COWBOYS & ALIENS [2011 / 2012] [Extended Director's Cut] [Blu-ray] [UK Release]
First Contact, Last Stand!
From the Director of ‘Iron Man’ and ‘CHEF’ comes an action-packed, sci-fi adventure starring Daniel Craig ‘Quantum of Solace’ and ‘The Golden Compass.’ Harrison Ford ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Indian Jones and the Crystal Skull’ and Olivia Wilde ‘Tron Legacy’ as the only posse who can save the world from an alien invasion. With cutting edge special effects and a one-of-a-kind story. ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ is a showdown you won't want to miss.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 2010 IGN Summer Movie Awards: Nominated: Best Poster. Nominated: Best trailer. 2011 Golden Schmoes Awards: Nominated: Biggest Disappointment of the Year. 2011 Hollywood Film Awards: Nominated: ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS.’ 2011 IGN Summer Movie Awards: Nominated: Best Comic Book Adaptation Movie. 2011 Locarno International Film Festival: Nominated: Variety Piazza Grande Award for Jon Favreau. 2011 Scream Awards: Nominated: Best Science Fiction Actor for Daniel Craig. Nominated: Best Science Fiction Actor for Harrison Ford. Nominated: Best Comic Book Movie. 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Nominated: Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture for Bobby Aldridge, J.C. Augare, James Augare, Brian Brown, William Paul Brown, Richard Bucher, Chris Carlson, Craig Conaway, Ben Cooke, Jonathan Crazybull, Jeffrey J. Dashnaw, J.J. Dashnaw, Danny Edmo, Daniel Forcey, Todd Forsberg, Ramon Frank, Sean Rowdy Gardner, Derek Graf, Tad Griffith, Michael Hansen, Ryan Happy, Thomas Robinson Harper, Riley Harper, Will Harper, Gray Wolf Herrera, Freddie Hice, Cassidy Hice, Dylan Hice, Robert Jauregui, Shawn Jenkins, Shawn Kautz, Rob King, Derek Lacasa, Shawn Patrick Lane, Malosi Leonard, Matt Leonard, Alvin William 'Dutch' Lunak, Benny Manning, Cliff, McLaughlin, Greg Miller, Heidi Moneymaker, Matthew Moss, Casey O'Neill, K.C. Peterson, Ed Pinkard, Blake Pocquette, James Pratt, Pat Ricotti, Erin Ricotti, Jason Rodriguez, Rod Rondeaux, David Schultz, Wesley Scott, Kyle Segura, Doug Snively, Coy Speer, Cody Thornbury, Devan Torres, Steve Upton, Aaron Walters, Mike Watson, Scott Wilder, Keith Woulard and Danny Wynands. 2012 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for Harrison Ford. 2012 Annie Awards: Nominated: Animated Effects in a Live Action Production for Gary Wu. Nominated: Animated Effects in a Live Action Production for Lee Uren. 2012 Art Directors Guild: Nominated: Excellence in Production Design Award for Fantasy Film for Scott Chambliss (production designer), Christopher Burian-Mohr (supervising art director), Lauren E. Polizzi (art director), Harry E. Otto (assistant art director), Marisa Frantz (assistant art director), Lorrie Campbell (set designer), John Chichester (set designer), Kevin Cross (set designer), Mark Hitchler (set designer), Tex Kadonaga (set designer), Amahl Lovato (set designer), Anne Porter (set designer), Suzan Wexler (set designer), Scott Schneider (set designer), James Clyne (concept artist), Phil Saunders (concept artist), Christopher S. Ross (concept artist), Ryan Meinerding (illustrator), Andrea Dopaso (illustrator), Richard K. Buoen (illustrator), Tim Wilcox (illustrator), David Lowery (storyboard artist), John Mann (storyboard artist), Ed Natividad (storyboard artist), Mark Vena (storyboard artist), Ryan Jeremy Woodward (storyboard artist), Patrick J. Rodriguez (storyboard artist), James Rothwell (storyboard artist), Jeff Frost (modelmaker), Jason Mahakian (modelmaker), Clint Schultz (graphic designer), Karen Manthey (set decorator) and Gabrielle McKenna-Elliott (sign writer). 2012 Jupiter Award: Nominated: Best International Actor for Harrison Ford. 2012 Society of Camera Operators: Nominated: Camera Operator of the Year Award for Feature Film for Peter Rosenfeld. 2012 World Stunt Awards: Nominated: Taurus Award for Best Specialty Stunt for Brian Brown and Mike Watson.
FILM FACT No.2: On the 30th November, 2011, Steven John Busti filed a lawsuit against Universal, DreamWorks, Platinum Studios, and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, claiming copyright infringement. John Busti claimed he wrote a preview for his story “Cowboys and Aliens” in 1994, which was published in the April 1995 issue of Bizarre Fantasy #1. The story was also previewed in a 1995 issue of "Comic Shop News," which was on the same page that featured coverage of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Platinum Studios produced a one sheet depicting a cowboy being chased by an alien, which eventually led to Universal Pictures and DreamWorks buying film rights to their concept. The lawsuit was dismissed.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Abigail Spencer, Buck Taylor, Matthew Taylor, Cooper Taylor, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano, Chris Browning, Adam Beach, Sam Rockwell, Ana de la Reguera, Noah Ringer, Brian Duffy, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, Brendan Wayne, Gavin Grazer, Toby Huss, Wyatt Russell, Jimmy Jatho, Harrison Ford, Kenny Call, Walton Goggins, Julio Cedillo, Garret Noël, David O'Hara, Troy Gilbert, Chad Randall, Scout Schoenfeld Hendrickson, Raoul Trujillo, Hoyle Osborne, Rex Rideout, Robert Lee Bell (uncredited), Maria Bethke (uncredited), Todd Bethke (uncredited), Amanda Fresquez (uncredited), Richard Allan Jones (uncredited), Alexandria Morrow (uncredited), Kelly Ruble (uncredited), Charlene Adams Upton (uncredited) and Adrian Kali Turner (voice) (uncredited)
Director: Jon Favreau
Producers: Alex Kurtzman, Bobby Cohen, Brian Grazer, Chris Wade, Denis L. Stewart, Jon Favreau, K.C. Hodenfield, Karen Gilchrist, Roberto Orci, Ron Howard, Ryan Kavanaugh, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Hawk Ostby, Mark Fergus and Roberto Orci
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic)
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
English 5.1 Audio Description,
German: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
French: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Suomi and Swedish
Running Time: 135 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Pictures
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: The intermingling of genres like science-fiction and the western is really nothing new in film, but the CGI-laden ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ aims to feel like something audiences haven't seen before. While not exactly as intelligently topical as Michael Crichton's ‘Westworld’ or amusingly subtle as Joss Whedon's ‘Serenity,’ Jon Favreau's action flick brings a good deal of engaging entertainment and exciting spectacle to the proceedings. It might not please every viewer out there, but it satisfies the wide-eyed fantasies of long-time devoted followers of both genres or at least, of this particular viewer.
It is 1873 in the Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of “Absolution” don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde [Harrison Ford]. It's a town that lives in fear. But “Absolution” is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breath-taking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realises he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveller Ella, he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.
The films genre-mashup is quite overt and in your face, which could be seen as a bit of a drawback because it definitely shows a lack of finesse. It commences with a western theme and setting, suddenly switching to an alien invasion storyline that runs through the usual obstacle course. The change is surprisingly not as jarring as one would reasonably expect, although it takes some time to find its proper footing afterwards. The glue holding the marriage together is Jon Favreau's direction infused with several stylish nods to the archetypes and thematic of both styles, ranging again from explicit to sly.
Jake Lonergan [Daniel Craig] stars as our “Man with No Name” hero in the literal sense, waking up in the middle of a scorching desert without any recollection of who he is or why he carries a mysterious iron bracelet on his wrist. After a quickly determined fight with three bounty hunters, a clue into his past is revealed which nicely sets off that whole morally-ambiguous protagonist feel we love in a good 'ole shoot 'em up horse opera. Wearing Indiana Jones' fedora, the mystery man rides into a town conveniently named “Absolution.” This, too, pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film that is a little of the wittily clever mixed with the obvious.
It's not a complete loss, however, since it turns out 007 also makes a great anti-hero gunslinger. This is probably the best performance for Daniel Craig of a tough as nails and ill-tempered loner since Clint Eastwood's own iconic outlaw graced the screen, but to be perfectly honest, I wish it were seen in something far better than this, not that Jon Favreau's film isn't any fun though it is somewhat weighed down at the beginning of the second act. When the aliens finally attack the town, allowing Daniel Craig to discover his charm bracelet is actually a futuristic handgun, the thrill of sci-fi elements mixes well with the western ideal, but afterwards, things quickly slow down.
The outsider is set on his quest to free those kidnapped, as well as to obviously absolve past sins, in typical frontier justice style. His ragtag posse consists of local folk, each playing to the strengths of their cliché. Harrison Ford is the most formidable as wealthy cattle rancher Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde. Beautiful Ella Swenson [Olivia Wilde] is the knows-more-than-she-lets-on Ella. Doc [Sam Rockwell] plays his part in his typical quiet fashion as a saloon owner with a medical background, while Percy Dolarhyde [Paul Dano] does the opposite as Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde‘s troubling-making son. Best surprise is Nat Colorado [Adam Beach] as Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde's Native American hired hand, bringing a welcome emotional subplot to an otherwise straightforward tale.
Sadly, that aspect to the script can only be seen fully on the extended cut of the film, which you will see on this Blu-ray disc, which adds 16 minutes of dialogue and scenes that explore it a bit more, also making it the superior version. What was seen theatrically surprisingly eliminates more sequences with the Native Americans doing a war dance and Nat Colorado [Adam Beach] is feeling disconnected from his people, like he doesn't belong in either world. It's a necessary component that makes a later heartfelt scene more powerful. In either case, ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ is a very enjoyable, action-packed thrill ride, serving the perfect popcorn-entertainment blend of two very beloved genres, but the extended cut of the film is definitely the preferred version.
COWBOYS & ALIENS MUSIC TRACK LIST
APACHE WAR DANCE (Written by The Mescalero Apache Tribe) [Performed by The Mescalero Apache Tribe]
INDIAN WAR WHOOP (uncredited)
Blu-ray Image Quality – ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ debuts on Blu-ray with an excellent, near-reference 1080p encoded image, filling the entire screen with tons of beautiful panoramic shots of New Mexico. Framed in an awesome 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Matthew Libatique's cinematography simply looks stunning, displaying incredible vistas of the desert plains and natural rock formations. The freshly-minted transfer shows remarkable clarity and definition, exposing the small, fine lines in the various wood buildings, the stitching on costumes and every pebble scattered about the ground. Facial complexions are beautifully detailed with lifelike textures, revealing the tiniest blemish, wrinkle and smudge of dirt on the faces of actors. Part of this rich, distinct clarity comes from a pitch-perfect contrast balance, extending visibility into the far distance. The picture carries an attractive cinematic appeal that's vibrant, crisp and glossy all around without feeling artificial or ruining highlights. The colour palette is equally flashy with terrific, bold saturation, providing the image with lots of energy and pop. Being a western, of course, saturation hues pull their weight with a good deal of warmth and giving facial complexions a healthy tone that's accurate to the region. Blacks, on the other hand, are where we run into a bit of trouble, appearing inky and intense for a good chunk of the movie, but once indoors with natural, dim lighting, they look rather drab and murky. Since shadow delineation doesn't falter greatly during these sequences, it's possible it could all be the result of the photography and not a fault in the transfer. Taken as a whole, Jon Favreau's sci-fi western spectacular film ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ on Blu-ray is totally awesome.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The genre-bending action packed audio track also serves as the perfect partner in crime, furnishing the excellent image quality with an equally exceptional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Being a cross with the science-fiction genre, the original design features a great deal of activity in the rears, especially during scenes with the alien spacecraft's. What appear like scout drones whiz by overheard convincingly and pan between the speakers with persuasive ease, extending the sound field with exciting effect. Imaging is widespread as other small atmospherics fill the back area, most notably when the posse spends the night inside an upside down steamboat. Even in the many segments of supposed silence, the track brings a satisfyingly immersive experience. Things remain first-rate in the front soundstage, feeling quite expansive with lots of detailed clarity. Off-screen effects and channel separation provide spacious warmth that's highly engaging thanks to a brilliant, room-penetrating mid-range. The upper frequencies are sharp and crisp, maintaining the loud noise amid the many moments of action clear and discernible. The low-end, also, comes with a heaping helping of powerful, very responsive bass, giving each gunshot and explosion a compelling force and weight. Dialogue and a few whispered conversations are delivered with great intelligibility and nicely focused in the centre of the screen, never drowned out by the rest of the action. Ignoring a very small numbers of inactive scenes, this sound mix of ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ sounds absolutely amazing and is exceedingly satisfying.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau: Jon Favreau is very laid-back and relaxed; director Jon Favreau talks viewers through various aspects of the movie, primarily on cast, crew and characterization. It's a welcoming and easy-going conversation which clearly shows his love of filmmaking, the final outcome of this project and films in general. It's also great hearing his thought process as auteur, the decisions he made while on set and what he was striving for in many scenes. Of real interest is finding the commentary track available on both versions of the movie and Jon Favreau acknowledges that by stating the one for the theatrical cut is edited. Jon Favreau also admits he prefers and believes the extended version is a much better film, which I totally agree. It's a very good and interesting audio commentary track and fans can get into it very much and is definitely well worth a listen.
Special Feature: Conversation with Jon Favreau  [1080p] [1.78:1] [80:00] A great collection of interview-like conversations with the director and other contributors. Each can only be watched separately and shows Jon Favreau chatting with his cast and crew on a variety of topics. What was interesting about this extra is that Jon Favreau was originally going to make the film in 3D, but after test shooting, decided that the perspective would of be very off putting and would not enhance the final outlook of the film. Contributors include: Daniel Craig, Jon Favreau, Harrison Ford, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci, Steven Spielberg and Olivia Wilde.
Special Feature: Igniting the Sky: The Making of ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’  [1080p] [1.78:1] [18:00] The making-of documentary is a much better look at the production aspect and is pretty much comprehensive in its approach. Broken into five separate sections that can be watched separately or in all one go, and each one touches on various aspects such as the casting and characters in the film. Each documentary is broken up into the following “Absolution” and “A Call to Action” here you have a closer discussion on Jon Favreau the director. The other three are “Finding the Story;” “Outer-Space Icon” and `The Scope of the Spectacle.” Contributors include: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Jon Favreau, Olivia Wilde, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Adam Beach, Sam Rockwell, Ana de la Reguera, Clancy Brown, Denis L. Stewart, Scott Chambliss, Mary Zophres, Shane Mahan, Noah Ringer, Ian Joyner, David Merritt, Robert Weaver, Roger Guyett, Marc Chu, Eddie Pasquarello, Christian Alzmann, Martin Murphy, Daniel Pearson, Thomas Robinson Harper and Brendan Wayne.
Finally, Jon Favreau's ‘COWBOYS & ALIENS’ is a very entertaining blend of two much loved film genres: the western and sci-fi. With strong performances of western archetypes, the mash-up of frontier-justice gunslingers and alien invasion disaster is far from perfect, but the story sticks to what it promises and delivers without completely going overboard. Daniel Craig stands out as our morally ambiguous anti-hero and it would be great to see him again in the same genre with stronger material. The Blu-ray invades homes with an excellent near-reference image and audio presentation, and features a wealth of exclusive supplements, making it a recommended package for fans and the curious alike. What I really love about this film, is its very different look on the Cowboy type genre film and is so different from anything I have seen before and is a very adventurous in its outlook and that is why every time I view this film, I get to see different things that I missed before, because there is so much action going on and it definitely keeps up the pace and the ending is a very satisfying experience and I am so happy to add this to my Blu-ray Collection and is also a brilliant reference Blu-ray disc for your Home Cinema set up, as with the surround sound, you will think you are in the thick of the action. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso