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Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens

Title: Cowboys & Aliens

Director: Jon Favreau

Producer: Brian Grazer and Ron Howard

Genre: Action, Science Fiction

Distributor: Universal Studios

Series: N/A

Release Date: July 29, 2011

Format: Standard

Runtime: 118 Minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Starring: Daniel Craig , Olivia Wilde , Harrison Ford , Sam Rockwell , and Paul Dano

Synopsis (Product Description):

1875. New Mexico Territory. A stranger (Daniel Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents–townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors–all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

The Review:

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford lead the cast of this science fiction western action epic and despite the crazy mixing of film genres, it’s a good movie. Daniel Craig established himself as one of the most dynamic action stars of this decade when he was cast as the new James Bond in Casino Royale. Craig brought a unique, rougher edge and dynamism to the Bond role and carries that edginess over to his role as Jake Lonergan. Lonergan is an amnesiac anti-hero trying to solve the mystery of his lost memory as well as get to the bottom of the strange device attached to his wrist. Harrison Ford, despite being well into his sixties, still kicks butt as Woodrow Dolarhyde, Civil War veteran turned ornery cattle rancher. Ford’s performance is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s performance in The Unforgiven. That’s to say Dolarhyde has lost a few steps over the years, but has fought many more battles than the younger Jake Lonergan played by Craig. Dolarhyde has his share of character flaws, and apparently so does Lonergan. Craig shares the spotlight quite well with Ford, who is a legendary Hollywood action star.

Cowboys & Aliens‘ plot is summed up by its title. As I try and put into writing why cowboys are fighting aliens the silliness of it all becomes apparent, but more is the fool anyone going to a movie with the words cowboys and aliens in the title expecting the next Memento. The cliff notes, and spoiler free version is that a hostile alien race is kidnapping humans ahead of their planned, full scaled invasion of earth. The aliens possess vastly superior technology to the barely industrialized Americans of the latter half of the nineteenth century. This simple set up sets the stage for some great action and a few nice plot twists. The movie never gets too bogged down in character development. We get just enough of Jake Lonergan’s past via flash back’s so that we can see his character’s evolution from anti-hero to plain hero. Lonergan’s moral development is highlighted by the inclusion of the town preacher played by Clancy Brown, who makes clear early on that he’s “seen good men do bad things and bad men do good things.”

By film’s end, you’ll be treated to every type of action scene except a car chase. It threatens at times to be a bit much for any other movie without cowboys and aliens in the title. It’s perfect summer movie fodder. It’s great fun, with an uncomplicated plot, but simplicity works in its favor and it’s greatly helped by the fact that it boasts two incredible talents in Craig and Ford. Recommended for anyone who wants to tune out and just enjoy a great action movie with a unique, if somewhat offbeat premise — basically those of us who think a western would benefit from the presence of hostile extraterrestrials. In other words, those amongst us who like a little Cowboys with their aliens, or is that aliens with their cowboys? You get the idea.

FTC Advisory: We purchased our own tickets.

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Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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3 Responses to “Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens

  1. Heather McCorkleNo Gravatar
    1

    I’ve been looking forward to this one, but admittedly, with a bit of trepidation. It sounds like a lot of fun and I’m glad to hear you liked it. Now that I know what to expect a little more I think I’ll really enjoy it. Thanks for the review!

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  2. LindseyNo Gravatar
    2

    Great review! I saw Cowboys & Aliens this weekend too. I really enjoyed it! I often had to remind myself not to overthink the logic of the story…but that’s okay. Going in, I expected lots of action, a silly but fun plot, and a gorgeous Daniel Craig. Satisfied on all counts. This was indeed an excellent summer movie.

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  3. Virna DePaulNo Gravatar
    3

    I saw this last night. I agree it was fun. The romance writer in me wasn’t completely satisfied, but I thought DC and HF did well. I really love Daniel Craig as James Bond. He is such a rugged, edgier character! Great review! V

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