Review: Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

Cowboys and aliens battle in the appropriately named Cowboys and Aliens...

From the director of Iron Man comes a tale set in 1800’s Arizona territory that is, quite literally, about cowboys and aliens.

An unknown wakes in an unknown place not remembering his name, who he is or how he got there. To cap it off he finds himself wearing a weird high-tech bracelet on his wrist. While making his way to the local town, Absolution, we discover his name is Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) and he is an outlaw. With a bounty on his head he is soon thrown into the jail. However, he is the last of Absolution’s problems as strange alien ships start arriving and taking the townspeople. It seems that Lonergan has quite a few enemies from trying to steal gold in his past and one of those is the town’s main breadwinner, Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) a man who would like nothing more than to take care of Lonergan himself but it seems there is a larger plan at foot. After the attack, and with many people taken, the remaining residents that can ride and shoot accompany Lonergan and Dolarhyde on their quest to bring their kin back. One of those is the beautiful Ella (Olivia Wilde), who is mysterious and knows something that the others don’t and she’s hell bent on getting Lonergan to remember details of what happened to him.

Cowboys and Aliens is, in many ways, a good, old-fashioned western. However, it then has the science fiction aspect which, on paper, might seem crazy but, on screen, works surprisingly well. Much hype and excitement was created when it was discovered that Bond and Indiana Jones would appear in the same film but, to be honest, when you start watching the film, that doesn’t really impress you. You forget that element and just enjoy watching two action stars. The film starts slowly and doesn’t really pick up the pace for a while. The action gets there eventually and it is, if anything, the story that lets the film down even though it has a very basic principal that, no matter whether you’re man or alien, is easy to understand; it’s all about the gold. The concept is great and original but is it translated well to the screen?

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford do their best trying to out grim each other with their stern faces and broody looks. Their performances are of equal measure so there is no stand-out performance in the film. The effects are particularly worth mentioning as the aliens are a mix between Predator and Alien and quite frightening. The mix between the high-tech technology of the aliens and the very rural old West is delivered well on screen. It’s just a shame it is missing that magic.

Best performance: Both Craig and Harrison.
Best scene: The battle.
Best line: Meacham – ‘Don’t yank on it, it’s not your pecker’.
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