspects such as the casting & characters (`Absolution') and a closer discussion on John Favreau (`A Call to Action'). The other three (`Finding the Story,' `Outer-Space Icon' and `The Scope of the Spectacle') are already covered above and available on the DVD release.
D-Box Motion Code Enabled
Finally, Jon Favreau's 'Cowboys & Aliens' is an entertaining blend of two much loved film genres: the western and sci-fi. With strong performances of western archetypes, the mash-up of frontier-justice gunslingers and alien invasion disaster is far from perfect, but the story sticks to what it promises and delivers without completely going overboard. Daniel Craig stands out as our morally ambiguous anti-hero and it would be great to see him again in the same genre with stronger material. The Blu-ray invades homes with an excellent near-reference audio and video presentation, and features a wealth of exclusive supplements, making it a recommended package for fans and the curious alike. What I really love about this film, is its very different look on the Cowboy type genre film and is so different from anything I have seen before and is a very adventurous in its outlook and that is why every time I view this film, I get to see different things that I missed before, because there is so much action going on and it definitely keeps up the pace and the ending is a very satisfying experience and I am so happy to add this to my Blu-ray Collection and is also a brilliant reference Blu-ray disc for your Home Cinema set up, as with the surround sound, you will think you are in the thick of the action. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2012
So I didn't see this one in theaters because just the concept seemed stupid to me. Aliens and Cowboys. Really? Was Hollywood really this intellectually bankrupt that they were stooping to just putting two random concepts together and hoping they'd get something that the public liked?
I like many things that are opposites. I love zombies, I love Marvel super heroes. I didn't want to put them together, but unfortunately Marvel did and they got the abomination that is now known as Marvel Zombies. I love Star Wars, and I love zombies, I NEVER wanted to put them together. But Joe Scrhreiber did and we got the horrible steaming pile of "book" that was "Death Troopers."
So when I saw Aliens and Cowboys I threw my hands up in disgust and refused to pay $10.00 USD to see it in theaters, but when I saw it in the Red Box for $1.00, I figured that it was better than watching re-runs of Storage Wars so I picked it up for the night.
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS***
Right off the bat this starts out as a bad-ass western, and I haven't seen a good western in years! So to see how awesome this was starting out was a HUGE surprise and a welcome one! I also was questioning where the main character got his nifty little bracelet thingy and why he couldn't remember, but honestly I knew those questions would be answered soon so I kept watching.
I have NEVER seen Harrison Ford play a bad guy before, but he knocked it out of the park with this performance! Having him play a cattle baron who is a former war hero in a wild west town was awesome!
Then the aliens show up. I immediately thought, "Okay here we go with the campy costumes and lame ships," but again I was wrong! I was blown away by how good the special effects were, the ships looked awesome! The explosions were cool, and the idea that something so small as a bracelet taking down these fighter ships was pretty friggin' awesome!
So then the ships are snatching up people and taking them back to their base to do god knows what with them. We never really find out what they are doing with these people other than they are all standing around with some kinda restraints on and they're starring at a giant water balloon looking like zombies.
So we find out that the aliens are also taking members of the local Native American tribe and they want to get their family members back too and they're ready to ride off into battle but they need a leader. Who better to do that then the guy who was Indiana Jones AND Han Solo? Harrison Ford draws the aliens out and the cowboys and natives do battle with the aliens while the main character goes inside to find and free everyone.
We also find out that the aliens are harvesting gold for some reason. This really bugged me. What were they using it for? We're never told. Seriously, did it have monetary value on their planet? Was it food? Was it a fuel source? Did they need it to build some sort of technology? Seriously I don't care which, but just pick one and tell the audience. Like in Avatar, we wanted the ore because it had monetary value and it had technological uses. Or in Independence Day, the aliens came and wanted our planet cuz theirs was dead and they needed a new place to live. Or even in Battle: Los Angeles, the aliens needed water because they used it as a fuel source. Just a little clarification would be nice.
So the movie ends and the alien foundry is blown up and everyone is rescued. Harrison Ford's character and the main character put aside their differences and our main character rides off into the sunset.
***END SPOILERS*** ***END SPOILERS*** ***END SPOILERS***
There's really very little about this movie I didn't like, just the gold issue and what the humans were being used for. Other than that this movie rocked! Go check it out!