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"Cowboys & Aliens" is a 2011 sci-fi film which was directed by Jon Favreau, who has also directed such films as "Elf" (2003), "Iron Man" (2008), and "Secret Cabinet" (2013).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 119 minutes in length and stars Daniel Craig ("Skyfall", "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", "Layer Cake") as Jake Lonergan, Harrison Ford ("Star Wars", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Blade Runner") as Woodrow Dolarhyde, and Olivia Wilde ("In Time", "The Change-Up", "House") as Ella Swanson.
The plot for the film reads as follows: 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.
What happens when you put the Wild West and outer space together? You get "Cowboys & Aliens", a film which also pits James Bond against Han Solo in a move that attempted to put the viewer at ease by saying it was not a comedy film. It is thought that the tough guy imagery of the two actors was designed to quell that aspect and make it a serious action film. The production company brought in Jon Favreau to direct, following his success with "Iron Man" and its sequel. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The film starts out with a long shot of Wild West plains, which pans right. Daniel Craig's character, Jake Lonergan, wakes up with a stomach wound and a strange device on his arm, which he attempts to break free of with a rock. In the background, a trio of old cowboys ride up behind him and set upon telling him that it is not his lucky day. Lonergan dispatches of the three and takes the clothes of one of them before riding off on a commissioned horse. Fortunately he did not say "I'll be back", a la Arnie Schwarzenegger's "Terminator" style.
I did enjoy one scene where an alien attack ensues, and the people of the Wild West are trying to attack the UFOs with revolvers. If it ever would have happened for real, it is unlikely they would have known what to do, just as we don't in this day and age. Shooting at an alien craft may well have been their only idea of attack, as fruitless as it may have been. There is some excellent CGI as the scene takes place, and the UFOs look really good as they roll in for wave after wave of attack. There is a little bit of a comedy moment as the humans attempt to figure out what just happened, but I will leave that for you to watch for yourselves.
There are plenty of action scenes throughout the film, and I suppose this is what a new generation of cinema goers are looking for these days. The drama film almost always wins the Academy Award for Best Picture, but the younger film watcher craves violent scenes with gunfire and death, because they've grown used to it by playing video games which depict war and the use of numerous military weapons. The same generation has also seen an action film with a story turn into one that is more dependent on fighting.
The one dilemma I had with the film is I could not decide whether it should have been a sci-fi film or a western film. I had a hard time trying to figure out whether the cowboys were making a perfectly good alien film bad or whether the aliens were taking a step too far with a cowboy film. I had the same problem with "Freddy vs Jason" and "Alien vs Predator". These crossover films really don't seem to work, and that's probably because of the often-said adage; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The majority of people that like westerns are not going to be sci-fi fans, so it would be safe to assume most sci-fi fans will not like the genre of the western. Of course, that is not set in stone, but one can surmise that it is probable.
I did find the run-up to the ending a little predictable, and even went as far as correctly guessing what would happen at the very end of the film. It was a huge disappointment when the last five minutes rolled around and I was absolutely correct. I like to be challenged when I am watching a film, but there was too much in those last few minutes which made me groan, and I always feel that is a little bit of a disappointment.
I must admit I was expecting Daniel Craig's character to take on some traits of James Bond, and while he is all-action, he holds an American accent that he is able to pull off. Some British actors can do that - Hugh Laurie did with Gregory House - but some definitely cannot. Having said that, it is the same reversed. Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp both are adept at speaking in an English accent. Speaking of the former, he was originally given Daniel Craig's role but eventually turned it down. Harrison Ford was almost 70 when he made this film, and it is pretty obvious that he is no spring chicken anymore and can't do the moves that Han Solo once did, but his pedigree as an actor is still there for all to see. His portrayal of Woodrow Dolarhyde is one of steel and determination but it is difficult to take him seriously, knowing that he was once the all-action hero in "Indiana Jones".âEurof
"Cowboys & Aliens" tries to be a serious film but it is hard to take it seriously because of what is involved. Aliens may exist but for now there is no concrete evidence that they do. This is why I had a hard time trying to like the film, just as I struggled to enjoy the 2009 film, "District 9". Of course, a sci-fi film about aliens can be great - you only have to look at the "Allien" quadrilogy to see that - but a different take on things when we actually go back in time to see the effects is something I can't quite grasp. For this reason I had to watch the film in two parts, or I may never have finished it. So yes, I was a little disappointed with the film, and I feel it was a waste of my time. Some people out there will love it. Personally, I think it is one that, in time, Daniel Craig will reflect on as something he should never have agreed to. The only good thing was the Blu-ray features. I always enjoy seeing how a film was made, and even though this was bad I still went ahead and watched it, though I did not play around with the pocket BLU app. Maybe next time and definitely on another film which isn't as bad as this one!
What the Critics Say
Empire: "A simple entertainment in a summer of overcomplicated disappointments. Also much harder-edged than you may have expected."
Arizona Republic: "Exactly what it sounds like: a cowboy movie and an alien movie thrown together, a genre mash-up that's more fun than good, but pretty good nonetheless."
Time: "Gradually, the movie sinks into ordinariness, serving up too many Spielbergian reaction shots of each cast member gawking or gulping at an alien encounter, and too many moral lessons that must be learned or taught."
Boxoffice Magazine: "It's easy to like the cast - thanks as much to their previous work as anything on screen here - but with such a convoluted, illogical and dull story, no one fares particularly well."
Los Angeles Times: "A leaden mash-up of western and science-fiction elements that ends up noisy, grotesque and unappealing."
My rating: 4/10
Star - Daniel Craig
Genre - Western/Sci-Fi
Run Time - 119minutes
Country - USA
Blockbuster Rental- £1.49 per night
Amazon -£4.00 DVD (£8.00 Blue Ray)
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So what do you do to avoid the near fatal stereotype from playing 007? Why a very silly Sci-Fi film for a big cheque, of course, Cowboys v Aliens certainly that. I like Daniel Craig and he has that sexy rough working-class presence we haven't seen from an A-List British actor for a while on screen and so if he wants to let his hair down and play a macho comic book cowboy then so be it. What actor doesn't want to be cowboy and tip the hat to the camera?
That comic book crowd was not happy with this though as the film backed off from being the graphic novel it was cut from and ended up as the Unforgiven meets Alien, a right old romp in the desert as flying saucers and laser guns do battle with six shooters and Stetsons.
Daniel Craig ... Jake Lonergan
Abigail Spencer ... Alice
Buck Taylor ... Wes Claiborne
Harrison Ford ... Woodrow Dolarhyde
Matthew Taylor... Luke Claiborne
Cooper Taylor ... Mose Claiborne
Clancy Brown ... Meacham
Paul Dano ... Percy Dolarhyde
Chris Browning ... Jed Parker
Adam Beach ... Nat Colorado
Sam Rockwell ... Doc
Ana de la Reguera ... Maria
Noah Ringer ... Emmett Taggart
Brian Duffy ... Deputy
Olivia Wilde ... Ella Swenson
Keith Carradine ... Sheriff John Taggart
A man lies dazed and confused in the baking desert with a strange metal device clamped to his wrist, only tumble weeds stopping to look. That man is Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), a feared and wanted gunslinger from out West. After getting his bearings and seeing off some bad guys dressed in black with a bad case of stubble he pitches up at the nearest town, soon intervening in a local dispute, earning him a night in the slammer, which reveals his identity to the local Sherriff (Keith Carradine), who immediately packs him off to Santa Fe for previous misdemeanors to face the judge. There he will be joined in the paddy wagon by Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) for winging a deputy in a drunken rant, Percy the son of cattle rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), who seems to run the town, as they always do.
But things are about to take a turn for the strange, and certainly the worse, when the town is attacked by UFOs, scooping people up with a chain contraption and flinging them through the air to take back to their base for some unhealthy probing. Its time for all concerned to pool together, Lonergan managing to take out one of the ships as the device on his wrist is a weapon clearly engineered by the aliens. But how did it come to be on his wrist and how on earth can they defeat a conquering alien race in the middle of Arizona in 1872? Its time to saddle up a posse and head into the desert to bring back their loved ones, a battle they can't afford to lose.
I don't think too many people are going to shuffle into the cinema or rent this at Blockbusters and expect Citizen Cane. This delivers exactly what is says on the tin. Clearly the film is driven more by its concept than by its plot but what's wrong with that? Well rather a lot, it seems, judging by that comic book crowd I was talking about that ran a mile from it, Cowboys & Aliens only just breaking even with its ambitious $163 million budget, returning $174 million dollars to date, its only claim to fame becoming the 500TH film to gross $100 million dollars in the US since Jaws broke that fabled mark (and the Sound of Music if you go by back figures) back in the 1970s.
If you can get past the shameless set-up, its good fun although it could have been so much better, mine and the critic's general consensus, especially as Iron Man director John Favreau is at the helm. The problem is its neither sci-fi, comic book or comedy and once Harrison Ford shows up with his grin and fedora it's very much the later. Harrison was asked to go bald for the role to add more threat and nasty authenticity as the villain but refused and so ended up sending up previous roles and becoming the hero alongside Craig, his obvious intention.
Saying that it raced along with flashes ad bangs and what you would expect from a concept movie. It could have done with a bit more of the Favreau magic what made Iron Man so good but enough fresh scene sin it to justify the rent. Maybe Craig and Ford weren't quite right for the lead and so the film ended up a vehicle for them but they are actors that light up the screen.
It's a good fun action movie suitable for most ages with some perfunctory special effects and suitably scary aliens. Throw in all the Western clichés you can think of and more Harrison Ford smirks and a fun two hour family film had by all. But don't expect Sin City.
- Audio Commentary -
Director John Favreau talks over his movie with a writer and producer..
- Find the Story-
Favreau talks about the making of the film and the concept behind it.
-The Scope of the Spectacle -
More of the same with a look at the special effects and costumes.
Imdb.com - 6.0/10.0 (128,067votes)
Metacrtic.com - 50% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 44% critic's approval
Bangitout.com - 'While we were hoping and rightly expecting some old school magic from the director of Iron Man, the director of Iron Man 2 showed up'
SFX Magazine -'we get a standard story, some decent set pieces and only a few funny lines...Take the ride, but don't blame us if you end up saddle sore'.
Daily Telegraph -'Favreau ... allows the material's imaginative possibilities to flare up and fade away'.
Film4 -'The cowboys: great. The aliens: not so much. There's fun to be had here, but it falls way short of the pulp classic it could have been'.
Guardian -'Yes, yes, cowboys punching aliens in the face can be funny - can it?
The Miami Herald -'Expensive, a misfire, but perfectly serviceable for what it is'
Screen Rant -'The two marquee stars don't interact much, the "big" action pieces are fairly ho-hum, and the movie just cowpokes along when it seems like it should be having a lot more galloping fun.
The Baltimore Sun -Patchy, if enjoyable in parts, but nowhere near as awesome as that title suggests it should be'.
The Movie Report -'Rather refreshingly what-you-see-is-exactly-what-you-get: a western with aliens grafted on, or a sci-fi invasion film with cowboys grafted on--nothing more, nothing less'.
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Out in the wild west Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakes to find himself with no recollection of anything that has happened, or even his name, with some sort of mechanical object attached to his wrist. While coming round to nothingness he is attacked by a bunch of cowboys, who he easily takes out, stripping them of their clothes and weapons. After finding the local town's barman being hassled by a gun wielding drunk Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), Jake quickly diffuses the situation after Percy looses his cool and accidentally shoots a local, getting arrested by the sheriff. After going for a drink, Jake soon finds himself under arrest by the sheriff and his men, as he is apparently a known criminal. After a brief skirmish with the men Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) smashes a bottle over his head, ending the fight with Jake being thrown in a cell next to Percy. A while later, Percy's dad, Woodrow (Harrison Ford) and his band of cowboys storm the town, wanting the release of Percy. As the sheriff and Woodrow take place in a tense standoff, a strange thing happens...
As both men prepare for gunfire in the dead of night, strange lights appear in the distance and start moving with speed towards the town. Suddenly lasers shoot from the apparent flying objects as they speed over, and as the town comes under attack by spacecrafts, all seems doomed. Jake is stunned when the object on his wrist starts to light up, and as he aims it towards an oncoming craft a huge beam shoots from his wrist and hits the UFO, sending it crashing into the ground and causing the other craft to fly off. as the townsfolk come out again a huge creature jumps from the crashed ship and runs into a house, attacking two locals. It then dashes off into the night, bleeding heavily. As Woodrow takes in the situation, they forget all about the skirmish beforehand and after an argument with Jake they head out to track the beast down, taking Ella and some of Woodrow's men. This is where the story begins.
I'll try not to ruin the story but give a brief outline. As they search for the monster, Jake starts to remember details from his past and learns more about the device on his wrist. As the story progresses we meet Jake's old gang whom he betrayed, a random dog (honestly don't know what the dogs purpose is), and they are attacked by more aliens, with Jake blowing them to smithereens. Apache's kidnap the posse, Jake's memory is restored and the true identity of Ella is revealed. Towards the end, Apache's and cowboys unite against the aliens (or demons so they think) and an epic battle gets underway as a fight for their lives is played out until the end.
Personally I think this is a great film to say the least, the characters are portrayed well and the action is amazing, with brilliant special effects. But the story is very confusing and there is WAY too much, and it seems as if bits have just been added in after (such as the random dog that plays no significance in Jake's past or present). Also sadly although i do like this film and thought it was good I did start to switch off towards the end as it did bore me a little, and that really is disappointing because the film is generally speaking good. Because of this I will give it three stars. I would recommend watching it, but only if you have spare time lying arround.
Genre: Science Fiction
Director: Jon Favreau
Length: 118 minutes
Starring Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Set in Arizona USA in the 19th century Jake Lonergan wakes up in the middle of nowhere with a strange bracelet. He is immediately set upon by some cowboys whom he overcomes and takes their clothes and weapons. The first part of the film focuses on the "Cowboy" side of things and we find out more about our hero Jake Lonergan. Unfortunately Jake is quickly found out to be an outlaw by the local sherriff (Keith Carradine) after getting into some trouble with a local troublemaker Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano). Jake deals with Percy but needs to escape the Posse the sheriff sends to capture him. He almost escapes but enter Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) who knocks him unconcious whilst he is fighting the sherriff and his men.
Enter the aliens..... Percy is arrested by the sherriff and his father Woodrow (Harrison Ford) comes to town demanding his release as well as Jake on account of him stealing from him. Whilst a standoff between Woodrow and the sherriff is taking place an alien ship attacks the town but crashes. One of its crew escapes (an alien) and runs off.
Jake, Woodrow and Ella head out with some men to track it down. We learn more about Jakes past as well as where the bracelet comes from via some flashbacks to his abduction with another woman (Alice).
The Posse are attacked by Jake's former gang due to Jake having stolen thier gold and Jake attempts to regain leadership. The aliens unfortunately interrupt the reunion and attack the group and ends up crashing their ship killing one of the main characters (you'll have to watch to find out who!).
After the crash Apache indians get involved and capture everyone. An interesting twist resurrects our dead main character and the truth about their identity is revealed. Alot of action follows with plenty of guns blazing and destruction. We find otu more about Jake's past as the story progresses also.
As the film nears its conclusion it the main plot twist surfaces which causes much anguish to our main character. A final battle ensues (as expected) with the Cowboys and Indians facing off against the much more powerful aliens.
I really found the film quite odd...to say the least. Good action but flimsy story. Not sure I really enjoyed it but I suppose it was ok. The effects are good and the action is good. Acting I would say is fine also. All in all a bit of a .....meh....movie. I liked Jake's character and the way Daniel Craig plays a hard man is always good.
Not really much more I can say about it and I guess that is a reflection of the film....
Can't say I would recommend it to anyone but if you have a spare 118 minutes give it a shot. You may like it better than I did.
People like the Iron Man films because they're funny. Sure, they enjoy the action and maybe even the romance, but the reason those films take such huge box office is their humour. Tony Stark is the master of the witty one liner, giving cinemagoers the experience they've been craving since the Bond films decided they had to be 'darker'. Jon Favreau directed two fun films and proved that he was a good director for action loaded with comedy.
Cowboys and Aliens contains one joke. One. The rest of it is an incredibly dull fight between two groups of uninspired film clichés. The Western feels like a run of the mill washed out B movie. The aliens look like they've come from some Aliens rip off that forgot to make them scary or original. Together do they make a whole? No, together they bore an audience like they've never been bored before.
Daniel Craig plays a character who's lost his memory (sigh) who wakes up in the desert and is wanted in the nearby town for some crime that I won't give away here, though the film is mildly more watchable if you assume the crime is he slept with several buffalo. In this town we meet several Western stereotypes thinly disguised as characters. There's nothing we haven't seen before, and I can't even claim to have seen many Westerns. Finally the aliens come to liven things up, but sadly all they do is give us a dull action scene and make the rest of the plot a quest to rescue a few characters who it's impossible to care about because they haven't got anything interesting or likeable about them. Daniel Craig is fine. Sam Rockwell is fine. Harrison Ford is fine. There's no bad acting, there's no extraordinary acting, it's all fine fine fine, keeping the tedious tone of the film nice and safe. It's a dull piece of cinema with no reason to exist, does nothing new for either genre apart from showing that they don't work mixed together (SURPRISE). Watch a Sergio Leone film or Aliens instead, and pray that never the twain shall meet.
"The aliens want gold."
"Gold? That's ridiculous! What are they gunna do? Buy stuff?"
That's the one joke in the movie. Notice it's at the expense of the terrible screenplay. Also the reason the aliens want gold is never explained, reflecting what a lazy by the numbers production this is. I hate this movie.
Cowboys & Aliens is a 2011 Science fiction / Western movie directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde and is based upon the graphic novel of the same name.
The year is 1873 and a stranger ( Daniel Craig ) wakes up in the desert, injured with no memory and a strange metal device attached to his wrist, very soon he kills three drifters who try and rob him and he takes their clothes and one of their horses then wanders into a small town names Absolution.
He is treated by a local preacher ( Clancy Brown ) who takes care of his wound, soon after the stranger subdues a drunk and rowdy Percy Dolarhyde ( Paul Dano ) who is the son of a local cattleman, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who is a very wealthy and powerful man.
Pretty soon the Colonel rolls into town demanding his son be returned to him, he also recognises the stranger as Jake Lonergan who stole gold from him and demands Jake is released to him, however local sherrif Taggart ( Keith Carradine ) denies his request and a standoff ensues, however while the standoff takes place the town is all of a sudden attacked by Alien craft who begin rounding up some of the townsfolk by long whip-like feelers hanging from the bottom of the craft, Jake's strange device on his hand comes to life and he instinctively points it toward one of the craft, using the device as a weapon to take down the craft.
And so the townsfolk begin to work together to defeat the seemingly impossible to defeat alien presence, and Jake begins to learn about his past and who he really is.
I wasn't sure what to make of Cowboys and Aliens to be honest, I remember during the summer watching the trailers and being intrigued to the premise and thinking to myself what a terrible title for a movie.
Well one thing that hasn't changed since then is my opinion of the title, while it describes the movie perfectly ( and of course was the title of the original graphic novel on which the movie is based ) it just isn't original enough, however getting past the title you get into a movie that obviously has a big budget to it, you only have to look at the star power with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford to see that no expense was spared with this blockbuster.
I must praise Favreau for his direction, he has really transitioned to a b-list actor into an A-list director who specializes in turning comic book characters into big screen gold ( Ironman etc ), the movie is helped by some great acting particularly the gruff Harrison Ford and the mysterious way Daniel Craig plays his character, you can just tell that behind the blue eyes of the stranger lies a dark individual who has seen pain in his past.
The plot is predictable enough with the local townsfolk teaming up with an unlikely ally ( Spoiler alert, they become friends with the local Indian tribe...like thats not been done before !! ) to defeat a common foe, however the acting lets you forget the plot for a while.
The special effects are of course of a high quality and certainly what you'd expect from a movie that cost $163 million dollars, and if you're looking for your action fix then this will certainly do the trick, but I just found myself wanting more from this movie, I wanted more of Craigs characters backstory, I wanted to know more about the Aliens themselves and I wanted more substance to the plot.
Overall a good movie that will certainly pass the time, but if you're looking for something you'll pop into the DVD player more than once you may want to look elsewhere !!
I was a bit iffy about seeing this film because I'm not a huge fan of either cowboys or aliens; however, I thought that I would give it a shot seeing as cowboys and aliens together in a movie is a rare sight (unless if you're watching Toy Story).
The reviews for this movie are very mixed. Most audiences were split half-half, with 50% loving the movie, and 50% wanting their money back. Unfortunately, I was in the 50% who wanted their money back. Initially, I was very impressed with the movie but, in my opinion, the film got progressively worse. I was writing notes throughout the duration of this movie and if you only read the first page you would think that I absolutely loved it. If you only read the last page you'd think I hated it. I'm thinking this is the marmite of films because many other bloggers seem to have been very impressed by this film when I was thorough unimpressed.
To give you a basic plot outline, a cowboy wakes up in the middle of nowhere with a mysterious bracelet clamped around his wrist (seemingly impossible to remove), with absolutely no memory of how he got there. He finds his way to a nearby town that is soon attacked by aliens. The town then forms a group that promptly set out to track down an alien that they believe to have ejected from the space craft. Along the way, Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), has several flashbacks in which he remembers certain events that help him piece his memory back together and he remembers his previous encounter with the mysterious aliens. The group is aided by a woman, Ella, who seems to know more about Jake than he does, but no one really knows who he is. As the plot progresses the group find out more about the aliens and Jake continues his quest to recover his memory (it's one of those films where you work backwards to uncover the story).
As I have already said, I believe that this movie went from bad to worse. Well perhaps it went from alright to marginally better to much worse. The opening scene is very mysterious with an unknown man waking up in the middle of nowhere and a metal bracelet stuck on his arm. At this point in time the bracelet didn't look too out of place even though it was evidently an alien device clamped onto a cowboy. Daniel Craig soon demonstrated his power and strength of character through a number of fights and he was definitely the perfect man for the job. He makes it look so effortless and his moves flow from one to the next emulating his masculinity and it is clear that Daniel Craig is the man for action films. It's just amazing how he can beat up a person, showing off every muscle in his finely toned physique without moving a single facial muscle. He has such a cool attitude, absolutely nothing phases him or hurts him in the slightest. Of course, they featured a scene involving him walking carefree whilst explosions and gunshots are being fired all around him.
I think this film started to go downhill after the alien part came in. It's a curious thing combining aliens and cowboys, it's never really been done before and it's quite unusual and unique. It would've been great if they'd pulled it off, unfortunately I don't think they did. Everything suddenly became very messy and confusing and I've had to re-watch several parts in order to figure out what was actually happening. I thought that the colours of the screen during the alien attack scene were very dark and dull and this just added to the confusion because I couldn't even see what was happening. All I really made out from this scene were mysterious screams, thumping sounds, flashes of light, fast-moving shadows and random gunshots. There were many alien 'abuductions' but I was sorely disappointed by the way in which they decided to carry these out as it basically involved a giant claw shooting out from the mother ship and plucking random humans from the ground. This just reminded me of that arcade game to win the stuffed toys that nobody ever wins. In addition the attack scenes just looked like a scene of Star Wars - space crafts, flashes of blue and red everywhere (blue, alien lasers, red, fiery torches). It was definitely a clashing not a combination of cultures and I was disappointed. There were also parts - particularly near the end - that strongly reminded me of Lord of the Rings. The alien's lair was a modern-ish building (a bit like the gherkin in London) in the middle of nowhere. The humans climbed up the stairs to get to the enemies *cough* Frodo and Sam climbed the stairs to the Spider's cave *cough*. The group lay in wait outside, close to the enemies, where there were wide expanses of white rock and alien space crafts fly above whilst the group hides in bushes *cough* The Fellowship hide as a group of spy birds (forgotten the technical term!) fly above. Finally, the lair 'disappears' as the ground falls away *cough* the fall of Mordor.
I didn't like what the aliens themselves looked like. They were very robotic creatures that didn't look even vaguely real. They left some green goo behind on the group - surprise, surprise - and they had a rocket ship - 'cuz that's not stereotypical. One other thing that I found ridiculous was cowboys trying to capture the aliens using lassos. Lassos. LASSO?! Now I'm no expert but I'm thinking a piece of rope isn't going to save you from an incredibly strong alien life force.
Although I found the plot very disappointing, one thing that consistently impressed me throughout was the quality of the acting. I was most impressed by Daniel Craig because after playing such an iconic role such as James Bond, it can be quite difficult to break the connection and make your audience believe that you are anything but James Bond, but he managed to. I didn't think for one second that he was the guy who played suave and sexy James Bond, he was the mysterious cowboy from beginning to end. Craig's accent was absolutely spot on and completely transported me to the world of Western cowboys, as did that of many of the other characters. The other actor who I noticed was Paul Dano. He doesn't have a particularly large role in Cowboys and Aliens, he plays the trouble making son of the town Sheriff, but the few times that he was on screen he really impressed me with his acting ability. The first time we meet him he is drunk and he really makes you believe that he's had far too much to drink. He's got the swagger, the slur - every move he makes is just further confirmation that he's intoxicated. The only problem was, his accent was so good that you had to listen really attentively to understand what he was saying, otherwise you would miss whole chunks of conversation. Many people will have only watched this movie because Harrison Ford is in it, but I have to say, if he hadn't been in it, I don't think that I would've noticed. He had quite a major role in the film as he was leading the town in their hunt for the aliens but he really didn't make much of an impact on me and I didn't notice him doing anything spectacular.
The soundtrack was fairly good, starting off with that typical Western music with that twang. Somehow it managed to convey the feeling of modern action with classic cowboy added in. It definitely contributed to the action as it was often very loud and dramatic. At other times there was some very eerie music with a slight alien quality, even though it is instantly recognisable as Western cowboy. I thought that perhaps more could've been done to mix the two types of music together though I appreciate how difficult it would be to mix traditional noises with very futuristic ones. In addition there is some very beautiful country scenery in this film with trees, lakes, mountains, deserts - everything you'd expect to see in a cowboy film but extra special.
I guess I would have to say I got exactly what I expected from this film. With executive producers being Steven Spielberg and Jon Favreau and actors such as Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, I expected it to be very well executed from the acting side of things; however, the idea of Cowboys and Aliens mixing together didn't appeal to me and I don't think that they managed to pull it off. It would extremely difficult to mix such contrasting genres together and it would've been very impressive if they had managed to integrate the two genres together better but unfortunately they didn't and ultimately this led to the film's downfall.
Favourite quote: 'Got a kid, a dog, why not a woman?'
The title Cowboys and Aliens sounds like fun or at least that's what I thought when reading about Jon (not John like DY have spelt it) Favreau's new film. You may remember his name from the Iron Man series. I can't say the director's name had any influence on my decision to go along and see the film - it was more the fact that Daniel Craig was one of the main stars. Those blue eyes just made me don my thick coat, hat and gloves and off to the pictures I went. Now, I know he's no Bruce Springsteen and he can't really act that well but there is something about those magical eyes but this wasn't the only thing that attracted me to this film - I liked the idea of the fusion between cowboy and science fiction. I have seen this done before - way back in 1973. Do you remember Westworld and a bald Yul Brynner? In fact, he was pretty cool as the gunman who was really a robot prancing around a theme park that had a somewhat futuristic feel about it. He went a bit mental if I recall and decided to kill everybody.
So how is Favreau's movie similar? It's about a group of aliens who have chosen to colonise the Earth and their chosen spot to start this mad caper is in the Wild West. They are looking for gold, a valuable commodity in their world. The human beings suddenly realise that to survive against these aliens they have to be united and put all their disagreements behind them. Can they do it - let's have a look....
The year is 1873 and the man with the blue eyes and a worried look on his face wakes up in a desert. The man - you guessed right - is Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig). What's that on his arm? A strange looking bracelet. Does he know where he is and how he got there? No is the answer. He doesn't even know who he is and what's more he's wounded. People approach him - they are aggressive. Not very welcoming at all. Ah, there is one nice guy and he's a preacher man called Meacham (Clancy Brown). He takes Lonergan under his wing, tends to his wounds in a town called Absolution. Is the town's name a sign of symbolism do you think?
Well, it's not exactly a tranquil town. It's run by that old charmer Colonel Woodrow. I think you will all recognise this local land owner who just happens to be corrupt and bribes everyone in sight. Woodrow is Harrison Ford - our favourite Raider of the Lost Ark. Isn't he a bit old to be playing this intimidating role? Maybe not. He's pretty good at the bribery thing and manages to win Sherriff Taggart over (Keith Carradine). Taggart has something on Lonergan - he knows he is wanted for crimes of rape and murder.
This is the point where Lonergan thinks he has no future; he is doomed but before this motley crew are able to square up and sort their battles out, the town of Absolution is attacked by spacecrafts who make their position and reasons for their visit very clear. They either obliterate the townspeople or lasso them and drag them into their space ships. No point in resisting as the technology the aliens use is far superior than any old Winchester or Colt 45.
Then something spectacular happens;Lonergan realises that the bracelet on his arm is pretty damn powerful and a match for any of these extraterrestrial critters. With the help of a mysterious human known as Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) who not only is possessed with a beautiful exterior she also has a talent for fighting her way out of a tight spot. You could say the heat is on, the action begins and Lonergan no longer has one toe in the gallows.
Cowboys and aliens isn't the greatest film I've seen but it's not bad. It's two hours long and a very easy film to watch. It certainly isn't pretentious. I think it would have been very easy to produce a film that was an imitation of Michael Crichton's 1973 film but the director here chose to deliver this subject matter in a straight - faced way. Also good to see that the big stars of the film trusted their ability in their performances to not ham up their characters.
The cast is a good one and I should think the main draw of the film. I mean we get to see not just James Bond but Indiana Jones as well, possibly wearing the same hat and scarf he wore in Raiders. I thought Ford looked well and a lot better than he has over the last couple of years. He seemed like he had found a new burst of energy from somewhere. Keith Carradine makes a nice comeback; is his usual self and plays along nicely with Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde who proves to everyone that she is no damsel in distress. As for Daniel Craig - well let's say he is adorable and that's enough to be going on with for now.
Do I have any qualms about the film? A couple. The violent sequences are a bit intense and seemed to stay on screen too long for my liking. I also thought that the final action set piece was too bloated and far too drawn out. The premise of the film is meant to be fun but I guess some older viewers (older than me) might see it as being stupid and probably wouldn't find it enjoyable. I could see the funny side and I would say don't enter the cinema thinking that this film is far more meaningful than it actually is. The film delivers everything it promises to.
This is a PG 13 - I think that is a fair enough rating. There is some partial nudity and a lot of crude references but nothing I think this age group will be offended by unless they are very sensitive.
Cowboys & Aliens is the latest movie to be directed by John Favreau, the man behind the excellent Iron-Man movies (what a shame that he won't be involved with the third film of that particular series.) Like the Marvel superhero movies he has been responsible for, Cowboys & Aliens is based on a comic book. The film's cast includes some pretty big names including Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) and Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones and Hans Solo.) Joining them is the gorgeous Olivia Wilde who many geeks should recognise from Disney's computer generated smash Tron Legacy (she turned many a floppy drive into a hard disc if you know what I mean.)
Set in 1873, the film starts with Craig's character Jake waking up in the desert with no memory of who he is. Sounds like the end of a really good Las Vegas stag night. Although we have no idea who he is, it soon becomes apparent that Jake is a badass as he takes down three desperadoes who give him attitude shortly after he awakes from his slumber. After the altercation Jake takes the clothes off his attackers (the Terminator would be so proud) and ends up in the small town of Absolution. The settlement seems to be going through some rough times at the moment, depending on a former colonel turned cattle rancher named Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford) for economic survival.
Unfortunately for the residents of Absolution their problems are only just starting as the following night they get attacked by extra terrestrials. After a brief battle the alien invaders kidnap some of the townsfolk using lassos attached to their spacecraft. You'd think with their technology they could make some tractor beams for human nabbing, but whatever. A band of survivors, headed by Dolarhyde, set off to rescue the abductees (hurry before they get anal probed) and tagging along for the ride are Jake and Wilde's character Ella Swenson. Jake's presence is required as the metal bracelet he sports appears to be the only weapon effective against the aliens. Ella's motives are more mysterious, but for some reason she seems keen to stick close to Jake... you'll have to watch the whole film to find out why.
Cowboys & Aliens seems to continue the recent trend of making blockbuster movies stretch out for almost two hours. As it turns out some tighter editing may have made this a more entertaining release (although some people could say the same about my lengthier reviews.) I didn't have any issues with the start and action packed showdown at the end, but things did seem to slow down during the middle when the group travels from town to the alien's base. They used the journey to flesh out some of the characters, particularly Dolarhyde showing that he isn't the heartless SOB he first appears to be, but I imagine that some viewers will lose interest during the middle segment.
Although this film features spaceships, the story's pacing never reaches light speed. If anything it feels like they pad things out unnecessarily during the mid-point mark to keep Jake's past a mystery. I didn't really see the point as his back story wasn't anything out of this world. Besides, between the flashbacks you get and his interactions with the town sheriff, they practically give away his origins long before the big reveal. It also felt like they were delaying things to keep the design of the aliens a surprise. I suppose it was worth the wait as the aliens were pretty cool. I don't however get the deal of them having a chest compartment that exposes their hearts. Seems like quite a big flaw as far as evolutionary paths go.
Overall I would say that Cowboys & Aliens was a good movie, but not the great film the studio was banking on. From the quirky title I think audiences going to the theatre will be expecting something more action packed and zany. Viewers may be taken aback by a film that for the most part plays things straight. If you take out the aliens and replace them with bandits looking for gold the story would still work as a typical Western. Speaking of aliens, I feel that their portrayal was rather inconsistent. At first they come across as indestructible, but by the end they are going down to bog standard arrows and bullets. The E.Ts are also guilty of using their fists in a fight despite having futuristic weapons. Ah well at least they were brighter than the invaders from Signs who couldn't open doors.
The performances and characters are probably what elevate the film above lesser science fiction movies. Daniel Craig didn't have many lines, as Jake is one of those silent toughs, but he was a likeable enough main character. Harrison Ford ended up being the guy having to showcase the broadest range of emotions. Good examples of his acting included Dolarhyde's interactions with his son and his resentment at teaming up with Indians that had caused him trauma in the past. Olivia Wilde was however under utilised. Her character was there for story purposes and after filing her role just seemed to stand around staring blankly for the rest of the film (never mind I enjoyed staring back at her.) Frankly speaking some of the other lesser known supporting characters ended up being more interesting than Ella.
I feel it was worth while going to the cinema to watch Cowboys & Aliens as it allowed me to fully appreciate the visual effects on the big screen. Anyone waiting for the Blu Ray/DVD release should also be entertained, although I would probably suggest renting it as its not a film you would watch multiple times. That said I wonder if the film will spawn any sequels. I wouldn't mind checking out Cowboys & Zombies... they can cast Harrison Ford as the bad guy in that one as he is really starting to show his age.