Connect with us

Film News

Review: Cowboys & Aliens

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 118 mins

Synopsis: Daniel Craig wakes up in the middle of a desert. He has no idea who he is or indeed where he is or how he got there. All he knows is that he’s in a bit of trouble with a gang of hoodlums around him, and that he has a weird looking device attached to his left arm. After ‘disposing’ of the gang, Craig, or should I say his character Jake Lonergan, wanders into town, a town that he seemingly does not know, with inhabitants that certainly don’t know him.  Minutes after a heated bar fight with the local law in true western fashion, a mysterious space craft crash lands and Lonergan must team with iron-fisted Woodrow Dollarhyde (Ford) to fight the apparent aliens off and discover why they have arrived with the intent to take over the world.

Okay, so over the past few months our multiplexes have been over run with aliens.  Just this month we had JJ Abrams’ SUPER 8. We also had weird superhero aliens in GREEN LANTERN a couple of months back and even low-budget aliens in the British fare ATTACK THE BLOCK back in May. So, why not take an all together popular genre and mix it up with an equally popular genre, like the western. Then, let’s call it COWBOYS & ALIENS. Okay, so I know that this movie is based very loosely on an existing comic book of the same name. Upon embarking on a little research it is apparent that this movie has very little in common with the 2006 Platinum Comics source material other than its ‘fun’ title.  The comic has a completely different plot to the movie, which give, is no bad thing at all. In fact, the opening twenty minutes showed early promise. Up until the aliens’ arrival, the film had a very authentic western feel to it, and I was actually enjoying the proceedings. Craig fits into the role of the ‘man with no name’ and even sports a pretty good accent. Very convincing. The arrival of Harrison Ford’s mean old bastard Col. Dolarhyde also provides excellent support, and apparent damsel-in-distress Olivia Wilde turns out to be slightly more hardened than we first thought, and as always is solid in the first of her many film outings in the latter part of 2011 (see her in the upcoming THE CHANGE-UP and the Justin Timberlake action vehicle IN TIME). Then, the aliens come and everything changes.

What starts out as a straight western turns into a genre busting action-sci-fi movie, and with it starts all of the fun. Right? Yeah… right. The film that pops into mind when thinking of others that combine two genres is FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN all of those years ago, the Robert Rodriguez directed and Quentin Tarantino scripted and starring action movie turned horror movie. The difference between that movie and COWBOYS & ALIENS is vast of course, but a major difference is the issue when the genres mix. The problem with ‘Cowboys’ is that there is no tonal shift when the genre mixes, and with a title like that we should have the wildest, most fun, weirdest and totally ridiculous ride of our summer cinema-going lives. What? Cowboys and aliens mixing in one film? Crazy! But, it’s not. It’s all played straight, totally straight, all of the way through, and this is its biggest downfall.

That’s not to say that it is a bad movie. In fact it is far from that. The action scenes are well choreographed, the special effects spot on and there is a stunning support cast from the likes of Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine and Walton Goggins (quite a stand out). Harrison Ford is the old, unlikeable rogue that turns out to be the complete opposite, and some of those one-liners are 100% Indy coming right at ya! In fact there is an awesome stunt performed by Daniel Craig that is a direct nod to the one in Raiders when Indy jumps from a horse onto a tank. Great stuff.

I suppose that yes, the  film genuinely entertained me, but it could have been a whole lot better, and I feel that there was possibly a lot more to be made of it, so in some respects I was a little let down, but if you want to while away a couple of hours, be entertained by one of the most A-list heavy movies of the summer and and indeed one of the last true blockbusters of the year, you won’t go too far wrong.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Latest Posts


More in Film News