Sunday night, my husband I overcame the lousy title and went to see Cowboys and Aliens. An excellent decision on our part.
When we talked about titles last week, at some point I told you that a title helps clarify "what it is." I stand by that principle ... but it shouldn't tell you "what it is" in the same manner that "Cowboys and Aliens" tells you what it is.
To me, Cowboys and Aliens sounds like something that was said in the pitch meeting. Like the way you might say Ally Carter's I'd Tell You I Love You but Then I'd Have to Kill You is "spies and boarding school."
"Cowboys and Aliens" makes for a good pitch. It's unique, it kinda makes you chuckle and say, "Okay ... what does that look like?" Which then, as the writer, you can say, "I'm so glad you asked," and then launch into your elevator pitch.
When we talked about cliche plots, one of the things we discussed was finding a spin on the traditional genre that would make it unique.
We've all seen westerns. Cowboys and Aliens is a western. It has many of the classic traits - shoot 'em up scenes, the swinging saloon doors, chaps. It's a traditional western ... just with aliens. (As a side note, something I appreciated in this movie was - outside of the title - they never referred to them as "aliens." Instead, they called them demons. Very time appropriate.)
Also, we've all seen alien movies. What do those look like? Us fighting them off with technology, right? Maybe not all of them (one we killed them with the common cold, and Signs it was water) but generally there's a lot of technology involved in alien movies.
But what if aliens didn't come now? What if they came 150 years ago? How would you defeat aliens with bows and arrows? With shot guns?
Prompts some pretty interesting questions, right?
A surprisingly wonderful movie, I thought. Unique, fun, and utterly enjoyable.