Dear Cowboys & Aliens,
As we squint across the space between us not quite sure what the hell this is, I take off my hat and scratch the crown of my head unable to figure, what exactly, you are. That at least breaks the tension. You start off your tale with a swift demonstration of just how badass a cowboy you are. Yes indeed Jake is no one to mess with and my initial disdain about the nature of your story is quickly sobered! Not to much further in when we get Mister amnesia patched up and on his way we start to meet the motley townsfolk that are going to have to take your otherworldly visitors to task. What immediately dawns on me is that piece of obvious high tech hardware on his wrist is the only thing not natural to this picture, and it is easy to forget about it with all that is going on in this setting.
As I have this thought, another quick realization reminds me that this is already an excellent western and given my immersion into the story it is easy to wonder about what kind of craziness is yet to come. That’s also the amazing thing about this whole experience. It hints at something unusual. When things start getting out of hand as Percy delves to new lows in stupidity and the Colonel comes to rescue his boy, we get our first jolt of alien intrusion and it is stark. As the ships snatch up townsfolk left and right we finally see what the capability of the hardware is on Jake’s wrist. When the inevitable posse is formed he becomes an uneasy leader.
At this point as some would bemoan the clichés that cling to some of the obvious characters in this tale, something negates that criticism for me, and that is the fact that all are perfectly cast and as such, the actors in those shoes really add depth to those old standards. Later I find this to be quite important as so much of the standard western tale gets turned on its ear. Shortly, Jake tows the line with his old gang, just as the Colonel tows the line with the Indians and our band has become quite substantial.
Of course, the aliens come to harvest a few more humans and Ella who is an odd and curious character becomes another snatched sample that Jake snatches back and as she is injured becomes something else. An ally that would be scoffed at by some, but like everything here, she is creative and unusual. When we get a closer look at the aliens the filmmaker clearly establishes their superiority! But what they don’t realize is when you snatch those that are close to us humans you wake Lions and when they are some old time hard leathered lions like the kinds that prowled the old west, you better deal death and be serious about it.
That’s another thing I loved about this story, it’s unlike our shadowy rarely seen alien from earlier this year in the superlative Super 8. When the war comes this time it is done out in the brightest, blue skied, desert day you could ask for and there is nothing hidden about it. Right out front is where the clash happens and it is as good as it gets. As Jake serves his purpose and Ella serves hers to a satisfying resolution, you almost cant help but think about what she said about keeping them from getting away in order to come back.
Sighing in satisfaction I smack your shoulder on the way out the door with full appreciation at knowing I have been privy to something unique, creative and a blast to behold. I also smile at the prospect of what such genre bending creativity can do to infuse filmmaking with fresh ideas and I hope even more for your fervent success. Perhaps Super 8 and yourself can achieve something bigger than just box office success this year!
With a tip of my hat and a nod of my head I pay my respect.
Hope to see you again on the trail,