Cowboys and Aliens

Released: 2011
Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford

Total tosh – but fun and enjoyable tosh


The title was the first thing that attracted me to this film.  Cowboys AND Aliens? In the one movie?  That thought alone made it almost unmissable then I learned that Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford were the leading men and that just sealed the deal for me.  There was no way I was missing this film.

As with all good Westerns, Cowboys and Aliens starts with a mysterious stranger (Daniel Craig) walking into a troubled town.  He can’t remember who he is or how he got the strange shackle on his wrist but he’s tough.  He can fight and won’t be cowed by anyone, not even the bullying son of the fearsome local landowner.  We soon discover that he is an outlaw named Jake Lonergan, wanted for robbery, assault and murder.  As he is being taken off to face justice the town is attacked by aliens and a number of people are abducted.  Lonergan, the mean Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and a rag-bag of townspeople join together to search for their families and rescue them from the “demons” who have taken them.

So far, so ridiculous.  And that doesn’t change at all throughout the film.

Daniel Craig is great as Jake Lonergan.  He has the meanness, the flinty nature and the strength to play the mysterious stranger in town.  And he’s bloody sexy as a cowboy – makes me yearn to see more good looking men in hats and chaps.  Harrison Ford makes an ideal Dolarhyde – tough, craggy and bad tempered but the character doesn’t entirely work.  A lot of time is spent setting him up as a cruel and ruthless bully but the character the audience encounters is brave, determined, a good leader, heroic and has a good heart.  Who is the real Dolarhyde?

Olivia Wilde plays Ella Swenson, a woman with a secret of her own and the ability to help Jake remember his past.  Wilde is an attractive and sparky heroine but is completely overshadowed by Craig and Ford.  Sam Rockwell once again thoroughly impresses as Doc, the mild mannered bartender who can’t shoot accurately but has the courage to search for his wife.  It’s great to see Rockwell’s versatility and it took me until the credits to be finally convinced that it was actually him playing Doc.

The action scenes are fun but get a little repetitive at times.  Director Jon Favreau plays the alien scenes nicely.  Remembering the rule not to show the bogeyman too soon, the quick camera action prevents the audience from focusing on the aliens too much but when called for we get the necessary scares from their monstrous appearances.

It’s a fascinating concept to combine the movie staples of cowboys and aliens and it does kind of work, but not as much as I had hoped.  The success of the film is mostly due to the performances and appeal of Craig and Ford.  Lesser actors wouldn’t have made the film half as enjoyable.

The main disappointment I found was that the movie began as a decent and engaging Western which was lost as soon as the aliens arrived.

If you are happy to suspend your disbelief and want a mindless, fun, forgettable and enjoyable film that won’t tax your brain on a Friday night then Cowboys and Aliens is perfect.  If you want a decent Western or Sci-Fi movie then maybe you should look elsewhere.

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  1. Well I think you know my thoughts on this one Louise. I will not litter you comment box with them.

    I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I am glad you got more from it than I

  2. I still might rent this one. From what I’ve read so far, it just didn’t seem to be worth seeing on the big screen.

    • Actually, that’s probably a good idea. I think it’s good fun – but going to the cinema is expensive these days so renting might be better value.

  3. That’s exactly what I thought coming out after watching this, in that the first 20 minutes played brilliantly out as a western, perhaps Jon Favreau should have just stuck to this genre and left the aliens on the cutting room floor – then again I guess it would have missed the point!

    Great review and thanks for sharing.

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