Aug 11

Review: Cowboys & Aliens

A stranger (Daniel Craig) wakes in the desert with no memories, an injury and a strange metal bracelet on his wrist. After an altercation with some potential bandits, the stranger heads to the nearest small town which turns out to be controlled by the rough cattle boss Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). The stranger is identified as Jake Lonergan, a thief who had stolen from Dolarhyde, and is arrested. Just as he is about to be taken away to the authorities, the aliens invade. At this point Lonergan and Dolarhyde have to join forces and lead a posse that includes the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) to defeat the aliens and get back the townspeople who were abducted in the raid.

When I first heard that Jon Favreau was going to direct an adaptation of the comic book “Cowboys & Aliens” by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg I was a little wary. I was not a fan of the original comic book, I felt it was very simplistic and I wasn’t sure how well it would adapt to the screen. However, I did have a lot of faith in Jon Favreau after his two outings with the “Iron Man” franchise and the trailers were looking good.

But, like “Green Lantern” before it, we’ve had to wait a few extra weeks for “Cowboys & Aliens” since its US debut. In this time, the reviews started pouring in. It wasn’t looking good. We were hearing things like; “The tone is all wrong”, “There’s no sense of fun.” and “The film didn’t know what it wanted to be.”

This was disappointing because over the last few months this film had become one of the most anticipated films of the year. I decided to keep an open mind, and just wait until I’d seen it myself. Thankfully, in my opinion, the critics were wrong. I’m not sure what film they saw, but I thoroughly enjoyed “Cowboys & Aliens”.

The premise here is simple, a small town is invaded by aliens. By placing the alien invasion in the Old West, you get the added intrigue that the people just don’t understand the technology or little green men. At one point one of the characters ponders to the preacher that they might be demons, a perfectly reasonable response from someone in that era.

This is genre blending done well, we have cowboys and we have aliens just like the title tells us. The film takes itself seriously as a Western and when the aliens do turn up, it doesn’t feel the need to go camp or cheesy. Instead, it plays it straight as if these events were really taking place. I’m not sure what other critics or audiences were expecting, but I got exactly what I paid for.

“Cowboys & Aliens” is highly recommended for anyone who just wants some escapist fare, and in many ways, a good old-fashioned western. This isn’t rocket science, this is just a rollicking good adventure film.

– David McVay

“Cowboys & Aliens” is directed by Jon Favreau, produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. It is based on the Platinum Studios comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. It stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Noah Ringer and Clancy Brown.

It will be released by Paramount Pictures Australia on August 18, 2011.

Make sure you check out our full review and analysis of “Cowboy & Aliens” on the August 20th episode of the Film Actually podcast.

  • Omimaewu

    wow this movie could have been great. to bad it sucked. even for a free movie it sucked.

  • Omimaewu

    *spoilers I quess*

    the first 15 or so minutes get your attention. then aliens show up and shoot bombs guided by spotlights? wtf. oh and then they lasso people and take them to a base that looks like a rock tower! but the rock tower is really a space ship? oh and the aliens that look and act like gorillas with t-rex arms in thier chests are appearantly dumb as rocks. oh and whats really funny is that bite thier victims! man I tell ya, i couldnt make this crap up. this movie fails so bad. the indians, oh yeah theres indians too. I would say take your kids they might like it.but lol when the movie was over, my 7 year old looks at me and says, dad this movie is trash! that about sums it up. save your money.

  • Feel free to voice your opinions but please try to keep it spoiler free for the sake of those that still want to see the film.