‘A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.
The title of this movie alone was enough to make we want to see it, which I suppose is the main reason that the studio chose it. And when you have a cast of actors including Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, and Clancy Brown then the movie sounds a lot more interesting.
Cowboys and Aliens was a fun movie, but I felt that I should have enjoyed it more than I did. I left the picture thinking that there had been something missing from the film that could have made it much better, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. There wasn’t any one glaring flaw with the film; rather it was a series of little problems that left me a little unsatisfied at the end.
The actors all put in great performances, especially Daniel Craig as the dangerous cowboy Jake Lonergan. Craig really imbues this character with a fantastic sense of menace and potential violence; Jake is not a guy that you want to mess with. Harrison Ford also does a great turn as Colonel Dolarhyde, but I felt that he was a little underused here. The development that his character had was great, but it felt like we missed out on a large part of his story leaving the conclusion of his arc feeling a little odd.
Also underused was Olivia Wilde, who seems to be in the movie merely to add a hot female character to the story that can point the men in the right direction. She has some cool moments, but ultimately her story feels unsatisfying. Wilde is a talented actress, and I hope that she can get a great leading role in future rather than repeatedly playing the love interest.
The supporting performances from Sam Rockwell and Clancy Brown add a lot to the film, and each character seems to be reasonably well-developed in their own right. If anything, the early stages of the movie had the problem of throwing too many interesting characters at the audience, which muddied the waters a bit. But as with any good alien movie, the population is quickly culled down to manageable numbers.
Jon Favreau has repeatedly shown his skill at directing effects heavy films, and Cowboys and Aliens is no exception. The alien technology feels believable, and doesn’t clash too much with the low-tech western setting. The wonderful scenery that the story plays out on adds a lot to the film, and Favreau uses it well.
One problem that was particularly apparent was the movie often seemed to take itself too seriously. I’m glad that it was made as a serious movie rather than the wacky comedy that the title might imply, but a film of this type needs to acknowledge the silliness of its premise from time to time or it can come off as pretentious. There is some good dry humour in the movie coming from twists on Western staples, but it’s too few and far between.
Overall, I liked the movie, but it’s not something that I would rush out to see again. I would happily watch Cowboys and Aliens if somebody suggested it, but it wasn’t so memorable that I would decide to watch it on my own. If you’re looking for a western that’s a little bit different, then it’s worth checking out.
What I Liked – Daniel Craig was great as Jake Lonergan. Cool effects, fun twist on a classic genre.
What I Didn’t Like – Seemed to take itself a little too seriously at times. Ending felt a little unsatisfying. Didn’t use Ford and Wilde enough.
Rating – 3.5 out of 5 (Enjoyable)