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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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
This is a drama but one in which there is a fair amount of comedy and some romance. There are some Hollywood clichés (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.
As always. The people putting in the post here are looking for too much in this movie. This was a fun old geezer movie. So what if it reeked of Armageddon. Client Eastwood going around collecting men to help him save the world. Just like Bruce Willis did. So what if a lot of the "Scientific Facts" did not mess out correctly. Who cares. This was a funny and entertaining movie. I laughed in all of the right places. Just pure entertainment. Nothing to take all serious. Get over it!!!!! If you wanted something serious - read a book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Four old guys going into space to do something for NASA sounds even more
stupid than a bunch of people who normally drill for oil going into space.
Almost. I didn't expect too much of it but Oscar winners like Clint
Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Marcia Gay Harden (OK, she won it after this
movie) and Oscar nominees like James Garner, James Cromwell and a great
actor like Donald Sutherland don't sign up for nothing. For that reason I
saw the movie and (not for that reason alone) I was not
Sometimes a movie is just fun to watch. This is a very good example, and it is even a little more than just fun. Because the guys are old a lot of the jokes come from that area and they are truly funny. There is also suspense. In space the four (Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, James Garner) have to get a Russian satellite back in its orbit and of course things do not always go as planned.
There are some predictable elements, or things I doubt if they are even possible, in the movie but in a movie like this that don't bother me. Great actors, making fun of themselves, a nice story and better visuals than we saw in 'Armageddon' or 'Deep Impact' make this a pleasant surprise.
What movie with Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones. James Garner, James
Cromwell, Donald Sutherland, and Marcia Gay Harden wouldn't be worth a
look. This one has it all, but mostly laughs. This Clint Eastwood
produced and directed movie is great simply because the cast doesn't
appear to take it seriously. They are just having fun. And special
effects? They are better here than other movies like Armageddon and
If you like movies where people are considered outdated or replaceable and prove the experts wrong, then this is the one. I watch it and keep getting reminded about all those COBOL experts who were back making the big bucks just prior to the millennium change.
This is one of the greatest action/dramas that I have ever seen. Not since
ARMAGEDDON has there been such a movie that managed to satisfy my craving
for action, laughter, and drama all at the same time. Clint Eastwood returns
to show us that he can handle any role that comes his way. While the film
was not a really big hit in theaters, it managed to catch my eye at the
video store because it had to do with a failing Russian satellite and since
the four lead actors are so good. Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James
Garner and Donald Sutherland are the title characters and our heroes in
SPACE COWBOYS, one of the most memorable movies of the year for
I enjoyed the way the film slowly develops the characters and shares with us their past history. The film is great in my opinion. The supporting cast includes James Cromwell, Marcia Gay Harden, William Devane, Loren Dean and Courtney B. Vance (Loren Dean and Courtney B. Vance both being men). All of the key actors and elements of the film are wonderful and create a film that is both memorable and, in my opinion, timeless. SPACE COWBOYS gets 5/5.
This has to be one of my all time favourite films. I wasn't sure what to expect. The acting had to be some of the best I've seen in a long time, but with four such amazing lead actors it was hard to believe it could be any other way. The story didn't let the film down either. It could have been so easy for them to have just put in four really well loved actors and then not bother with an exciting and heart wrenching storyline. This is a film which has every emotion flowing, one minute your laughing, the next your on the edge of your seat and can't believe what is happening. It is very rare to come out of the cinema and be blown away by a totally amazing film but this did it. I now have four films which impressed me in the cinema and I'm very pleased to add this one to my list.
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