Cowboys & Aliens
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Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford star in this action-packed sci-fi western from the director of Iron Man (Jon Favreau) that critics call “wickedly original, unlike anything you’ve ever seen” (Jake Hamilton, Fox-TV Houston, TX). A stranger (Craig) stumbles into the desert town of Absolution with no memory of his past and a futuristic shackle around his wrist. With the help of mysterious beauty Ella (Olivia Wilde) and the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford), he finds himself leading an unlikely posse of cowboys, outlaws, and Apache warriors against a common enemy from beyond this world in an epic showdown for survival.
Cowboys & Aliens fuses rip-snortin' horse opera with some whiz-bang sci-fi, melding dry and austere badlands with slimy, mucusy aliens. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig, of James Bond fame) wakes up in the midst of sagebrush with a mysterious gadget around his wrist and no idea who he is--but he sure does remember how to take care of the bounty hunters who want to bring him in. His path soon crosses with a ruthless cattle baron named Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford, of Indiana Jones fame), who's not too happy with Lonergan, who got Dolarhyde's son in trouble. But their fracas becomes beside the point when spaceships descend and start lassoing people like cattle. The humans, including a mysterious woman (Olivia Wilde, Tron), a Native American tribe, and some snaggletoothed outlaws, band together to fight off this invasion from another world. The first two-thirds of Cowboys & Aliens is peppy fun, with its tongue-in-cheek Wild West-ness and colorful supporting cast (including Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Paul Dano, and Walton Goggins) and fairly understated CGI. The last third, with the obligatory assault on the alien vessel and a mess of clichés and inconsistencies, deflates a bit, which isn't surprising given that six screenwriters were involved. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) does what he can to keep things lively. Fortunately, the good spirits of the first two-thirds will carry most viewers through to the end. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Cowboys & Aliens (Click for larger image)
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Neither sci-fi nor a western, this strange hybrid is considered to be “one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.” The big budget was 163 million, making a measly 174.8 million―barely breaking even.
If forced to pick, I like the sci-fi elements more than its western desert dryness. It’s entertaining, but that’s about it.
"First contact, last stand" - "Aliens & Cowboys" movie tagline.
Four STEADFAST Stars. “Cowboys & Aliens” combines two separate genres into an adventurous plot. Aliens come to Earth in the 1870s and cause a ruckus among the cowboys and women of Absolution Arizona who are terrified. The movie uses very good CGI to bolster the action scenes. There is some predictability near the end. Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Abigail Spencer, Walton Goggins, Clancy Brown, Buck Taylor, Keith Carradine, Matthew Taylor, Cooper Taylor, Paul Dano, and more. Directed by Jon Favreau. Four UNUSUAL Stars. (Universal pictures. Rated PG-13. Color. HD. LCC. Time-1 hr, 58 minutes.)
This package features the standard Blu-ray and DVD discs. The package comes with both the theatrical and extended editions; hence there is no extraneous deleted or alternate scenes anywhere. The disc also features the typical director commentary, previews of other movies, and "making of" extras routine for Blu-Rays nowadays. Overall, a good buy at around $10 and an entertaining movie to boot.
"Cowboys and Aliens" is a unique mixture of western and science fiction. Thanks to some excellent casting and good direction, it delivers a highly entertaining movie; you do have to roll with the premise. Daniel Craig is first rate as Jake, a laconic tough guy with a strong sense of honor and a stronger need to find a missing woman. Olivia Wilde is excellent as Ella, the mysterious woman who dogs Jake's footsteps and who claims to be looking for what he lost. Harrison Ford is gruffly convincing as Colonel Dolarhyde, local cattle baron and Civil War veteran, who isn't giving up his son or his spread to anyone from anywhere. The supporting cast is also quite good, and helps deliver the theme of redemption that ties the movie together.
Director Jon Favreau offers lots of well-done action scenes and some excellent special effects. The movie is tongue in cheek in the right places and the whole thing seems to work; recommended.