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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

92






Studio and Year: Universal - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 119/135 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi/Western

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Adam Beach, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Noah Ringer, Keith Carradine
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 6, 2011







"A different kind of close encounter"



Film Synopsis:


A stranger stumbles into the desert town of Absolution with no memory of his past and a futuristic shackle around his wrist. With the help of the mysterious Ella and the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde, he finds himself leading an unlikely posse against a common enemy from beyond this world in an epic showdown for survival.




My Take:


It's 1873 when gunslinger Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakens in the Arizona desert with no memory of his past and a mysterious metal shackle encircling his wrist. Stumbling into the nearby hardscrabble town of Absolution, Lonergan discovers a tightly closed community that takes its orders from the iron-fisted Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). But the colonel's influence wanes when the desolate city is attacked by monsters that drop from the sky with blinding force and abduct the helpless townsfolk one by one. As Lonergan's memory slowly returns, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of mysterious beauty Ella (Olivia Wilde), he assembles a posse comprised of townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors. United against a common enemy, they prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

Being a fan of both the western and sci-fi genres I was very curious to see how Cowboys and aliens with implement combining the two. There is a fair level of western action to go along with the requisite archetypes. There are elements of drama that simply don't work and wind up coming off as a corny additive. I felt that the storyline introduced too many narrative offshoots which ultimately left it lacking focus. I liked the opening, the stranger coming into town with no memory of whom he was or how he came to possess the strange object attached to his wrist. It was obvious that he was going to be the key to saving this town not only from what currently troubled it but from what was to come. Once the aliens roll into town and their reason for being there is revealed things get silly. The background on Jake's story (meaning how he came to possess the alien weapon etc.) doesn't hold water nor does what ensues after the formation of the posse. It gets worse when Ella's connection to the proceedings comes to light. I think that this film would have benefited from a sprinkling of romance and a helping of levity. I mean we are talking about cowboys fighting aliens.

The film has a decidedly serious overtone that infuses bloody alien action and stereotypical western hokum but skimps on some tension lifting humor and good guy gets the girl moments. The aliens aren't especially original but prove menacing enough. Likewise the action doesn't break new ground but is effectively engaging. Daniel Craig is pretty one dimensional but this character plays to his strengths. Harrison Ford didn't work for me as a cowboy but I like him just the same. Olivia Wilde seems to be very busy and has appeared in a number of films I have seen of late. She does a respectable job playing opposite the film's two big stars and of course looks great doing so. The remainder of cast consists of a cache of well known character actors in Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine,Raoul Trujillo, and Adam Beach. From a conceptual standpoint I think that Cowboys and aliens had promise. The problem is that it eschews much of the fun in favor of an overworked and overly serious narrative that fails to truly reward in either genre. It's not devoid of merit and has enough action to make for a mildly entertaining popcorn flick when the mood strikes. Both the 119 minute theatrical version and 135 minute extended cut are included. I watched the extended cut during my evaluation. Having not seen the theatrical version I couldn't say what, if anything, the additional 16 minutes adds or takes away from it but I suspect it has little effect on the outcome.



Parental Guide:


The rating is for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.





AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


Audio: 94


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:





Video: 90


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Cowboys and aliens comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 Mbps.

This is a superb looking Blu-ray presentation from Universal that delivers high level detail, razor sharpness and resolute definition that brings out the lifelike textures captured by the camera lens. Close ups and mid level shots are incredibly detailed and revealing of even the subtlest nuance visible within facial features, clothing, and objects/backgrounds within the frame. Fidelity is never in question regardless of the camera's perspective. Colors are kept within the scope of the time frame which means lots of browns, grays, and blacks. The stylized color palate deemphasizes primaries but the dusty earth tones have a rewarding quality nonetheless. Skin tones are texturally revealing and lifelike. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which helps them pop during sequences that contained both light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. I found this to be an impressive and pristine high definition video offering that looked terrific on my big screen.

Like the video presentation, the 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn't disappoint. This is an entertaining audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is excellent as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the large fight sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and resolute clarity. This is an active mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its dynamic range. The result is that all points of contact seem to resonate with tactile low bass impact that energizes the room with clean, hard hitting, low frequency extension. Dialogue had excellent soundstage presence with clear, defining vocal character and excellent room penetration. This is a top notch audio/video presentation that offers demonstration worthy material for those who like to show of their home theater systems.



Bonus Features:

  • Theatrical and Extended versions of the film

  • Conversations with Jon Favreau (79 minutes) - Features the director in sit down discussions with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and members of the production which includes Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

  • (HD) Igniting the sky: The making of Cowboys and aliens (5 segments)

    1. Finding the story - 5 minutes
    2. A call to action - 9 minutes
    3. Absolution - 9 minutes
    4. Outer space icon - 10 minutes
    5. The scope of the spectacle - 6 minutes
  • Feature commentary with director Jon Favreau

  • Second Screen - Interactive (via pocket BLU) that allows viewers to simultaneously control and interact with the film and bonus material on a WiFi-connected tablet or computer as the movie plays on the television screen. The new Flick View Feature will allow fans to interact even more with the movie and be able to move content from their tablet to their TV screen

  • U-CONTROL: Universal's exclusive PiP in movie feature that lets the viewer access bonus materials without leaving the movie

  • My scenes bookmark feature

  • D-Box Motion Code enabled

  • BD-Live access

  • Bonus DVD of Cowboys and aliens

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy of Cowboys and aliens



Final Thoughts:


Based on Platinum Studios comic of the same name Cowboys and aliens is a genre blending adventure with a conceptually interesting spin that fails to pan out. It eschews much of the fun in favor of an overworked and overly serious narrative that fails to truly reward on either genre front. It makes its way onto Blu-ray featuring excellent high definition video, reference quality lossless surround sound and an enriching supplemental package that provides fans with an interactive way to look behind the scenes at the production. Cowboys and aliens misses the mark however it has enough substance to make for a palatable popcorn flick when the mood strikes. Give it a rent.















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen

Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

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Really wanted to like the movie... I like Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford is Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde is easy on the eyes, and I like sci-fi and westerns. But even with the excellent presentation, I don't see myself buying this one. Good review!
 

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Came in with somewhat low expectase(new word i'm trying lol
) but surprisingly enough i thought this was a decent film. Good thing Olivia was in this movie otherwise even with D Craig and Mr Indiana J couldn't save this film.


Would i buy it? At a reference score of 92...Yes cerritos!



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by General Kenobi /forum/post/21250378


I really want to blind buy this but I'm hard pressed to find anything but scathing reviews


I doubt the rental will have both versions too:mad :

I peeped this flick in the theater when it was released.

I really enjoyed it!



How can you not like a movie with both Indiana Jones and James Bond in it?

It was worth the price of admission for me, just to see Daniel Craig as a badass cowboy.



I'll be adding Cowboys & Aliens to my blu-ray collection, but only when the price drops to the $9.99 level.
 

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This:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamE55 /forum/post/21250754


...Would i buy it? At a reference score of 92...Yes cerritos!



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And This:
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolcat4843 /forum/post/21250948


...How can you not like a movie with both Indiana Jones and James Bond in it? ....

What the heck I'll pick it up at BB for the holiday (price of a couple beers. NBD!)
 

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Not a "bad" movie, just a strange plot. My wife and I saw it in the theater, both of us liked it (although it may be not for everyone). Good production values, the acting was surprisingly good, just a weird premise.
 

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I often enjoy movies that don't generate a lot of rave reviews but I'm really not sure about this one. Good review Ralph--and your review just reinforces my uncertainly. Regardless, I have it on pre-order. I had a coupon that gets the price down to $18.99 so for under $20 I think it is still worth a blind buy for me.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cshaw88 /forum/post/21263895


Can't wait for next year's prequel "Cavemen and Aliens".

You mean, Cavemen and Cowboys dont you?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyb09 /forum/post/21250283


Don't know if that's the actual cover art - if it is, damn is that ugly!

+1

posters aren't too bad though I'm still not sure I'd buy one...just too staged looking for me.
 

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Against my better judgement, I will probably blind buy this one. Reference quality disc with these two leads will be hard to pass up.
 

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Just saw the film. I have seen my far share of westerns and must say I enjoyed watching cowboys and aliens. There were times where the story was a bit...lacking but overall an enjoying film to watch! The first attack scene and the scene where they are flying was epic with lfe
 

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While the film itself has its ups and downs I thought the video and audio quality were of reference quality. I would actually go as far to say that this is one of the best Blu-rays of this year. Not the best movie, but one of the best Blu-ray's all around.
 

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People over think things now days, I watch movies to be entertained not to pick apart... this movie contained two of my favorite themes, Westerns & Scifi... loved every minute of it. Excellent PQ & AQ I thought.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfergie /forum/post/21312029


People over think things now days, I watch movies to be entertained not to pick apart... this movie contained two of my favorite themes, Westerns & Scifi... loved every minute of it. Excellent PQ & AQ I thought.

Agreed! The premise is certainly different but I though the execution was fairly good.

AQ I found to be near reference
Even the quieter scenes, especially in the river boat, where the creaks and groans all around made you feel like you were there, terrific!

PQ is great as well, although some dark scenes are hard to make things out, outdoor scenes are stunning.

I am glad I decided to "blind buy" this as it definetly has replay value for me.

cheers
 

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Wife gave up on this one last night after 20 minutes, but I stuck with it and ended up enjoying it overall, although it was a bit spotty in parts.
 
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