Neil Fox on film (17.08.11)

Cowboys & Aliens

The last big film of the summer arrives with a muted fanfare and heralds the end of a frankly awful blockbuster season. Come back, Christopher Nolan, all is forgiven.

Next summer we have The Dark Knight Rises and the Spiderman and Superman reboots so let’s just get this season over with sharpish. Only Harry Potter and Super 8 really stand out.

Jon Favreau’s rise to the top table in Hollywood was quickened with the surprise smash of Iron Man, but it all went to his head with the abominable Iron Man 2. He has work to do now and he sort of succeeds with this strange and beguiling film.

It’s a story which you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. Aliens crash-land in the Wild West to take over the world and face resistance from the local cowboys who are already trying to defend their town from a rollicking stagecoach robber/ killer. Daniel Craig plays the killer and Harrison Ford the lawman charged with stopping him. They inevitably join forces when aliens invade.

The film is fun in parts, with some great effects and sequences. The problem is it’s such a silly idea, but the film takes itself so seriously.

If it was only just a little tongue-in-cheek and less stony-faced it could have been a real belter, but that’s where Favreau too frequently comes up short.

The Inbetweeners

Quick! People love The Inbetweeners TV comedy series, so let’s cash in with a movie version where they head to sunnier climes in search of sex and alcohol.

What’s that you say? Kevin And Perry Go Large? Nah, it’s much better than that, this is the Inbetweeners!

But sadly it’s not. It’s a shallow cash-in movie that is a pale version of Carry On Abroad, a big screen bandwagon that is purely out to make money rather than make us laugh.

The ‘gang’ head to Crete for predictable sun, sand and sexual frustration and sadly all they encounter are clichés and hackneyed gags and scenarios involving fumbles and drunkenness.

The Guard

John Michael McDonagh is the brother of Martin McDonagh who made the incomparable In Bruges. His debut feature is a dark, twisted and very funny thriller in that vein.

It’s riotous in places, well-written and featuring strong performances.

An eccentric, rural Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) who is, well, flexible with the law, has his peace and power shattered when FBI agent (Don Cheadle) arrives to investigate an international drug smuggling ring.

The film is part thriller, part Western, full-on black comedy – too long and at times, too knowing, but overall, it’s a great debut film.