Violence and Fantasy at the Movies

Good acting but weird

This past weekend we doubled our movie-going pleasure by seeing action movies Saturday and Sunday. First up was “Cowboys & Aliens,” aka science fiction meets the western.

I must admit that I love the title. It definitely made me want to see how it all played out. The flick starts with Daniel Craig as a cowboy left somewhere in the New Mexico territory in 1875 with no memory and a futuristic-looking bracelet on his left wrist. Of course, like any true cowboy, he doesn’t forget how to be violent.

Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig make an interesting duo.

I’m not sure if Craig was really acting, but he did a good job as the taciturn, trying-to-recall-his-past mystery man. His character holds the key to defeating some bad-bleeping aliens who steal some of the residents of Absolution (where amnesia man ends up) while mining for gold.

Ella pushes Mr. Memory Loss to remember his past.

Harrison Ford does a decent turn as Colonel Dolarhyde, who rules the town. Olivia Wilde as Ella plays an unlikely heroine. There was a good mix of good guys, outlaws, Indians, and, of course, scary aliens.

“Cowboys & Aliens” definitely was action-packed with lots of shooting and a bit of intrigue. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. Fellow asthmatics, be sure to use your inhaler before you go or you might find yourselves gasping for air.

Rating: Two and a half stars out of five. It’s an odd one.

Captain America is almost larger than life.

Next up was “Captain America: The First Avenger,” yet another movie about a Marvel comic book character. It could’ve been subtitled, “Little Guy Makes Good.”

At first, Steve Rogers is small but with a big heart.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a puny guy from Brooklyn, becomes an unlikely hero when German scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (played by the incomparable Stanley Tucci) chemically turns him into a super soldier. Rogers puts together a team that includes his best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to fight evil HYDRA, led by the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), Erskine’s first superhuman scientific experiment.

Peggy Carter hardly disguises her love for Steve Rogers.

Of course, since this is a summer blockbuster flick, there has to be a love interest for the good captain. Haley Atwell is well cast as Agent Peggy Carter; fortunately, the feelings between her and Rogers are backburner stuff that’s never fully explored. Hey, this is an action film about World War II; we don’t need no stinkin’ love scenes!

What’s interesting about “Captain America” is that a body double wasn’t used for Chris Evans. Instead a computer digitally shrunk him.

We enjoyed “Captain America” more than “Cowboys & Aliens,” although the ending caught us offguard. As usual with Marvel movies, be sure to sit through ALL the extremely long credits to see bonus footage of next year’s “The Avengers” flick.

Rating: Three stars

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