Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released Cowboys & Aliens today. The Blu-ray release a DVD and digital copy as well as an extended cut, special features and Universal's enhanced 'Second Screen Feature.' The movie was directed by Jon Favreau and was made with Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The movie's all-star cast features Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine and many more.
The movie was released on July 29 in theaters. I was looking forward to it having read the comic book with the same name and because of the those involved with the movie. Because it was right after San Diego Comic-Con, one thing lead to another and I never made it to a theater to see the movie.
When I first heard about the comic, I thought the idea of cowboys and aliens meshed together was brilliant. We've seen many films in both genres and putting the two together had the potential to give us something different and be real fun.== TEASER ==
Daniel Craig knows how to be a badass character and establishes from the beginning that he's not one to mess around with. Waking up in the desert with no memory of his past and a strange metallic device attached to his wrist, he soon comes across some other cowboys. He then makes his way to the town of Absolution, which is under the control of Harrison Ford's character. Tension arises as Craig's character is known in the town and isn't exactly welcome. Before things can be settled, aliens attack, abducting some of the townsfolk.
It's not a bad premise but there were moments things didn't quite work out. Craig is supposed to be the lone tough guy but when all the craziness erupts, he's just too calm. He would turn his back on guys holding a gun up to him. Aliens attack and he didn't even blink.
When everyone needs to work together to save those that have been taken, it made sense but felt like a stretch as well. It might have been because I was watching the extended cut (sixteen minutes longer), there were moments the movie felt like it was dragging on a little.
My biggest complaint is the movie not only had a kid in it but also a dog. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind kids or dogs but there wasn't a need for them. Yes, the kid played a role in connecting with another character but it didn't make the movie better.
The visuals, location, sound and effects were great. This is a movie that looks good on Blu-ray and turning up the volume immerses you into the moving-going experience (there is also a D-Box option on the disc if you have the means to utilize it). It was a smart move to give Craig the wrist gauntlet instead of a typical laser gun. The ships had an interesting design that didn't feel too common compared to other sci-fi movies and the aliens looked good without coming across as cheap or fake.
I mentioned I hadn't seen the original cut. It is included as well and I watched the end/battle scene. I haven't heard any mention of it but the extended (unrated) cut appears to be a little more violent. When cowboys are getting shot and exploding, it's a little more graphic. It's safe to say that it's clear why the extended cut wouldn't pass with a PG-13 rating.
The movie didn't do too well in theaters but the main thing is to enjoy it for what it is. It's cowboys...and aliens. Expectations shouldn't be too high. There is plenty of high octane action and a great cast to fill in the scenery.
There are also a load of special features included. I had feared that it would be a simple release just to get it out into homes. There are five featurettes (with only three available on the DVD). Finding the Story (on the DVD) talks about taking the idea/title from the comic and turning it into something more. A Call to Action gives some 'making of' background along with how Favreau went all out in making the movie. Absolution discusses the location along with getting the right cast to really enhance the movie. Outer-Space Icon (on the DVD) deals with creating the aliens. The Scope of the Spectacle (on DVD) shows how they created the alien attacks, getting the actors on the horses and the stunts involved.
The movie has commentary with Favreau and there is also a series of 'interviews' between Favreau and the actors and filmmakers. Perhaps interview isn't the right word. These conversations range from ten to twenty minutes each. They give a really great look at the making of the movie and a behind the scenes look without being one of those typical features.
Hearing the conversation between them shows how comfortable they are with each other and was fun to watch and listen to. Favreau had conversations with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof.
The Blu-ray also includes the UltraViolet feature where you can put the movie in your cloud collection and stream it to your computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. Universal has a U-Control mode where you can access the special features without leaving the movie. BD-Live is included as well as pocket BLU which allows you to use the app for smartphones, iPads, etc to access different features.
Cowboys & Aliens isn't the perfect movie but it had its moments of fun. Watching the Blu-ray gives a certain level of appreciation into what it took to make the movie. It's unfortunate that parts of the movie fell under the typical cliché but that's what is expected in Hollywood features. Combining these two genres into a live-action movie wasn't the easiest thing to do and it was interesting to see how they managed to pull it off.