Cowboys And Aliens (2011) — Cool concept, a fun adventure, 7/10.
This western / sci-fi mash-up directed by Jon Favreau was released nationwide on July 29th, and ending up grossing just slightly more than it’s $163 million dollar budget. Daniel Craig stars as an outlaw who wanders into the 1873 town of Absolution with substantial amnesia, and a weird alien device strapped to his wrist. When the owners of his alien-wrist gun show up to the small western town and start abducting the townsfolk for experimentation, the outlaw teams up with Harrison Ford, who plays the local wealthy rancher to track down the mysterious “demons” from the sky, and find their missing friends and family. -CLIP- The first half of this film is a breath of fresh air: an exciting and captivating blend of western elements mixed seamlessly with the sci-fi genre. Witnessing an alien attack from the perspective of characters who barely understand the concept of outer-space is a novel concept, and one I wish was examined further – instead these ideas and themes are pushed aside to make room for loud and explosive action scenes later in the film. Visually speaking, Cowboy’s And Aliens is a true delight – the visual effects are imaginative, detailed, and thrilling. Cinematically, Favreau films nearly every scene with beautiful landscape shots of the old west, so beautiful you could stick them right on a post-card. Although the plot descends into a typical Hollywood-action film in the 3rd act, the plot is an original one, not a reboot, remake, or sequel – and given that it’s able to quite aptly hold your attention, such a feat is very commendable, especially so considering the film had five separate screenwriters. There are familiar elements of course – to the lone outlaw who has to put his differences aside and befriend his enemies so they may achieve a common goal… and scenes inside the alien spaceship feel like a many episodes of Star Trek that have come before. Rounding out the cast is up-and-comer Oliva Wilde, who, despite being incredibly easy on the eyes mostly just recites her with little personality, as if trying to get the project over with. Craig and Ford’s individual personas are almost too big to share the screen together, and it was great to see them both wearing cowboy hats, riding hats, and shooting revolvers… but neither one gives a particularly impressive performance, but given the genre, Academy nominations aren’t expected either. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Harrison Ford fan… but I can’t help but notice that with his increasing age, he just seems to be getting angrier and angrier – reduced to a type-cast that does nothing more than ask him to constantly scream at his co-stars. Being a silver-screen legend though, he pulls off the screen very well, even if it caused me to crack an unintended smile or two. If you’re in the mood for a classic summer blockbuster with chase-scenes, pretty ladies, cool special effects, and some awesome locations – Cowboys And Aliens doesn’t disappoint – it’s the definition of a classic “popcorn movie”, and when taken with a grain of salt, it’s an immensely enjoyable motion picture, “Cool concept, a fun adventure”.