Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens & Movie Critics


While the final score is still settling, Cowboys & Aliens looks to be scoring around 44% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, which begs the question of how critics could be so far off. Because Cowboys & Aliens kicks ass.

Despite often being reviled as the lowest form of life on the planet, professional movie critics - on average - tend to be right about most movies. The Tomatometer is, more often than not, an accurate indication of whether a movie is good or not (though due to calibration issues it is less adept at correctly identifying how good or bad). However, every now and then, it is dead wrong.

The Middle Room exists to consider such anomalies in the hopes of identifying them in advance, and, while we're at it, potentially uncovering valuable insight into the abnormal psychology of the professional movie critic.

The key to understanding Cowboys & Aliens is that it's not what it appears to be. This isn't to say it isn't a western/SF crossover, which it certainly is, but rather that it isn't a dark and troubling movie. Rather, this is an exciting summer action/adventure movie set in a mash-up of science fiction and western tropes. In tone, this is closer to Pirates of the Caribbean than The Dark Knight. At times, it's downright campy, though never in a cloying way.

It is, above all else, a hell of a lot of fun.

We submit that the movie critic - or, to be fair, approximately 56% of movie critics - are mentally incapable of grasping this.

Certainly, the average critic has no problem handling mash-ups: we're relatively certain they teach that in film school. However, it seems to us that many critics are only able to view a movie within the framework they believe it's supposed to exist in. So, if they believe they're watching a sci-fi/western, they are unable to appreciate or even recognize that they're viewing a kick-ass adventure movie that's more comedy than horror.

It's not their fault: it may be a disability.

Cowboys & Aliens was made to be a pleasant experience. If you're unable to accept that it's not Predator, you'll be disappointed; it's far closer to Predators. It's summer entertainment at its best, which isn't to suggest it's unintelligent. In fact, quite the opposite: there's an art to making good popcorn flicks, and this does so extremely well.

Once again, Favreau has produced something that's simply joyous to watch. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are fantastic in the movie for the same reason Robert Downey, Jr. was fantastic in Iron Man: they're clearly given room to play with their characters and the world.

On a five star scale with Pirates at the top, Cowboys & Aliens earns a four. It's fantastically entertaining, and is - at present - our favorite live-action movie of the year.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I do agree with you. I also watch this movie last night and didn't like it. One of brash movie that I ever seen...It was completely wastage of money as well time...:(

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