One of the biggest summer anticipations has finally arrived and it has come full circle, ladies and gentlemen! Since 2006 when the graphic-novel was released, all I've wanted was a movie adaptation to be announced on Cowboys and Aliens. For the past year now, I have been patiently waiting for these cowboys to kick some unwanted alien ass! Some of you have had your saying on Green Lantern and Captain America this summer, being avid followers on the fictional comic-book characters. As for me, I've got Cowboys and Aliens this summer to compare a reading to and that is all. I remember my first glance at the graphic-novel a few years back, sitting new and fresh on a shelf at my local comic-book store. "Hey, this looks pretty cool. Is it any good?", I asked the store owner. "Just finished reading it the other night. If you like either genre, you'll love it!", he replied. I spent a five dollar bill well that day, where that night I enjoyed a quick, but extremely fast-paced reading of one of the coolest genre mash-ups I've ever encountered. Does the movie pay the same price, though?
The first trailer for Cowboys and Aliens is really what threw me off a high level of excitement. What it showed me was that not only was it ignoring the actual storyline in the graphic-novel, but none of the characters would be the same either. How could they just drop a fun character like Zeke?! I can honestly admit that this did force me into a short aggression toward this movie adaptation, but soon enough posters and other trailers did bring my excitement up once again, but only a little...very little. I am still pretty disappointed in the way they just re-imagined whole story, but this version is still very fun and good on the eyes. Those who haven't read the graphic-novel will certainly have no issues with this, but those poor bastards like me who didn't receive the CORRECT adaptation will be a little less forgiving.
Let's name through all of the differences and similarities between the movie and graphic-novel. For starters, they do both consist of the same concept of cowboys and aliens. I can't imagine how bad this would've been if they screwed that one up! The characters in the film are one-hundred percent different than the characters in the graphic-novel. In the graphic-novel, the main-character's name is Zeke who is a fun, energetic cowboy who would've been a better fit for the film if it was aiming at making the audience laugh. Cowboys and Aliens is a pretty serious movie all-around. It is fun from start to finish, but it doesn't offer many laughs summer movies like this usually offer. Instead, the lead of the film is Jake, a man suffering from amnesia and is absolutely tuff as nails. The only similarity between Zeke (comic) and Jake (film) is that the two both come across an alien weapon and use it throughout the story. The difference between the weapon is that in the graphic-novel it is a handgun and in the movie it's a bracelet. Not sure what all these differences are for, but in all honesty I prefer both the bracelet and Jake's badass attitude over Zeke any day. That doesn't necessarily mean I like the movie over the graphic novel, though.
What truly makes the graphic-novel a much better read over the film is two little things that precede as much bigger than you'd think. In the graphic-novel, we, the readers, are able to get a look at the aliens point-of-view. In the movie, they are shown as monstrous creatures with no side to tell from their point of war. In the comic there was a main alien controlling others, where in the movie it was just a bunch of them to be destroyed. If the movie had shown the aliens side of the story, (yes, with them talking! In their language, of course, though!) it might have been a little cheesy but it would've been a whole lot better than the way the aliens were shown here. The second thing is that the graphic-novel shows a huge difference in opinion between the cowboys and Indians. Them fighting side by side with each other in the graphic novel developed a sense of trust between the two and also an unlikely friendship. The movie tries to do that here, but it doesn't do it with enough heart or confidence like the comic did. It's a shame too because that was one of my favorite things about the graphic-novel.
Who wouldn't want to see Indiana Jones and James Bond teaming up in cowboy outfits to take on alien creatures? That's a movie experience right there I wouldn't want to miss! Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are both well-cast here where they both feel very comfortable with their material throughout the entire film. The two are both fantastic actors and know how to bring perfect chemistry to the screen and they certainly do just that. Other actors in the film like Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde both do pretty well with their roles too, but the only thing with Wilde was that I only cared for her performance in the first half of the film. Once the movie reached a certain point, I really didn't like the sense of direction they put her character in. Things felt rushed, choppy, and badly crafted at that point and character lost most of my praise. Other than that, the acting in the film reaches no negativity.
You'd think that a team of five writers for the script would be able to adapt the film correctly. I guess it was done purposely for the sake of it being a perfect blockbuster. I can understand adding a few things to plot due to the fact that the graphic-novel was so short, but the only thing that really bothered me was the character changes. While I did love the hell out of Jake's character, Zeke would've been fun to see brought to life on the big screen! I don't think Van Lente, Foley, Calero, Lima, and Rosenberg would be too happy with this movie-version (creators of the graphic-novel). The new script is still quite good though. The dialogue remains perfect and the action is always up to pace. Some little sequences from the graphic-novel could have been reflected though, for the sake of excitement for us fans.
Jon Favreau knows how to make a fun and exciting summer movie and that a fact proven once again with Cowboys and Aliens. His look of the Old West is very well-done and the visual effects adding in the alien spacecrafts are done perfectly. The western genre hasn't been done much too often lately so its rare to get these flicks nowadays. This summer we've gotten it but with a supernatural twist that audiences will be pretty pleased with! Genre mash-ups are always a good time and Cowboys and Aliens definitely doesn't change that. The special-effects are top-notch, the action is splendid, and the popcorn will be worth it! Fans of the comic might be a little disappoint, but not enough to walk out unhappy!
Thanks for the read!
-Written by Corey Wood