COWBOYS AND ALIENS

Clever, exciting, funny and magnificently shot, this movie is not a
mixup of genres, but a Western through and through — with
supernatural elements. The striking opening shot has the color of a
hand-tinted postcard, setting up the period with a distinct look
augmented by director Favreau and his cameraman Matthew Libatique's
sweeping outdoor visuals. Daniel Craig is the loner, Harrison Ford the
not-so-evil land baron, Paul Dano (great to see him again!) the
baron's ne'er-do-well son, Noah Ringer the boy who learns to become a
man — Western archetypes all in a story that alludes a bit to The
Searchers. What makes this such a blast is the momentum that moves the
story along, always headed to the next big set piece. Craig is very
good at the he-man-of-little-talk persona; he never goes so far into
himself that he shuts the audience out. Olivia Wilde matches him in
gravity, making their one kiss, lasting just seconds, a delightful
surprise. The monsters are fun, the sets (especially an upside-down
paddle wheel steamboat) impressive, and Harry Gregson-Williams' score
a real mood-setting plus. I enjoyed this summer entertainment from
start to finish. — Jeff Schultz

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