There is a chorus-like bemoaning of Hollywood whenever the latest announcement out of tinsel town includes the words: ‘remake,’ ‘sequel,’ ‘adaptation,’ or ‘Rob Schneider’. It’s true, why does every TV show from the 80s require a modern day movie version? Why does the world need another Pirates of the Caribbean? Well, truth be told, the world needs it, because Hollywood needs it.
For every filmic gem, Hollywood needs about a dozen brainless rolls of celluloid imprinted with dudes walking in slo-mo away from an all-engulfing fireball; two people falling in love despite at first hating eachother sooo much, and/or a dreadlocked Johnny Depp stumbling about muttering gibberish. Those are what make the money, those are what keep the cameras rolling on every set – whether it’s a groundbreaking auteur’s opus magnum… or Rocky 9: Sly Needs a New Pair of Shoes.
But wait, I haven’t even brought up the real point of this post… Cowboys and Aliens. Money-milking sequels I can understand; bland big-screen adaptations of dead TV shows I can tolerate; and Michael Bay’s career-long clip reel of explosions? Well, live and let live. But this, Cowboys and Aliens… this is a little sub-genre of a sub-genre that is just too much… it’s a McMovie.
It’s the most blatant, conspicuous cash-mill Hollywood can churn out. It’s a fast-food combo meal. It’s a movie that begins its life not as a story in the head of a screenplay writer, not as the true tale of an extraordinary event in history… not even the adventures of an someone with even a shred of personable charm… no, it’s a tagline padded out into 92 minutes of greasy, unfulfilling garbage. It’s as if particularly lazy producers write down a bunch of cinematic buzzwords, feed them to a dog and see which ones are shat out first. Then it becomes a movie. This time, Rover left a steaming pile of ‘Cowboy’ near a curly ‘Alien’ turd… next time, who knows? We might awake to find Hollywood’s latest executive producer has left us a fresh ‘Robots and Stoic Film Noir Detectives’ on our slippers. Maybe we might find ourselves having to scoop up ‘Extreme Coming-of-Age Band of Lovable Misfits’ off the front lawn. It’s the film equivalent of a famous quote by Woody Allen. “In Beverly Hills,” said Woody, “they don’t throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows.”
Sadly, two formerly respectable actors put their names to this, as if to try and help people overlook the blatant ridiculousness promised by the title and see that Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are involved. Harrison Ford’s age and possible dementia might explain why he’s willing to drop his career in the toilet, but what’s Daniel Craig’s excuse?
The foulest part of this? It worked. Cowboys and Aliens made $36.4 million on its opening weekend in the US and to date has grossed nearly $90 million. Gross indeed.
EDIT: Research informs me this is a comic book adaptation. Yet, as far as I can tell nobody wears a cape, meaning the comic book itself is a sham and my point still stands. Deal with it.