Life Itself

September 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening
Directed by: Dan Fogelman (“Danny Collins”)
Written by: Dan Fogelman (“Danny Collins”)

Dan Fogelman, creator and executive producer of the hit NBC series “This is Us,” seems to have the television drama formula worked out better than most — a little yank at the heartstrings here, a heartwarming relationship there, a dash of solid character development and throw in some nonlinear storylines. After only two seasons, viewers and critics are eating it up.

As the writer and director behind the feature film “Life Itself,” however, using a similar template is a disastrous exercise in emotional manipulation and pretentious storytelling. It’s the kind of screenplay that needed a few more rounds of workshopping. As is, it should’ve been tossed into a bin of scripts destined to never be seen again.

It’s regrettable since Fogelman, whose first foray into filmmaking was 2015’s Al Pacino vehicle “Danny Collins,” assembles a more-than-capable cast led by Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Olivia Wilde (“Drinking Buddies”). Broken into five muddled and overwritten chapters, the film starts with an introduction to Will (Isaac), a sad sack of a man we see during his happier times when he’s courting the love of his life, Abby (Wilde), but also during his court-mandated counseling sessions with his therapist, Dr. Morris (Annette Bening).

In this chapter, Fogelman pulls out all the stops and crams the melodrama with so many unnecessary and contrived components, one may wonder if he thought he would even get to finish the last four segments. This part of the film includes a nod to the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” when Will goes back in time to see random moments in the past that will likely shape his future. It’s one of the many times Fogelman needlessly reminds the audience that fate will catch up to everyone eventually.

Fogelman mucks up his clichéd screenplay even more by employing the storytelling technique known as the “unreliable narrator,” a term coined by literary critic Wayne C. Booth in 1961, which argues that a narrator of a story can’t be trusted because he or she is telling it from a single perspective. Fogelman essentially suggests that the storytellers he’s chosen to recollect their own memories might be remembering incorrectly. The decision to include this narrative device is a lazy choice that allows Fogelman to offer moviegoers various interpretations or perspectives of the same scene — scenes that ultimately fall flat.

As the film stumbles into the other chapters, Fogelman abandons most of his filmmaking gimmickry to connect Will and Abby to a host of other characters — their adult daughter Dylan (Olivia Cooke) and a family living in Spain — but by then it’s fairly evident where everything will end up. Unfortunately, wallowing in a cinematic abyss of tragedy, pain and victimization is better suited for fans of the “Saw” franchise.

Third Person

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody
Directed by: Paul Haggis (“Crash”)
Written by: Paul Haggis (“Crash”)

Writer and director Paul Haggis is no stranger to the narrative device of balancing multiple storylines and character threads and attempting to bring them together physically or thematically. It did, after all, win him a Best Picture Oscar with “Crash,” an award that remains possibly the biggest Oscar stunner of the modern era. With “Third Person,” Haggis, who has only directed two films since 2004, returns to juggling parallel narratives only to clumsily drop them all at once.

“Third Person” tells the tale of three relationships in different stages and circumstances. In Paris, a writer (Liam Neeson) has a complicated relationship with a mistress (Olivia Wilde); in Italy, a businessman (Adrien Brody) has a run-in with a woman (Moran Atias) who is trying to get her daughter back; and in New York, a woman (Mila Kunis) is trying to regain custody of her child from her husband (James Franco) after a serious incident.

Though the screenplay constantly weighs them down, some of the actors of the impressive ensemble are able to turn in good performances in spots. The most consistent of the bunch is Neeson, who finally gets a role where he isn’t kicking ass on air, land or sea. It isn’t exactly nuanced, but it’s one of the least annoying characters in the film. Brody for his part is also fine, particularly where he gets to rattle off a couple of one-liners in the film’s opening. Wilde and Kunis, for their parts, get to show off some chops, though their characters are written tremendously weak. They both get to tap into emotional breakdowns and while their reasons might be absurd (especially in the case of Wilde) they are able to show dramatic range.

The aforementioned characters, however, are just a fraction of the giant roster of people who take up screen time. It becomes a serious issue as Haggis so overstuffs the film that there are often gaps where the audience doesn’t see a certain character for 15-20 minutes – not that the audience would miss any of them. Frankly, the design of the characters and their relationships with one another seems to elicit emotions ranging from indifference to strong indifference.

As the film trudges on, the screenplay and story wither into dust as plot points grow in banality and Haggis runs through the cliché handbook to carry the film forward. The big “twist” and conceit of the film is painfully obvious early on and, for whatever reason, Haggis feels the need to take over two hours to get there. When it finally happens and Haggis pulls the rug from under his audience, it is almost insulting in its execution. If there was anything character or story-wise worth becoming invested in, the last 15 minutes of “Third Person,” including a completely nonsensical, lazy ending, would have been an offense worthy of heaving objects at the screen.

“Third Person” doesn’t really turn into a disaster until its final act. The rest is bad, but generally watchable and mostly inoffensive. In what is becoming a troublesome trend, screenwriters and directors are squandering A-list ensemble casts at an alarming rate. For Haggis, “Third Person” takes a talented cast but a tired idea and runs it straight into the ground. If there is any lesson to be learned from “Third Person,” it is that sometimes less is more.

Better Living Through Chemistry

March 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan
Directed by: Geoff Moore and David Posamentier (debut)
Written by: Geoff Moore and David Posamentier (debut)

As he did with the independent comedy “The Way, Way Back” last year, actor Sam Rockwell’s performance keeps a pair of first-time directors from striking out with their debut film “Better Living Through Chemistry,” a dark comedy Rockwell owns despite the script’s numerous shortcomings.

In the film, Rockwell plays Doug Varney, a small-town pharmacist who is looked down upon by everyone in his life, including his athletic wife Kara (Michelle Monaghan) and father-in-law and former boss Walter (Ken Howard), who, after retiring, sells his pharmacy to Doug, but refuses to let him change the name. Doug, although he is an “authentically nice guy,” is weak and his life is unfulfilled. But when he meets a new and very attractive resident of his small town, Elizabeth Roberts (Olivia Wilde), he finds a new zest for life he never knew he had in him.

It’s unfortunate, however, the same zest can’t be found in the pages of first-time directors/writers Geoff Moore and David Posamentier’s screenplay. Doug’s nice-guy persona works well for Rockwell and it’s great to watch him flex his muscles when Doug finally breaks, but few, if any, of the underwritten secondary characters give him much support. Overall, it’s the tone of Moore and Posamentier’s film that can’t cement itself into one particular genre with much conviction. At times, the dark comedy elements seem like they want to push outside the limited sphere the co-writers have created, but the darker humor and on-the-edge characterizations never expand into much.

It takes Rockwell to craft his lead role into a likeable and believable character to make “Chemistry” really snap together. By the time that happens, Jane Fonda has made an on-camera cameo (added to her role as narrator of the film, which turns out to be unrewarding) and the picture just sort of dissolves from memory like Aspirin in water.

O. Wilde, J. Johnson, R. Livingston, A. Kendrick – Drinking Buddies (DVD)

December 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

In the improvised dialogue-heavy and ultimately scriptless indie romantic comedy “Drinking Buddies,” which was just release on DVD and Blu-ray last week, actors Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde star as Luke and Kate, two co-workers at a brewery who spend a lot of time flirting with each other despite both having significant others.

During interviews earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival where “Drinking Buddies” made its original debut before hitting VOD platforms and theaters later in the year, the cast (Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick) and director (Joe Swanberg) of the film sat down to talk about the pros of shooting a movie without a script and what it was like wetting their whistles in Chicago.

Your characters drink quite a lot in the film. How close do you think they are to actually being alcoholics?

Olivia Wilde: Oh, we’re above the level [of alcoholism].

Jake Johnson: Yeah, we’re definitely alcoholics.

(Everyone laughs)

Joe Swanberg: You know, I didn’t realize how much [the cast] was drinking until I started editing the film. It didn’t feel, on a day-to-day basis, that it was that much.

Olivia Wilde: Yeah, that’s the first sign of alcoholism – when it seems alright to have [alcohol] for breakfast. (Laughs) A few people who saw the movie felt like we had purposely made a movie about young alcoholics, which I thought was really interesting. It certainly wasn’t intended, but I guess some people see more layers.

Ron Livingston: But you guys [Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson] work in that brewery so you do drink a lot of beer.

Jake Johnson: Yeah, we drink a lot of beer.

And shots.

Olivia Wilde: Yeah, the shots were not real. They were like ice tea or something like that. It’s harder to fake beer – to make apple juice look like beer. We wanted to pay homage to craft beer brewing. We all have such a respect for it. We wanted to learn as much about it as we could, which meant participating in [drinking].

Joe Swanberg: Yeah, I mean the second you guys got into town, the first thing we did was brew beer together. I was excited to expose you guys to it. I hate movies that are set in a world where it seems like they get everything wrong. Because you guys weren’t really brewers, it was hard to find a way you guys could talk about brewing beer that was realistic, but wasn’t so detailed that it seemed fake. It was important to me that if a brewer watched this movie, nothing would pull them out of it. We shot the film at Revolution Brewery in Chicago. Craft brewing is one of the really cool things happening in Chicago right now. I looked at every brewery space there. Not only were the guys at Revolution really great and welcoming us into that world, the space is gorgeous. It was brand new. It’s huge with all these whiskey barrels around. The guys were super nice. I think they might’ve kept Jake and just hired him on as a brewer.

Can you talk a little more about the sexual tension that is portrayed in the film between the characters? Of course, there is the hiking scene with Anna and Ron where they kiss, but there’s also a lot of tickling going on between Jake and Olivia for most of the movie. Did those scenes come natural to you all?

Olivia Wilde: You know what’s funny is that during those scenes you are operating with the right side of your brain. So, you can improvise for a while and then not remember anything you’ve done. So, yeah, it was so instinctual that it’s almost like you black out. For me, that happens on stage and certainly on this film. Watching it for the first time I remembering thinking, “I don’t remember saying that. I don’t remember doing that.” During a lot of those flirtatious scenes, Joe set it up and said, “OK, make the sandwich.” We thought, “OK, what if doing anything with this person was just so much fun?” Certainly for Kate, making this sandwich [with Luke] is like her dream come true. So, for her, making this sandwich with him and having this food fight with him was like the ultimate activity! Those scenes were about the pure bliss of interacting with someone that makes you feel that way.

Joe Swanberg: Those scenes were a lot of fun to shoot because I think those are the scenes in life where you’re improvising anyway. It’s those situations where the boundaries are getting blurry and there’s no precedent for it. There’s a million situations you’ve been in during your life where there is a precedent. You know how to go to a business meeting. You know how to have interaction as a student with a teacher. But then there are those situations where you’re misbehaving and are outside of the boundary lines and you’re on your toes and you’re like, “Oh, shit. I’ve never done this before. Is this wrong?” And you start making it up.

Jake Johnson: Also, it was fun working with Olivia. So, we got to know each other through our characters. So, the times we hung out, we both had people to see in Chicago after work. So, it was like, “This was a really fun day. I’ll see you tomorrow.” So, I got to know Kate as I got to know Olivia. So, when you had a fun scene it was fun and it would carry on. And those fight scenes we got in, we would have these really intense fights. It felt bad. Then I felt bad in terms of Jake and Olivia. So, when you have scenes like that with people you really respect like Olivia and Anna and Ron, it is impossible not to react and get intimate. So, in those scenes where we’re flirting with each other, Joe would set the scene and we would just try to live in it. If you were working with someone who wasn’t that strong, it would’ve been a lot harder.

Anna Kendrick: For me when we shot our scene, it was hard.

Ron Livingston: It was harder for you than it was for me.

(Everyone laughs)

Anna Kendrick: But it was a really tricky scene. I mean, how do you make sense that this happened? (Spoiler: Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston’s characters go on a picnic and end up fooling around).I mean, what would be the circumstances where these two people who aren’t tickling each other would fall into this kiss? I remember being really happy that we got it in one take and that everybody was happy and we were moving on and wouldn’t have to spend the whole afternoon pouring over how we could make it better.

Ron Livingston: Absolutely.

Anna Kendrick: So, I was so happy that it worked. Everyone was gathering up equipment and we were moving out of the woods to a new location and suddenly it occurred to me that I would have to tell [Luke] what happened and I immediately started crying. I turned away from everybody because I knew it was my responsibility to come up with those words. It was the scene where I would have to figure out how to tell [Luke].

Jake Johnson: Right.

Anna Kendrick: (To Jake) That’s where all the lines start getting blurry. It felt bad when I realized I would have to confess to you.

Ron Livingston: That’s where I feel this process (filming a movie without a script) is helpful. If that scene was scripted and you say, “OK, you’re going to have a picnic and you’re going to say these lines and then you’re going to kiss her,” it would’ve made it a different scene. Once you have that freedom and all you know is that you’re going to have a picnic and at some point you’re going to kiss her, it’s more honest. We didn’t want to fake it. All of a sudden it gets funny and awkward and made sense. You wait for it and then when it all of a sudden happens, it makes sense that you waited for it.

Jake Johnson: Part of the reason I hope this movie is well received is because you can see, even in this conversation, that the process [to make “Drinking Buddies”] was so weird in such a good way. (Laughs) I’m not like a 40-year-old veteran or anything, but, man, nothing feels like a Joe Swanberg movie. I say that as a complement. I mean, there was a scene where Olivia and I get into a fight and I text her later and asked, “Are we good?”

(Everyone laughs)

Olivia Wilde: Jake text, “I just need to know that we’re all right.”

Jake Johnson: This movie is weird! It’s fucking with my head!

Olivia Wilde: It’s like the scene with the bonfire. I think that was the first time in a movie where I was like, “You know, I really think I want to take my clothes off here.” It just felt like that’s what Kate would do at that moment. She would go skinny dipping. And Joe was like, “If you feel comfortable with that, go ahead. I think that makes sense in this world.” And you never know if Luke followed her in or not the next morning.

Jake Johnson: I told Joe, “You know, I think Luke follows her into the lake.” He was like, “Nah, bro.”

(Everyone laughs)

Ron Livingston: It’s like an NFL team saying, “We don’t need a fucking playbook.” It’s just different from any other kind of movie that you’ll see.

Jake Johnson: And I really hope somebody has the courage to give Swanberg $20 million. Whatever that movie is, I want to be in it. I want to see it.

(Everyone laughs)

Rush

September 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Ron Howard (“Frost/Nixon”)
Written by: Peter Morgan (“The Queen”)

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”), redeems himself after his last few downfalls (“The Dilemma,” “Angels & Demons”) with “Rush,” a perfectly-paced and exciting action-drama starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. The film follows two racecar drivers who create a rivalry with each other in the 1976 Formula One racing circuit.

In “Rush,” Howard introduces his audience to racers James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl) and the competitive and money-driven racing world they both want to control. With stellar cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours”) and the strong script by screenwriter Peter Morgan (“Frost/ Nixon,” “The Queen”), the intricately developed relationship between James and Niki pushes “Rush” across the finish line and crowns it a champion of good cinema.

The conflict begins when James finds himself trailing behind Niki, Formula One’s world champion, during the 1976 racing season. When they arrive to a race in Germany, aptly nicknamed “The Graveyard” for its treacherous track, it is pouring rain. Niki calls for a drivers’ meeting with the intention to cancel the race. However, when he is outvoted by his fellow racers, he is forced to race on the dangerous track. In a horrific accident later that day, Niki almost loses his life when he hits a wall and his car bursts into flames, thus putting James in the perfect position to catch up and clench his title. Although Niki is confined to the hospital undergoing treatments and surgeries, he allows his competitive spirit to get the best of him as he watches James chip away at the leaderboard.

Delving deep into each character, Hemsworth and Bruhl bring to life this amazing historic rivalry. On the surface, they are polar opposites – Niki, a stark and meticulous German racer, and James, a sex-crazed British party boy. As their backstories and common underlying desire to be the best racer emerge on screen though, so does their respect for one another. Bruhl draws you close with his first-rate performance while Hemsworth’s physical stature reinforces his “ladies man” persona.

As a high-risk sport, moviegoers experience the thrill of Formula One racing during the most climactic parts of the film, all of which feel like you’re right there on the track. Close up shots of speeding tires and turning engines leave you at the edge of your seat, and intensifies the movie’s pace and audience’s adrenaline.

Movies like “Rush” remind us that topical cinema, relevant or irrelevant to our interests, can be inspiring and sometimes great if given the chance. Race fan or not, “Rush” is a must-see, even if only for its character-driven plot line and almost flawless lead performances.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

March 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi
Directed by: Don Scardino (TV’s “30 Rock”)
Written by: Jonathan M. Goldstein (“Horrible Bosses”) and John Francis Daley (“Horrible Bosses”)

It used to be that magic was something as simple as a few card tricks, pulling a rabbit out of a hat or in the case of the most famous magician of all-time Harry Houdini, performing death-defying escape acts. Somewhere along the line, however, acts like Criss Angel and David Blaine showed up, who while maintaining the traditional sense of magic, began injecting large-scale, often endurance-based stunts like being trapped under ice or standing on things for long periods of time. With this came the transition from Vegas acts to TV specials. The landscape of magician-related entertainment was changing. As a very loose social commentary of sorts, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” shows the exaggerated difference between old-school and new-school magicians.

As people get tired of watching the recycled acts of Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) they begin to flock to street magician Steve Grey (Jim Carrey) who performs absurd stunts. When Wonderstone and Marvelton have a falling out, Wonderstone is forced to come up with a magic act on his own for the first time. When Burt has a revelation that he isn’t the same on his own, it is up to him to try to reconnect with a partner to win back his audience.

Though “Burt Wonderstone” has its comedic moments that work, it is surprising how little of the laughs come as a direct result of the seasoned comedic cast. Carell’s character is brash, annoying, and has character traits that seem to come and go at random (his accent, for example). Buscemi disappears halfway through the film, having failed to make a true comedic impact. His return later on doesn’t provide much humor either. Carrey’s appearance winds up being more of an extended cameo. He will periodically appear on the screen to do his wacky trademark Carrey stuff and then just disappear for large chunks of time. Simply put, nobody in the cast is particularly funny despite some of the scenarios they are involved in hitting their mark.

Most of what works in “Burt Wonderstone” comes from sight gags, both subtle and occasionally overtly goofy. Things like Wonderstone trying to perform a magic trick after the separation between him and his partner are legitimately funny. Other magic tricks performed during the film are actually amusing.  That isn’t to say all of them are. Carrey’s character, which is the most obvious Criss Angel exaggeration possible, makes his living off shocking stunts that are too grotesque to be considered magic. The first of his stunts involving a card trick and a knife is particularly funny, but the concept of stupid stunts wears out its welcome fast. It is definitely not helped by the over-the-top performance Carrey is know for delivering.

The final act of the film is absurd, but thanks to a pretty funny epilogue, is somehow acceptable. Mainly, “Burt Wonderstone” wastes its strong comedic cast. The subject matter is a little outdated with traditional magicians and magic shows seemingly weaning in popularity. But perhaps even cloaked in irony, the goal of “Burt Wonderstone” is to reignite people to that type of entertainment.

The Change-Up

August 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann
Directed by: David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”)
Written by:  Jon Lucas (“The Hangover”) and Scott Moore (“The Hangover”)

Body-switching comedies like “The Change-Up” are tough to wrap your head around. Typically they involve ordinary people living ordinary lives in an ordinary world suddenly and inexplicably visited upon by some sort of magic. In the real world, such a thing would probably destroy the psyches of the people involved. Questions of their place in the universe would arise, and likely they would be driven mad because really, who would believe you were the victim of a magic spell instead of just a simple mental illness? Instead, in these movies, the switched parties are initially shocked but then end up accepting the enchantment, playing pretend, and admiring their new private parts in the mirror.

The victims of this free-floating sorcery in “The Change-Up” are workaholic lawyer Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) and sporadically-employed actor Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds).  Dave is married with three kids, stuck in a rut of late-night diaper changes and “dialogue nights” meant to save his marriage. Mitch is single, prowling around an adolescent bachelor pad with a samurai sword and a steady stream of sexual conquests streaming through the door. The lifelong friends reconnect after a night of drinking and baseball, each envious of the other‘s life. An impromptu bathroom break in a downtown fountain, coupled with a power outage and a simultaneous wish, conjures up the body-switching magic.

What follows is Body Switching Comedy 101: wouldn’t you know it, today is the most important day in Dave’s career. He has to close The Big Deal in order to make partner, but his consciousness is stuck in Mitch’s body. And of course Mitch has a big “acting” gig lined up today, but, as you remember, they’ve switched bodies. Still, they might as well get used to it because they can’t just go pee in the fountain again because it’s been moved, you see, and the government bureaucracy involved in finding it will mean lots of waiting and living each other’s lives. Yes, this random magic is beholden to paperwork.

The cast is likable. It’s refreshing to see Bateman play a callous jerk instead of just the flustered straight man, and it’s nice to see Reynolds in something that isn’t “The Green Lantern.” And Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde are on board for the requisite R-rated nudity. While “The Change-Up” does have laughs, far too many of the attempts come from things like CGI-enhanced babies and their high-velocity poop.

Cowboys & Aliens

July 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”)
Written by: Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek”), Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”), Mark Fergus (“Iron Man”), Hawk Otsby (“Iron Man”), Damon Lindelof (debut)

Throughout movie theaters across the country, the trailer for “Cowboys and Aliens” was met with uproarious laughter when the title card was revealed. Although seemingly not any more preposterous of a plot than a teenager infused with spider DNA, audiences chuckled incredulously. With audiences laughing at the mere concept of the film, there was added pressure on director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) to keep a serious tone and to strike a convincing balance between the western and sci-fi genre. What we actually get is a film with no true identity.

The film opens with Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) waking up in the middle of a desert not knowing where or who he is and with a strange device attached to his wrist. When he heads into the nearest town, Lonergan discovers that he is a wanted criminal and is set to be turned over to the feds. While Jake is intercepted by the begrudging Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), aliens attack the town of Absolution, taking many of its residents with it. Though confused and shocked by the events, Jake, Colonel, the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), and others band together to go on a rescue mission to fight the alien race and recover their loved ones who have been abducted.

For a film starring two strong actors and a supporting cast to match, the acting in “Cowboys and Aliens” is incredibly flat. Both Craig and Ford seem to be going through the motions, giving plastic performances with only a few explosive moments. Not even the always-dependable Sam Rockwell (“Moon”) can muster a memorable performance.  However, the actors are not totally at fault here. With a cheesy, cliché-ridden script, the writers (five accredited ones to be exact) take a solid cast and give them nothing to do with their characters. No effort is made to give us a reason to root for these people other than the obvious “us vs. them” reasoning.

One of the biggest problems surrounding “Cowboys and Aliens” is that it attempts to combine two genres, and in the process fails on being a good version of either. The Western elements are not nearly compelling enough. While the familiar costumes and sets are there, the swagger and strong characters of true Westerns are sadly missing. The film incorporates its sci-fi elements with generic and predictable action beats, there for the sole purpose of showing the aliens and what they can do. It has the same tired and predictable sci-fi moments that you’ve seen a hundred times before.  You know when an alien is going to meet its end and you know when some unsuspecting human is going to get snatched.  It’s been done before, and in much more interesting ways. When coupled with some spotty CGI work, the end product is a film that turns out being a mediocre sci-fi movie set in the Old West.

But beyond all of its shortcomings at mashing genres and at a run time of about two hours, the biggest problem is that “Cowboys and Aliens” is unnecessarily long-winded and isn’t very much fun. It relies so heavily on mesmerizing you with its visuals that no care is given to the story.  And while the trailer provided audiences with laughs, the actual film is more likely to produce yawns.