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Boy, does this movie stretch your suspension of disbelief!  With the amount of technical research that was investigated into this film, somehow the laws of physics took a seat at the back of the space shuttle.

And even though the four major stars (portraying NASA's 'Daedalus' team) bring a lot of credibility to the scenes, it's the rest of the cast that seem to have a very hard time acting on cue, especially when it comes to 'laughing' or 'looking worried' - it's especially hard to stomach it when you feel they've been forced to do it in a hundred takes or so.  There are also a couple of plot-holes the size of a comet hurtling to earth that are never fully explained or resolved, yet they're continually referred upon to add to the drama (ahem!).  Apart from that, this is an okay space adventure romp.

Space Cowboys
Movie
Four astronauts-in-training are unexpectedly replaced by a chimpanzee to become the first American in space.  40 years later, one of these astronauts (not the chimp) is called upon by NASA to advise them on a guidance system that he designed, which is now in a Russian-made satellite that's slowly descending to earth.  He finally agrees to help them on the condition that he and his old team are sent up there, and on the pretence that they are the only people who know how to operate the machinery given the limited time constraints they have.  Although everything is not as it seems at first ...

Video
Not bad at all.  The first two thirds of this movie is on the ground (with the majority of it in the daytime) so the quality here is very clear and detailed, but there are some slight MPEG artifacts which only affect a couple of scenes.  The night shots and subsequent 'outer space' footage are a little too dark for my tastes (the worst being Tommy Lee Jones' courting scene) but the black levels are strong and gratefully don't overlap the 'orbital action'.  Then again, we are in space.  Overall, it's good enough for the old man.

Space Cowboys
Audio
Pretty much what we'd expect from Hollywood these days.  The dialogue is easily understandable throughout the film even with the loudest of SFX.  There's not much going on in the first two acts to demonstrate much of your home-theatre system with, except maybe the 'Bi-Plane' and 'G-Force Experiment' sequences.  However things really go off with a bang after the space-shuttle launch utilising both sub-woofer and split-rear speakers galore.  Uh, but isn't 'outer space' totally silent (no oxygen, no sound)?  This, along with the factual errors of the movie, is where credibility is further discredited - but I doubt that anyone will give a toss when it sounds this good!

Extras
The major extras belong to the four featurettes (which total almost an hours worth) and thankfully make up for the lack of any commentary tracks - "Close-Up With The Editor"; "Tonight On Leno (full version)"; "The Effects" and "Back At The Ranch - A Look Behind The Scenes".  These (aside from Jay Leno) mainly cover the technical aspects of the movie with some mandatory glimpses regarding drama and plot-points.  The featurette with Jay Leno is the entire edit of the movie's ad-libbed interviews with NASA's new (old?) 'Daedalus' team.

There is an extensive cast & crew biographies section which gives a good background on each of the major players involved and is of course not entirely complete considering their extensive resumes.  The theatrical trailer is also included.

Space Cowboys
Summary
I liked this movie, if only because it stars 3 of my favourite (older) actors in Hollywood (I won't say which fourth cast member doesn't come under my all-time Top 5, *cough* *clint* *cough*).  The comedic elements between these actors is on par with what you've seen in "Armageddon", but is more subtle and less in-your-face which works a lot better in my opinion.

Even though this movie takes place in the very fragile environment of space, you still have to leave your brain outside the outer hatch.  I'm sure the producers were hoping that you'd be so caught up in the danger the characters are facing to even consider the number of logical and scientific errors that are littered around like space junk - pretty much the case with "Armageddon".

(Oh by the way, please do not infer that there is any similarity in plot between this and the movie I just mentioned above - honestly!  I'm just talking about the comedy and the rocket-science flaws, really I am! :).


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