Cowboys & Aliens

Universal Pictures

Rated PG-13 for violence, brief nudity and a crude reference.

Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig Co-Star In Genre-Blending Adventure

Cowboys & Aliens might be the most poorly executed blend of movie genres since custard pie slapstick was mixed with a Martian invasion in The Three Stooges In Orbit back in 1962. The good news about this campy Western/sci-fi combination is that it has about just as many laughs per minute as the Stooges’ ill-advised adventure. The bad news, however, is that director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) probably wasn’t trying to make a comedy.

Regardless, the audiences mostly likely to enjoy Cowboys & Aliens are those ready to laugh at the improbable sight of gunslingers in ten-gallon hats trying to get the drop on aliens who have arrived on Earth with designs on mining all the gold out of the ground. Loosely based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s illustrated novel of the same name, the film co-stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, bona fide matinee idols whose presence in a cheesy B-flick with cheap special effects only adds to the unintended hilarity.

The story unfolds in 1875 in Absolution, NM, where we find the town folk initially disturbed by the arrival of Jake Lonergan (Craig), a grizzled drifter wanted dead or alive for the murder of Alice Willis (Abigail Breslin). But then a mysterious mothership descends on the desolate desert and starts abducting people one-by-one while simultaneously extracting ore.

So, local lawman Woodrow “Don’t call me Colonel” Dollarhide (Ford) decides to join forces with Jake whose futuristic bracelet proves a better weapon against the invaders than his standard issue six-shooter. In fact, all the humans in the vicinity put aside their differences in defense of the planet in an uneasy confederacy of settlers, Indians and outlaws.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing convincing about their ensuing Old West showdown with extraterrestrials, and it’s hard to believe that it took a collaboration of eight screenwriters to craft such a hokey, cliché-ridden script.

Sorry, judging from this disaster, cowboys and aliens simply don’t look like they ever belong up on the big screen together.

What’s next, the Lone Ranger and Tonto take on the Body Snatchers?

Fair (1 star).

Running time: 118 minutes.

 

Point Blank (À bout portant)

Magnolia Pictures

Unrated R for graphic violence and bloody images.

 

Hubby Has Three Hours To Save Pregnant Wife In Adrenaline-Fueled Action Thriller

Paris has served as the backdrop for several superb revenge flicks lately—Taken, District B-13 and From Paris With Love—and this adrenaline-fueled thriller measures up well in comparison with the best of the genre. Written and directed by Fred Cavaye, the picture features another desperate protagonist taking the law into his own hands with a sense of urgency due to the dire consequences apt to transpire should he involve the police in the resolution of the matter.

In this instance, the tension is wound around mild-mannered Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche), a nurse and happily married family man. The plot thickens right off the bat when gangsters break into his apartment, knock him unconscious and drag his seven-and-a-half months-pregnant wife, Nadia (Elena Anaya), away kicking and screaming.

Sam subsequently receives a phone call from the kidnappers whose life or death ransom demand gives him only three hours to free Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem), a dangerous criminal under his care at the hospital. The bad guys warn him not to alert the authorities and it’s not long before he realizes that there are already corrupt cops on the force he has to contend with anyway.

This means Sam is on his own as he plunges headlong into the fray by the seat of his pants. Up to the challenge, he proves to be an easy underdog to root for as he doles out a bloody brand of vigilante justice in search of his imperiled spouse.

Edited to keep the action unfolding at breakneck speed, this non-stop roller coaster ride never allows the audience an opportunity to pause to catch its collective breath. A heart-pounding, high-body count affair revolving around an unlikely hero who summons the courage to rise to the occasion for the sake of his spouse and unborn baby.

Excellent (4 stars).

In French with subtitles.

Running time: 84 Minutes.

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

 

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

 

For movies opening August 5, 2011

 

The Change-Up (R for crude sexuality, pervasive profanity, drug use and graphic nudity). Body swap comedy about a fatigued family man (Jason Bateman) and a jaded bachelor (Ryan Reynolds) whose prayers are instantly answered when they ask for each other’s lives while relieving themselves in a magical wishing well. With Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin.

 

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (PG-13 for frightening images and intense violence). Prequel to the ever-popular “Gorillas Gone Wild” franchise, set in San Francisco, pits primates against people after a scientist’s (James Franco) test of an experimental cure for Alzheimer’s leaves millions of chimps with human-like intelligence. Cast includes Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto and Brian Cox.

 

Assassination Games (R for torture, profanity, sexuality, nudity and graphic violence). Revenge thriller about a pair of rival assassins (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins) who reluctantly join forces in order to take on a blood-thirsty drug cartel backed by corrupt, undercover DEA officers. With Michael Higgs, Kevin Chapman and Ivan Kaye.

 

Bellflower (R for nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality, disturbing violence and pervasive profanity). Romance drama about a couple of buddies (Evan Glodell and Tyler Dawson) who build flamethrowers and other weapons with plans for world domination until one of them has second thoughts when he falls under the spell of a charismatic temptress (Jessie Wiseman). With Zack Kraus, Rebekah Brandes and Vincent Grashaw.

 

Gun Hill Road (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama, set in the South Bronx about a just-paroled ex-con’s (Esai Morales) return home after a three-year stint behind bars to an emotionally-estranged wife (Judy Reyes) who’s been unfaithful, and a troubled teenaged son (Harmony Santana) contemplating a sex change operation. With Isaiah Whitlock, Jr., Miriam Colon and Franky G.

 

Habermann (Unrated). World War II saga, set in Sudetenland in 1938, recounting the real-life ordeal endured by the family of a German saw mill owner (Mark Waschke) with a half-Jewish wife (Hannah Herzsprung) upon the outbreak of hostilities. Cast includes Karel Roden, Ben Becker and Radek Holub.

 

Magic Trip (Unrated). Psychedelic documentary about ‘60s cult figure Ken Kesey recounting the best-selling author’s (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) fabled, hallucinogen-fueled bus trip across the country from Oregon to New York in the company of a band of freewheeling, fellow acid freaks known as The Merry Pranksters. With file footage featuring Neal Cassady, Jane Burton and The Grateful Dead.

 

Mysteries Of Lisbon (Unrated). Screen adaptation of Camilo Castelo Branco’s historical novel set in the 19th Century about a priest (Adriano Luz) who orchestrates the reunion of an orphan (Joao Luis Arrais) with an adulteress countess (Maria Joao Bastos) recently released from prison who might be his long-lost mother. Supporting cast includes Rui Morrison, Carloto Cotta and Ricardo Pereira. (In Portuguese, French and English with subtitles.)

 

The Perfect Age Of Rock ‘N’ Roll (Unrated). Prodigal Son drama about a one-hit wonder (Kevin Zegers) who returns to his hometown after his second record flops in order to reconnect with his songwriting friend (Jason Ritter) responsible for his first album’s phenomenal success. Ensemble includes Peter Fonda, Ruby Dee, Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Lynch, Lauren Holly, Aimee Teegarden and Sugar Blue.

 

Protektor (Unrated). Holocaust drama unfolding in Prague in 1938 that revolves around an emotionally conflicted radio host (Marek Daniel) who decides to collaborate with the Nazi occupiers in order to save the life of his Jewish wife (Jana Plodkova). With Matthias Brandt, Jan Budar and Cyril Drozda. (In Czech and German with subtitles.)

 

The Whistleblower (Unrated). Fact-based drama chronicling the heroic exploits of Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), an American peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia who uncovered widespread corruption, including a United Nations cover-up of the sex-trafficking of young women.

 

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