Tag Archive: Sci-Fi Reviews


Alright, if you have not seen the movie Cowboys & Aliens and are planning to do so, be aware —  here there be spoilers.  As always though, I will do my best to keep them to a minimum.

Before you even walk into a movie with the title Cowboys & Aliens, you automatically know (or you should anyway) that there is going to be a pretty significant amount of disregarding reality you will need to do to enjoy the film.  While that is true with almost all films, a movie with this title demands it.  So, let’s set aside the obvious ridiculousness of the premise:  the idea that people in the wild west could possibly stand a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating aliens who came to Earth from outer space with technology and weapons that we in the 21st century don’t even have.  You will also have to really take a leap and believe that Harrison Ford is actually a nice person (at least for a portion of the movie).  Still with me so far?  Okay, good.

Our protagonist, Jake (played by Daniel Craig of James Bond fame) wakes up with amnesia (shocka!) in the middle of nowhere USA with some sort of wound in his side and a fancy bracelet attached to his wrist, which he cannot get off.  He is then  approached by some cowboys who threaten to kill him for no discernible reason that I could find, other than to give Jake a reason to kill them and take their horses, clothes and their dog.  He somehow manages to find his way into town, where he meets a preacher, the towns richest-man’s-obligatory-spoiled-and-annoying-son, Percy (Paul Dano) and a woman named Ella (Olivia Wilde, widely known as “13” from House).

Yada, yada, yada, the aliens come in ships and start taking townsfolk from above using what looked to me like an electrified version of the claw game we all play at the beach and never win — which just goes to show that apparently aliens are much better at that game than any human I’ve ever met, but I digress.  Turns out, they are taking humans to “study our weaknesses” (do I even need to insert a snarky comment here?) and the people taken may or may not still be alive.

Jake has flashbacks that he was abducted by aliens along with his girlfriend (although throughout the film she was really only referred to as “whore” and “prostitute” as if that had any bearing on the film, which by the way, it didn’t) which becomes his motivation for finding the aliens and kicking some alien ass.  Harrison Ford’s (Woodrow) son Percy was also taken (naturally), which is his motivation.  Along the way Jake realizes the thingamajig on his arm is a weapon and can blast the hell out of whatever he wants.

Lots of dull things happen between the abductions and the next interesting part of the movie, so let’s just skip to the end shall we?  The cowboys team up with the Indians, and some robbers that Jake apparently was involved with pre-abduction join in as well.  Turns out Ella isn’t quite who everyone thought she was, and there is some sort of weird Jake and Ella attraction plot which made no sense really, except they were of roughly the same age and the two most attractive people in the movie.  Earthlings and aliens fight, Earthlings win.  Hopefully, that part wasn’t too much of a spoiler for ya.

Summarizing this movie is simple:  it didn’t totally suck, but it wasn’t all that good either.  I found myself looking for a way to root for the Earth people for a reason other than just that they were, well, Earth people — but I couldn’t find one.  The film gives you no reason whatsoever to give a shit about anybody in this movie except the little boy (Emmett, played by Noah Ringer) and the dog (named “Dog” for crying out loud).  You just can’t discount the innocence factor of a boy and his dog no matter what the movie, except maybe Cujo.

I didn’t even hate the aliens all that much.  They weren’t scary (the CGI aliens from Signs were scarier, to give you a hint) and all they really wanted  was our gold.  Since I am trying not to give everything away, just trust me on this one, the aliens blew.  Aside from some hands coming out of their chests (we never find out why they do that BTW) they were unoriginal, mainly humanoid and felt like you had seen them a million times before.  Oh, how this movie makes you long for the aliens in Independence Day.

Bottom line:  I felt like this film was forced.  It came across as more of a vehicle to give Olivia Wilde some screen cred and to suck up to Harrison Ford (the signs are subtle, but there).  The things that  should have been important in this film were cast aside — there was no character development (other than Ford turning from total ass to mostly-not-an-ass by the end), there was only a slight motivation for the audience to care about the outcome and the aliens stunk.

The story line listed on IMDb was more interesting than the actual film, which is sad because the movie had a lot of great actors; but even great acting cannot overcome a bad script.  I’m not saying don’t go see it, just don’t expect it to live up to 1/10th the hype that has been generated for it.  Set your expectation meter to very low and you just may enjoy it.  Otherwise, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

From my brain to yours — peace out.

QUICK NOTE:  I usually mostly agree with IMDb’s movie ratings, but don’t here.  This film did not deserve a 6.8.  Using their 10 star rating system, I would give it a 4, maybe 5 at best — and either one is being kind.

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I started watching Falling Skies when the series premiered, partially because I enjoy good Sci-Fi and partially because TNT brainwashed me into it with the non-stop commercials between other shows and the non-stop advertisements during other shows.  The lead-up advertising for the show was so pervasive, it would not surprise me to find out a TNT representative was beside my bed personally whispering commercials to me while I slept.  So yeah, I have been watching it.

For those of you who may have not seen the show yet, this synopsis should get you pretty much up to date:

  • Some pretty nasty aliens (called Skitters) invade Earth, killing off most of us.  The show revolves around the survivors of that attack.
  • The aliens, instead of killing most of the children (say 7-18 year olds), have “harnessed” them with a sort of weird biological-thingy that attaches to their spinal cord (and God knows what else) to control the children, body and mind.  The upshot of this is that A) the harnesses seem to cure the children of any health problems they had before (in this case cystic-fibrosis) and B) the aliens seem to care about, perhaps even love the harnessed kids.  Awww, isn’t that nice?
  • The survivors are led by military-types (mostly) and kind of look at the civilians in their midst as total pains in the ass.  Ok, maybe not total pains, but pretty much.  (Personally, I think the civilians are unrealistically not bothersome, but maybe that’s just me.)
  • The parents of the harnessed kids obviously want them back, but sans harness, thank you very much.  After a few unfortunate tries (which are only talked about, never shown) the survivors figure out a way to get the harnesses off some of the kids they manage to rescue, but still aren’t sure about potential side effects.

Clearly, there are lots of other things that have happened such as the recent introduction of some sort of new nasty alien.  Well, this one’s not so nasty looking, but they are either in league with or in control of (I vote for the latter) of the Skitters.   Also, based on the last episode, it looks like those wonderful harnesses might have some pretty bad side effects.

So far, the show has done an amazing job of telling the story, developing characters (although I have yet to figure out why they killed off Steven Weber’s character so quickly), and keeping me interested enough to look forward to the next episode.  If you are into Sci-Fi and enjoy a good and (perhaps more importantly) original story you won’t be disappointed with Falling Skies.

The two-hour season finale is this Sunday at 9pm — up an hour from its usual spot at 10pm.  Important:  If you DVR it, it shows up as TWO different shows (at least with my cable company) so you may have to set your DVR to tape both time slots separately to get the whole show.

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