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Cowboys and Aliens Review

RELEASED: 17 August 2011

A 2011 summer of Blockbusters (Super 8 and Captain America to name a couple) is unfortunately let down by the laser slinging, Sci-Fi Western, Cowboys and Aliens. Definitely a bit of a shock considering the action heavyweights behind the operation: director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and producers Ron Howard (The Da Vinci Code) and Steven Spielberg.

Cowboys and Aliens suffers a major identity crisis bordering on the schizophrenic, at once wanting to be romantic, then desiring a place in the kick ass hall of fame with its action, but ultimately achieving neither.

It’s not that the film’s action sequences are poorly constructed. On the contrary, the contests between spaceship and horse, rifle and lasers, are always interesting creating some explosive moments. Jake Lonergan’s (Daniel Craig) bracelet weapon is a swish gadget and is used to perfection swatting down the flying drones with ease. The problem with the action is that it becomes too repetitive. There are only so many times you can watch an alien air strike in the Wild West before is becomes predictable.

And then Cowboys and Aliens tries to do the whole romance thing in the form of dazzling girl from “beyond the stars”, Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde). Are her and Lonergan in love? Are they not? Is she even human? These questions taint an already underdeveloped love plot and despite a kiss between the two out of the blue, the relationship feels incomplete.

No matter how ridiculous the title may seem, the concept of Cowboys and Aliens is, to put it simply, cool. Think lovechild of Dirty Harry and District 9. But a cool concept isn’t enough, especially when the plot itself loses the plot. Aliens come to the Wild West. Fine. They look like giant cockroaches crossed with Transformer qualities. Who are we to judge? But to come to merely obtain some gold, with no real explanation of apocalyptic intention, is just plain stupid. But I guess the recession is affecting everyone, regardless off intergalactic origin. Combine this with plot holes as big as moon craters, and Cowboys and Aliens is floating somewhere in space with no solid grounding.

The saving graces of the film are the two cowboys Lonergan and Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Both are rough and rugged with a heart of steel, or so it seems, because past the tough exterior lies some wonderful emotional moments from the pair. Ford tells the tale of his troubled childhood and his moment of weakness, and Craig exposes his longing for his girlfriend who was abducted by the aliens. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Daniel Craig film without him exposing his torso, which he does, generously.

Craig and Ford work well as separate entities, but when they come together in Cowboys and Aliens, the pairing is spot on. It is a battle of two massive egos forced to work together, which leads to some of the few, but very welcome light hearted moments. A chance for a little laugh, then back to blowing stuff up.

An exciting and fresh idea, Cowboys and Aliens has a little something to offer in the way of entertainment, but with some more thought and tact, the film could have been up there as one of the major players of the 2011 summer movie scene.


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Future Flicks: Cowboys and Aliens

The Wild West is about to get wilder as Cowboys and Aliens is set to touch down on the big screen next month. Iron Man director Jon Favreau serves up this Western/sci-fi combo with an extra helping of explosive visual effects.

007 Daniel Craig teams up with Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford in the new blockbuster. Jake Lonergan (Craig) awakens in the dusty and desolate town of Absolution with no recollection of how he got there. A wanted man (as Craig so often is), he finds himself hotly pursued by Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford), but when the invading aliens arrive, they must put their feud aside to protect the town.

Producer Ron Howard loves the concept of the film claiming it to be “the coolest version of the West, meeting some badass aliens.”

He continues: “It’s cool to see characters who would have been shooting at one another a few days before, are suddenly forced to try and survive together.”

Director Favreau comments: “People are really thirsting for something new. You got to go bigger and better. We want to do something that exceeds the expectations of the audience, and say, ‘this is what we’re planning folks. Get ready!’”

Indeed we must brace ourselves for what looks like a very interesting and entertaining concept, with some intense cinematography and special effects. Topped off with two iconic and highly charged actors in Craig and Ford, Cowboys and Aliens looks set to be a summer hit.

Cowboys and Aliens is scheduled for release in the US on 29 July and 19 August in the UK.

Below is the trailer:

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