Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Steve Oedekerk
Based On: “Cowboys & Aliens” (Graphic Novel) By: Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 118 minutes
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Western
USA Release: 7/29/2011
On DVD (USA): 12/6/2011
Like most people, I too had “Cowboys & Aliens” on my must see list of 2011 Summer Flicks. As the trailer makes it out, it is suppose to be this like high octane western with aliens, I mean who wouldn’t want to see that. But what we are left with is a some times thrilling, sometimes very slow pace movie, that by the end you’ll be wondering what happened and did I just waste my money?
Based on the graphic novel of the same name, “Cowboys & Aliens” follows a nameless outsider (Daniel Craig) who wakes up in the desert wounded, with a strange metal shackle on his wrist and no memory of anything. Soon he wonders into the small town of Absolution, where he meets the local preacher (Clancy Brown) who helps fix his wound. Suddenly a commotion starts outside as Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) starts terrorizing the locals. And after the nameless man takes care of Percy, the Sheriff (Keith Carradine) recognizes him as Jake Lonergan, a wanted outlaw and soon attempts to arrest him. But as Jake is about to escape a woman named Ella (Olivia Wilde) knocks him out. Later after finding out that his son Percy was in jail, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) arrives to demand that his son be released into his custody as well as Jake. After the Sheriff refuses, a stand off begins, but as things are about to start the town is suddenly attacked by alien spaceships and soon the Sheriff, Percy and other locals are kidnapped. While the town is being attacked Jake’s mysterious bracelet begins to make noises and light up, and soon shoots down one of the ships. After finding tracks that where left by an alien, some of the locals decide that they should follow at first light and track down whatever just took their kin.
OK I’m just going to come right out and say it… this movie pretty much sucked. To further explain myself, most of the problem lies with the directing and writing. Now I’m not saying that the movie was a total bust but what I found to be the biggest problem was that it never balanced out. Throughout the movie we jump back and forth between being just a western or just being sci-fi, it seemed like they couldn’t make up their mind what they wanted it to be. Same can sometimes be said for the cinematography that attempted to bring cool and unusual color palates at the strangest times and then have them disappear a second later, never to be seen again, almost making this seem like just a rough cut they were just testing, but unfortunately that was not the case. Back to the writing for a minute, all I can say is the idea was there but somewhere between writing the script and shooting it, something got lost, leaving it not only unbalanced but frightfully slow. Onto the supporting cast, although there are only a few, they all did a great job and had their own moments to shine throughout the movie. They along with the main cast kept the action sequences nice and quite fun. Olivia Wilde, I feel is growing as an action actress, although I have only seen her in one other film role (“TRON: Legacy”) and of course on “House”, so I am a bit new to her work. But playing her character who is as mysterious as Jake is and is hiding something that may be about her past, Wilde does a great job and does really well with the action sequences and fights. As not only a seasoned actor but mega action star Harrison Ford, delivers a great performance as the typical landowner who thinks he runs the town and therefore is above the law. Unlike last year’s “Morning Glory”, Ford seems to feel more comfortable staying in the genre that made him famous, I mean once and action hero always an action hero. Now we can’t forget our star Daniel Craig, although he does well with action and saving the day, 007 just can’t do westerns. Throughout the movie, he seemed to be as phony as his accent, as he mimicked not only his voice but his persona after stars of great old westerns from back in the day. Although his character is mysterious, which is something Craig can play well, he just isn’t a good fit for this movie.
Overall, “Cowboys & Aliens” is a unbalanced and slow piece of work. What kept it a float for me was the action and the performances by the cast, although not everyone will agree with me. The movie is one of those that you either like it or you hate it, and most seem to be going for the latter. So if you are interested in seeing “Cowboys & Aliens” I say save your money and rent it when it comes to DVD.