|Brazilian Portuguese subtitles Space Cowboys||one year ago|
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Minor script problems but a very good film overall
9/10 The year is 1958. Frank Corvin, a bit of a rebel and a hothead, leads Daedalus, a small Air Force team training to be the first men in space. However, his lead pilot, William "Hawk" Hawkins is even wilder. He pushes a test flight beyond its limit. They have to bail out. The plane is destroyed, and it leads the project director, Bob Gerson, to pull the plug on Daedalus and set his sights on putting a chimp into space first instead.4 years ago
We cut to the present (circa 2000). A Russian "communications satellite" is experiencing problems and will return to Earth if it isn't fixed. We see a Russian General, Vostow (Rade Serbedzjia) and Gerson (James Cromwell), now a NASA director, agreeing to attempt repair. The only problem is that the guidance system is so antiquated--it's the same as the old Skylab guidance system--that no one in NASA can quite figure it out, and they only have a few weeks to act. It turns out that Corvin (Clint Eastwood) designed the guidance system. Gerson and Corvin understandably hate each other because of the events in 1958, but Gerson gives the okay to contact Corvin to see if he can fix the system somehow or train others to do it. Corvin finally agrees, but only if Gerson consents to a seemingly crazy plan--Corvin wants the four members of Daedalus--Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones), Jerry O'Neill (Donald Sutherland), Tank Sullivan (James Garner) and himself, all now senior citizens--to be sent up in the space shuttle to fix the satellite.
As many have pointed out, Space Cowboys seems like a bit of a riff on Armageddon (1998), and understandably so--an unlikely, gruff, motley crew are sent into space by NASA on short notice to stave off some kind of impending disaster. However, it would be difficult to say that Space Cowboys was directly influenced by Armageddon. They're too close in time, and scripts have a tendency to float around Hollywood for a while before they're picked up and greenlighted. What seems more likely is that Space Cowboys was just another one of the films riding on a trend in the late 1990s for sending motley crews into the face of danger in some kind of insular vehicle, against all odds, to "save the planet". It wasn't only Armageddon that had that plot, and at any rate, anyone who regularly reads my reviews knows that I disagree with the "cult of originality". Films aren't better just because they're unprecedented. Space Cowboys does the plot just as well as Armageddon.
Besides, like Armageddon, there are other stories happening here, too. The focus is much more on the geriatric crew and their relationships to each other and a few select NASA employees. After the period intro, the bulk of the film focuses on Corvin fighting for the agreement to get his friends into space, trying to get his friends regrouped, fighting against Gerson, who is trying to sabotage him in various ways, and Daedalus' training period.
Given that structure, the casting was extremely important. Eastwood, who also directed, produced and contributed some of the music, put together an excellent bunch. Eastwood, Jones, Sutherland and Garner mesh extremely well, even if Sutherland and Garner do not get nearly as much screen time. This is a fairly serious film in many ways, but it also has a strong comic element running throughout. Eastwood and scriptwriters Ken Kaufman and Howard Klausner find a nice balance between the film's various modes. Although the NASA-oriented material works well enough, the best moments arrive through the core cast's more mundane interactions, including the scenes where Corvin first tracks his friends down.
We know that Eastwood as a director is extremely skilled and multifaceted. Even at that, it was surprising initially to see him tackle film with sci-fi elements, but he's just as adept here, whether it's creating suspenseful moments that hinge on dial-loaded equipment or achieving attractive "space" cinematography. He proves a natural at the latter--the closing scene of the film is one of the more poetic yet economical in cinema history.
However, some of the film's minor flaws also arrive with the sci-fi material, but seem to emanate from the script. The dialogue can become too jargony and/or gobbledy-gooky to follow, especially during a few crucial moments. I never did quite follow the final solution to the dilemma, despite rewinding the DVD a couple times and putting on the subtitles, although I was able to figure out the gist of it so it made sense in a more fantastical way.
But even without a full comprehension of the plot details when it came to technology-oriented ideas, Eastwood as a director is able to completely wrap you up in the film emotionally. The climax is sustained and will have you on the edge of your seat, ready to cheer the penultimate scene, despite realizing how ridiculous it is to do this towards your television.
Although it's not a "perfect" film, Space Cowboys delivers just what it should--a very entertaining "ride" with a fair amount of poignant subtexts about friendship, loyalties and our culture's off-base conventions/popular beliefs about age and ability.
Actors Take Center Stage
7/10 This was a pretty enjoyable tale of "The Ripe Stuff," four old geezers going up into space to help save a project they had a hand in years ago. It's pretty long at 130 minutes but the four diverse characters help keep your interest. Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner are quite a foursome. Add Marcia Gay Harden to the mix, along with Loren Dean, Courtney Vance and James Cromwell and you have a fabulous cast.4 years ago
This is a drama but one in which there is a fair amount of comedy and some romance. There are some Hollywood cliches (a suspect boss, arguing pals going back-and-forth all the time, a weak minister, etc.) but they aren't as blatant as usual.
The storytelling is pretty good but the real show here is not the story but that group of veteran actors. One joke was overplayed: Sutherland and the size of genitals. Not real classy stuff but, overall, the movie is fine. Definitely a rental, at the least.
Yea right, we have John Glenn to thank for this one.
7/10 Space Cowboys builds its humor around a quartet of aged characters who seize their first and last opportunity to fulfill their lifelong goal of going into space. Space Cowboys satirizes the traditionally romanticized conception of the young hero by portraying its characters as sagacious --yet imperfect-- old men.4 years ago
Space Cowboys revisits its embittered protagonist, the retired Air Force test pilot Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood), forty years after a humiliating episode where he is replaced by a monkey for a 1958 NASA mission to space. Unexpectedly, Frank is summoned by ex-boss and NASA official Bob Gerson (James Cromwell) to fix a Russian communications satellite that is soon to crash, and that contains the obsolete guidance system that he and his colleagues designed for the earlier satellite, Skylab. Realizing he is the only one who can fix the system, Frank coerces the desperate Bob into rehiring his old team: pilot Hawk Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones), structural engineer Jerry O'Neil (Donald Sutherland), and navigator Tank Sullivan (James Garner) --all seemingly unlikely candidates for the task at hand. Gaining the trust of NASA Engineer Sara Holland (Marcia Gay Harden) and the mistrust of flight director Eugene Davis (William Devane), the reunited "Team Daedalus" face the biggest mission of their lives.
Space Cowboys, which benefits from the performances of four seasoned actors, successfully establishes its four main characters as the source for all its comedy. Space Cowboys' initial introduction of its protagonist (in the brief black and white sequence which includes the humiliating incident with the monkey), offers a convenient setup which allows the ellipsis of forty years to hyperbolize the four characters' emotional states and to justify their subsequent actions. Furthermore, this initial sequence, which also depicts the four characters as audacious US Air Force pilots, establishes itself as a point of reference against which the present inconsequential lives of Frank, Hawk, Jerry and Tank will be contrasted.
Space Cowboys subtly and effectively creates an analogy between the characters and the troublesome "guidance system": while the men's present occupations are portrayed as rather useless, the guidance system's design is described as old and obsolete, yet neither the men nor the system are entirely expendable. (This suggested duality of man/system is emphasized by Frank's ironic statement: "...it wasn't designed for this duration.") While Space Cowboys draws its humor from the characters' efforts to revert to their prior occupation and regain importance, the second part of the film --the mission-- serves a dramatic purpose, where the characters' true mission is to disprove the others' belief that they are outdated and replaceable. Narratively, Space Cowboys' space sequence does little more than simply prolong the characters' task of proving themselves, yet visually, it offers eye-catching special effects and set design.
Nevertheless, Space Cowboys succeeds more as a comedy that deconstructs its heroes than as a drama that exalts their heroism.
A nice little movie, not too outrageous and the expert acting makes it enjoyable
7/10 We own this movie in our home collection and we haven't watched it in a while. Saw it again tonight on TV, and realized that it is still a good movie.4 years ago
Clint Eastwood produces and directs this movie, and draws some "experienced" actors to help him fill the lead roles. They manage to extol the trials and tribulations of the senior years, while still capturing the exuberance of youth from the past.
the story leads a mildly predictable pattern, but in this case it is not the end of the story that is primarily important, but instead how they get there. Also, all 4 lead actors all come off as really having a good time in the movie, it feels like they really enjoyed making this one and it comes out on the screen in the performances.
The pace is even and smooth, again demonstrating Clint Eastwood's legacy of directing and acting in watchable, enjoyable movies, no matter what the gender.
I should also mention that the special effects and the space sequences are stunning and much better done than most other movies in near-earth space. That would be the industrial Light and Magic team doing it again.
8/10 While much of the film is predictable (except for a couple of surprises) and and almost certainly implausible, the movie was enjoyable because of the camradarie between the characters and the theme of redemption. How often does someone get a second chance and then also make good on it? The sets and special effects were very convincing and Eastwood seems to be good at both the artistic and technical aspects of directing. There's great chemistry between the stars as well. All in all, a very enjoyable movie, 8/10.4 years ago