August 1, 2011
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford
Release Date: July 29, 2011
James Bond and Indiana Jones vs. the Saucer Men from Mars
I’ll admit it: I was ridiculously giddy when I first saw the teaser for Cowboys & Aliens. I mean, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell and an insane genre mash-up? What is there not to love? Seriously?
Then the reviews began trickling in after the film’s recent Comic Con premier. Most critics have lambasted the picture as being much too predictable, dull, or some synonym thereof. While I don’t disagree that it pulls any unforeseeable punches, I do think the movie is a fun experiment that could have been much, much worse.
Is it a western? Is it a piece of science fiction? The answer, of course, is that it’s both. Cowboys & Aliens straddles an extraordinarily fine line that sees it succeed on many levels, but there are certainly times where the logic of the whole thing is a little headache-inducing. It’s surprisingly preachy from time to time, too. I mean, when you have a finale that sees Native Americans, cowboys, stage-coach mercenaries and the like joining forces it looks an awful lot like Independence Day (or any other “we’ve got bigger fish to fry” extra-terrestrial invasion flicks).
For my money, the film is perfectly cast. Ford is great as the grizzled Civil War vet who’s hanging on to just a sliver of humanity, and Craig is…well… his usual James-Bondish self (okay, so maybe he’s not quite so debonair here, but you get the point). The ladies like him, he’s an efficient killing machine, so on and so forth.
The aliens themselves are slickly designed too, and they possess a noticeably menacing presence when they’re tackling outlaws on horseback and using goo-covered mandibles to toy with their prey.
Again, Cowboys & Aliens is a lot of fun, but it’s not going to set the world on fire. On the most basic level, it exists purely as a love letter to sci-fi fans who love ridiculously outrageous genre benders.
out of 5