Review - Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens (2011), PG-13, 118 minutes - #5 on my Most Anticipated Films of 2011 list, Cowboys & Aliens is a Sci-Fi/Western mash-up directed by Jon Favreau that boasts a pretty hefty cast led by Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

The movie takes place in Arizona back in 1873, when Jake Lonergan (Craig) comes to out in the desert with no recollection of what came before. He works his way into town where he has a scuffle with Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), the arrogant, free-loading son of local tough guy prospector Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford). Both are tossed in prison and are set to get shipped out of town courtesy of the U.S. Marshalls. Just as the carriage is about to take them out of town, the elder Dolarhyde arrives looking for his son. Then all hell breaks loose: alien ships buzz the main drag of the western town, shooting lasers, blowing things up, and abducting people. It's at this time that a bracelet-like object on Lonergan's wrist comes to life. He realizes that it allows him to zero in on a target and fire. With his new-found weapon, Lonergan drives the alien ships off. With the help of Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), Doc (Sam Rockwell), Nat Colorado (Adam Beach), and Meacham (Clancy Brown), Lonergan and Dolarhyde set out to track the aliens in an effort to rescue those who were abducted. On the journey, Lonergan begins to remember who he was and what happened in his past while everyone learns that Ella isn't quite what she seems.

Despite being a sci-fi/western mash-up, Cowboys & Aliens doesn't really bring anything new to either genre. It actually manages to fit into stereotypical molds of both genres at different points throughout. If you don't like either genre, it's probably safe to say that you should steer clear. But if you do, or you like either Craig or Ford in particular, I think you'd be entertained. I was.


- I didn't think that Olivia Wilde's character being an alien herself really did much for the movie. It just seemed like a really convenient way to provide a character that knows more about the aliens than they should.

- Gold digging aliens does seem a little weird, but it gets a pass considering the time in which the film takes place. It's not as crazy as aliens from other films (i.e. water fearing aliens in Signs that chose to invade a planet covered in the stuff).

- I thought that the creature design for the aliens was unique.

- Noah Ringer is another face in the film that may look familiar to folks. He was also Aang in 2010's The Last Airbender.

- I did not have a chance to read the graphic novel that this was based upon before seeing the movie, but I am curious to read it to see how this compares.

- I still love the fact that they didn't try and get cute with the movie title. There's just something I like about it being blatantly straight forward. It's a movie about Cowboys & what else would you call it!?


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